14 Google Maps Features You Never Knew Existed

It's tough to imagine life before Google Maps... those heady days when people were forced to actually interact with one another to get proper directions. Now it's easier than ever to find your way from Albuquerque to Azerbaijan. But Google has a penchant for taking everything to the next level, and it turns out Maps is capable of a whole lot more than just getting you from Point A to Point B.

To help you become a GMap power user, here are 14 things you probably didn't know you could do with Google Maps.

1. Fly around 3D cities like Superman

If you’ve ever played around with Google Earth, you already know how mesmerizing it is to see top-down satellite images of random places around the world. But when you click on the Earth version of any location in Maps, you can get an even more unique 3D view of landmarks and cityscapes by hitting the “Tilt View” button. It only works on Desktop, but it's probably best to indulge your Superman fantasies from a stationary position. 

2. Navigate through big confusing buildings

You know when you're lost inside some behemoth of a building and can't find an exit, and the situation starts to escalate, and you're thinking you may never again see the light of day? Well, Google has been rolling out an indoor maps feature, so at the very least you can find the nearest bathroom. The list is still fairly limited, but a handful of airports, museums, and stadiums around the world have jumped on board.

3. Save maps so you can access them offline

This is a useful trick if you're trying to cut back on your data usage or worried about finding your way with a shoddy signal. Save any part of any map for reference when you're offline -- just follow these simple steps.

4. See what things looked like back in time

Ever wondered how a street has evolved over the last few years? When you search a location and hit Street View, click on the small clock dial in the upper left corner. The pop-up window lets you travel back and see how it looked the past few times the Google Maps van drove by.

5. And track everywhere you've been in the past year

This slightly creepy feature allows you to see a visual history of everywhere you’ve traveled in a given day, month, or year. You can cool your jets about privacy concerns, though, since you need to opt in to Location History for it to work in the first place.

6. Book your next flight

If you’re planning a lengthy trip, tap the airplane icon and Maps will show you how much faster it would be to fly, plus estimated fare and a quick link to available flights -- which may very well be on Spirit, in which case you should probably just drive.

7. See complicated road trips at a glance

For journeys that involve more than one stop, don’t waste time entering in directions from one leg to the next. Instead, add multiple destinations and get a full trip summary. Once you input your initial leg, click the “+” at the bottom left to tack on additional destinations as needed.

8. Save the addresses you use most

If you're entering your home address every time you leave the bar with absolutely no sense of direction, you're doing it wrong. Instead, set defaults for your home or office by following these steps. FYI, you’ll need to enable your Web and App Activity in settings.

9. Get tickets for shows and concerts

Click on any music venue, concert hall, or theater and it’ll display a list of links to upcoming shows or events.

10. Get directions, even if you don't know where you are or where you're going

If you only vaguely know where you’re headed but don’t have a specific address or point of interest in mind, you can right-click any spot and it’ll give you the option to get directions to or from that location. Maybe bring some Kierkegaard or Sarte to read along the way.

11. Track the intensity of your workout

For those of us without a FitBit to track our every waking moment, you can use Maps to calculate exactly how much distance you covered on your morning run. Simply right-click on any beginning point, hit “measure distance,” and it will allow you to plot dots to create a custom route.

12. Immediately launch navigation for quick directions

If you're driving and need turn-by-turn directions stat, just touch and hold the blue train/car/pedestrian and your navigation will initiate immediately.

13. Explore the wonders of the world up close

Too broke to afford your dream vacation this year? Google Street View Treks will treat you to some killer adventures from the comfort of your computer. They've created stunning interactive explorations of some of the most remarkable places on earth including the Galapagos, Giza, the Grand Canyon, and Nepal.

14. Make existing maps better by adding your own details

If you notice a particular area is thin on info and feel like you could contribute something helpful (an unmarked service road, underground attraction, or some other weird little detail), the Map Maker function lets you become a contributor. Just don’t bother adding something bogus, since edits are closely moderated much like Wikipedia’s.
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