Here's how to get more out of Google Maps

Published Aug. 13, 2016

Google Maps consistently makes lists of the top 10 most-used apps and is probably one app that many people consult daily. But how much of the program do you actually use?

Those who just type in an address and go should know that there's so much more you can do than just that. Here are some useful features hiding just below the surface.

Multistop trips: Trips aren't always about going from Point A to Point B. Sometimes there's a C, D, E or even F you have to get to as well. Google recently started rolling out a new feature that lets you plug in more than one destination at a time. Users can access this by hitting the options menu from the directions screen — you get there by hitting the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner — and selecting "Add stop." Keep in mind that you may not see this update yet.

Use "Explore": The "Explore" section of Maps is easy to find, but is probably overlooked by those focused on just getting directions. The feature is particularly useful if you're traveling on business or to a new place and need to grab a quick bite to eat, and don't have time to wander around. From the main search screen, click on the three parallel lines on the left-hand side of the search bar. (Designers call this common icon the "hamburger.") If you're zoomed into a reasonably local area, you should see the "Explore" section, which will direct you to good places to eat, cheap places to eat, nearby attractions and more.

Download an offline area: If you're going to be somewhere where you can't get cell service, take advantage of the ability to download a section of Google Maps to access offline. To do this, tap in the search bar and scroll down until you see "Download a new offline area." Alternatively, you can search for a city and swipe up from the bottom, and then hit the "Download" option.

Slide up on the map screen to get the menu that includes the download option. (Google won't let you download too large of an area — but you can go up to 46,330 square miles. You can interact with this offline section of the map and search for directions to locations within that part of the world. Maps won't suggest places for you, but it will still be more useful than an old-school map. You should know that if you download a part of Google Maps, it will take up storage space on your phone.

Share directions: Need to let someone else know how to get to where they're going? Once you have the directions you need, hit the three-dot options menu and tap "Share Directions." That will let you text or email directions to someone through a link, or even share directions over Twitter or Facebook if you so desire.

Sign in for better service: If you're signed in to Maps it adds quite a bit of functionality — though you're also giving Google's app more access to your information. Deciding whether the trade-off is worth it is up to you. If you sign in and turn on your history, from that point you'll be able to reference your past destinations more quickly.