Google Maps: 6 buried features you’ll love

Google Maps: 6 buried features you'll love

Simplify your commute with these Google Maps tips.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you’re constantly missing turns and getting lost during road trips, or you always seem to be late to your destination, you can use the Google Maps app to relieve those driving stresses. With its hidden features, the Google Maps app acts as your copilot to get you from point A to point B with little frustration.

You probably already know with Google Maps, your most frequented addresses are saved — home, for instance — so you can quickly navigate to your destination with just a tap. You likely also use the Maps app to see restaurants in the area, things to do and maybe even hotels. 

But there are additional helpful tools built into Google Maps that you may not be aware of — like using your map offline when you’re in a bad signal zone. We’ll explain how to do this, along with several other tips to get you started. This article is updated periodically.

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Use Live View to see exactly where you’re going without looking away from your phone

When you’ve parked your car five blocks away from your destination, it can be tricky trying to follow a small blue dot to figure out where you’re going. With Google’s Live View tool, you can see exactly where you’re going by holding up your phone screen. 

The feature uses your camera to scan the buildings around you and places a huge arrow on the display to help you find the exact location you need to be in. Here’s how to use it.

1. In the Google Maps app, enter your destination and tap Directions.

2. Select the Walking icon at the top of the map screen.

3. On the bottom of the screen, tap the Live View button. It’s located next to the Start button.

4. Point your camera at the buildings and signs on the street (Note that you’ll need to give the app access to your camera). When you start walking toward your destination, large arrows and the street name will appear on your screen to guide you.

Hide your location with Google Maps Incognito Mode

A feature for Android and iPhone users lets you go incognito while using Google Maps. This means you can hide your location from other Maps users, as well as locations you’ve searched for. So if you’re trying to surprise your significant other with a fancy necklace, this is what you’ll need to do. 

Open the Google Maps app, tap your profile icon in the top right corner and select Turn on Incognito Mode. When you’re ready to turn the setting off, follow the same steps and select Turn off Incognito Mode.


You can use Google Maps offline so you’ll never be rerouted when you have no signal.

Angela Lang/CNET

Use Google Maps offline when you have spotty signal

It never fails. When you need directions the most, your phone loses signal at the most inopportune time. Fortunately, Google Maps lets you download your route ahead of time so that you never have to worry about getting lost. 

1. In the Google Maps app, enter your destination.

2. At the bottom of the screen tap the name of the place or the address.

3. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner.

4. Tap Download offline map.

5. Tap Download. The map for the area you’ve selected will now be available to you offline.

Planning multiple stops on the way? Add them to your itinerary

If Google says your trip will take seven hours but it ends up being eight, it may be because you didn’t include your multiple stops along the way. Google Maps lets you add stops so you can get a more accurate destination time.

1. In the Google Maps app, enter your first destination, like a gas station or coffee shop.

2. Tap Directions.

3. Tap the three-dot menu in the top-right corner.

4. Tap Add stop. Add as many stops as you anticipate taking.

5. Press Done when you’re finished adding stops. Now you’ll get a more accurate ETA when planning trips.

Easily find a parking spot instead of driving till you see one

Knowing where you can and can’t park your car is essential, especially if you’re running late to work or driving to an unfamiliar place. Instead of driving around and hoping you’ll eventually find a parking spot, use Google Maps to point you in the right direction.

1. In the Google Maps app, enter the location you’ll need to park at.

2. Tap Directions.

3. You’ll see a P icon next to the estimated time it’ll take to get to that location. Tap the P (for parking). If P is red, it means parking will be limited. Blue means finding parking will be easy or medium challenging

4. Tap Find parking.

5. A list of parking areas will appear. Select one of the options and tap Add parking. The parking spot will be added as the first stop on your route and you can continue on to your next destination.

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Check out the street view of an area you’re planning to go to

Pictures can be deceiving, so before you book a hotel that looks nice, check it out on Google Maps first. 

1. In the Google Maps app, search for a location, like a hotel you’re considering staying at.

2. In the bottom left corner, you’ll notice a small box with a photo of the building. This is the street view of the area, so tap it to see what it looks like.

3. You can zoom in and out and check out the area by swiping your finger across the screen. 

Want more tips? Here’s a newer Google Maps trick to try. Plus, check out these five useful Google Maps tricks you didn’t know until today and how to use the Google Maps commute tools.

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