It's possible to use Google Maps offline, which is ideal if you find yourself needing to scope out a route or figure out where you are when you have no Wi-Fi, patchy 4G signal or simply don't want to burn through your monthly data allowance. Many people use Google Maps daily, and some rely on it completely to navigate their way around their worlds. If you've ever traveled to a new city and had to find your way around, you'll appreciate how useful it can be to have maps available at all times. Here's how to use Google Maps offline.
How to use Google Maps offline
The one caveat to using Google Maps offline is that you will have to access it online first in order to download and store the required data first. You'll need to do a little bit of preparation at home or in your hotel if you are traveling before you can go out into the world and use your maps without a network connection. With that in mind:
- Open Google Maps (while online) and search for your desired location.You can either use your current location to save the area around where you are, or search for an area you will be traveling to.
- Once you've found the location/area you want to save for offline use, the easiest way to download it is to go to the options menu by tapping the three lines (hamburger) icon and tapping Offline maps.
- Next, tap select your own map at the top of the screen and you will be prompted with a message that says "download this area?"
- Drag the map inside the blue square box until it encompasses the area you want to map. Pinch to zoom (putting two fingers on the display and bringing them together) to close in on the area you want. Move your fingers in the opposite way to zoom out and encompass a larger area.
- You will notice that the file size will update automatically at the bottom of your screen. The larger the area you want to save, the larger the file size will be.
- Once you are happy with the map area, tap Download.
- You can also navigate to the download area by dropping a pin or searching for a place of interest and tapping the box at the bottom (as if you were looking for images or the exact address) and clicking download on the right-hand side.
- You won't be prompted to name the area immediately, but you can do so later via the offline maps area you have just entered.
- Once you have downloaded the map to your device, you can access it by tapping the menu icon at the top left of the main Maps page and returning to the offline maps screen.
- You will also see the expiry dates and file sizes of all of the maps you have downloaded. Maps will expire after 30 days unless if you don't use or update them.
- You can also delete previously saved maps from this screen by clicking on the three dots to open the options panel.
- If you don't want to lose your downloaded maps, you can set them to automatically update before they expire.
- Press the cog icon in the top right of the offline maps screen and make sure that the first option, automatically update offline maps, is turned on.
- You can also select whether you want your maps to update over Wi-Fi only or if you are happy to do it over your mobile network as well.
Limitations of offline maps and further options
Once you have downloaded a map you will be able to use that area in much the same way as you would if you were connected to 4G of Wi-Fi. However, there are some limitations to the functionality of the offline maps, mostly regarding the size of the location you’re looking for. You cannot download a map of, say, the whole of Denmark. The box you draw around the area you want has a limited size, and it's not possible to download anything that takes up more than around 1.5 GB of storage space. You will also miss out on walking directions, live traffic information and route changes for things like avoiding tolls if you use your Google Maps offline.
Downloaded Google maps tend to require quite a lot of storage space to accommodate the detailed information they provide, so we recommend connecting to Wi-Fi before downloading all the maps you need. Bear this in mind when choosing how you want to update your offline maps if you don't want them to expire. A Wi-Fi connection is not that difficult to find these days, so we suggest you limit the automatic updates to occur over these networks only.
It is also possible to use offline maps whilst keeping your mobile data active for other apps. Open the Google Maps menu and turn on Wi-Fi only mode. You will still be able to use your offline maps, and you will be saving both battery and mobile data this way.
Has using Google Maps offline come in handy for you? Let us know in the comments.