Most Google Maps users don't even know about personalized My Maps. It's a shame, because it's a simple tool with a range of uses.
You can make a map that is essentially an address book, maps with itineraries for one-off events that can be shared, or even something as simple as walking directions from a station to your house that you can send to new visitors.
Getting the most out of My Maps
With My Maps you can mark points, giving them custom names and descriptions as well as official street addresses; generate directions between two points; draw your own lines; create shaded-in areas; and view all data in and easy-to-read list form.
The information in a map can all be crammed in to one layer, or distributed across many that can be turned on and off. This can allow you to hide certain layers while viewing others.
Unfortunately, accessing personalized maps on smartphones has become a bit tricky thanks to recent updates to the app, but it’s still doable. Instead of using the app itself, go to maps.google and tap the menu button at the top-right of the screen. Select [My Places]. It's a bit laggy on a phone, but it gets the job done.
You should now have access to all of your personal maps, as well as your Home and Work locations. If you do not see your maps, try tapping the [Maps] button near the top of the screen and next to [All].
Obviously, being the browser version, these same steps apply for a desktop or laptop.
Creating a personal map
You can create a personal map on your smartphone, but it's a job best done on PC. Go to maps.google.com and hit [My places]. From here you can control all of your personal maps, access your Home and Work locations, see past searches and create new maps.
Hit the red [Create map] button and then [New map] once the popup appears. You’ll get a zoomed-out view of your country, from which you can zoom in manually or enter an address to get started.
Layers are a useful tool in creating a map, they allow you to toggle sets of data on and off without deleting them. You can either put every point of information on a map as its own layer, or bunch them together on a single one. It’s up to you.
Marking a point
Either type in an address, or find your location manually. Once you do, hit the pointer icon and either click on the address’ pointer or wherever on the map you want.
Once you’ve placed it, you can click on it again to customize its name and add an accompanying link or some brief information. You can even change the color by mousing over it in the left-hand overlay and clicking the paint symbol.
Directions between points
For directions, click on any point and hit the directions button in the pop-up. This can be either a point you have made yourself, a business, or a street address. Alternatively, you can hit the direction button ; it’s the one on the right-hand side of the tabs below the search bar.
Once the directions are generated they will exist as their own layer.
Drawing the line
Sometimes automated directions aren’t enough and you have to do things manually. Click on the line button and start clicking on the map. Once again you can name or change the color of a line once it’s been completed.
Zoning an area
To create a shaded-in area, make a closed polygon with a line. This must be a totally closed shape and cannot have any individual lines leading off from it.
Once it’s down you can add the same kind of info as with a line or pointer, as well as change its color.
You can also drag it around by clicking and holding within the shaded area.
You can manage the style of your map through the [Style], [Data] and [Labels] tabs.
- [Style] allows you to generate automatic lettering and color sequences for your info.
- [Data] creates a pop-up that allows you to quickly view all the map’s information in list-form.
- [Labels] toggles the names of points on and off. We find it useful to keep this one on if you’re going to have a bunch of labels on a single map.