How to use Google Maps offline

Google Maps makes traveling to unfamiliar areas a breeze with its detailed maps, car, cycling, pedestrian navigation and turn-by-turn directions. But what happens if you travel to an area without cell coverage or to a destination abroad where your smartphone can’t connect? The solution: save the cards you need now so you can play them offline later. It’s a bit like tearing up pages of an old school travel atlas unless you get navigation from here on out.

Once you’ve searched for and found your destination, click on the place name at the bottom of the screen. (For example, San Francisco or Central Park.) Then tap the download button. From here you can select the area you want to save by pressing, zooming and scrolling. Once the download is complete, you can give the card a name.

However, there are some limitations. First, offline maps can only be saved for thirty days, after which they will be automatically deleted unless you update them by connecting to Wi-Fi.

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How to access your offline maps

Image Source / Getty Images

So you have saved your cards and are now ready to use them. Tap the menu button in the upper left corner of the Maps screen and select Maps Offline. This is separate from “your places”, where you can see everything you’ve saved or navigated to or from, including home and work addresses, restaurants and other points of interest.

When you use Google Maps offline, you can still get driving directions and search for places in the areas you’ve downloaded. You can’t get transit, bike, or walking directions, but when you’re driving, you can’t redirect your route to avoid tolls or ferries, or get traffic information. If you think you will be doing a lot of walking or cycling at your destination and do not expect to have a good internet connection, you will receive these instructions before you go and do them on the screen . See if you can also download a transit card.

Google Maps is not alone in offering offline access. Competitive applications such as HERE Maps and GPS CoPilot beat them, although the latter requires a paid subscription.

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