Google Maps is awesome. Whether you want to find your way to somewhere or explore a city without actually going there, it is an amazing resource that provides hours of fun. It can also be used seriously, but that isn’t quite so interesting. I use Google Maps a lot. I have explored the Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu and other cool places, all from my desk.
Aerial view is a neat aspect of Google Maps as it switches from the traditional map view to an actual view of buildings, roads and all the little things that fill our world. Taken mostly by satellite but also by aircraft and drones for specific cities and landmarks, the resolution is very impressive.
If you want to see Google Maps with an aerial view, here’s how to get the best out of it.
Use Google Maps aerial view
Using Google Maps with an aerial view is as simple as you would expect it to be.
- Go to Google Maps.
- Manually drag the map to a location or add it into the search box and hit the magnifying glass icon. If you are on mobile, you can also click the compass icon to use your current location.
- Click the Earth box in the bottom left of the map screen. The map should now change to aerial view.
- Zoom in and out using a mouse wheel or the + and – buttons on the left. Drag the map as required with the mouse or your finger if using touch.
That is essentially all there is to using Google Maps aerial view. You can use these same techniques to explore new places as well as get directions. There are a few neat tricks you can use with Google Maps too.
Offline Google Maps
There are occasions when you go somewhere without a cell service but still want directions. Fortunately, you can download a section of Google Maps to use locally. This is very useful if using the smartphone version of the app.
Be aware though that downloading maps can be data intensive. The average map can be in excess of 100MB, so use Wi-Fi before you leave if you can.
- Open Google Maps on your smartphone.
- Tap the menu icon in the top left and select Offline areas.
- Select the + button, select where on the map you want to download and tap Download. Use gestures to control where you select by dragging the box around the region you’re traveling to.
Talking of data.
Use Wi-Fi only for Google Maps
As many of us have data caps on our cellphone contracts, it makes sense to restrict map downloads to Wi-Fi. Google is way ahead of us.
- Open Google Maps on your smartphone.
- Tap the menu icon in the top left and select Settings.
- Toggle Wi-Fi only to restrict the handset.
- For iPhone, you need to access Settings and Cellular and toggle off Google Maps.
Send directions for your desktop to your smartphone
I use this feature quite a lot when selecting new places to explore by bike. The big screen on my desktop lends itself very well to exploring. I can then just use my cellphone to navigate.
- Log into your Google account and open Google Maps on your desktop.
- Set your start point and click the Directions button.
- Select your end point and get the directions.
- Click the Send directions to your phone link in the left pane.
- Select the phone or whether you want an email or text. If your phone is registered with your Google account, it will automatically be sent to Google Maps. Otherwise an email or text link will be sent.
How to find things to do
Google Maps is also very accomplished at finding places to go and things to do in a given destination. Here’s how.
- Select your destination within Google Maps.
- Click the town, city or borough and an information pane will appear on the left.
- Select Nearby and then add a filter to the search box that becomes highlighted. For example, add restaurants to find somewhere to eat. Hit enter.
- That information pane should now be populated with a list of restaurants (or whatever) within the area you highlighted.
- Click on the map to access the business listing and get directions and other information.
Those are just a few cool things you can do with Google Maps. There are dozens more tips and tricks to explore once you get the hang of it. Got any tips you want to share? Tell us about them below!