How to use your Google Maps offline

Google Maps is one of the most reliable navigation services available, but it’s not without its faults. Probably one of the biggest issues is that it works best with a solid data connection, something we can’t always have. Thankfully, it’s possible to use Google Maps offline, but this great feature is rendered useless without some proactive measures.

Getting ready to take that road trip or get yourself into a wild hike? Make sure to follow this tutorial on how to use Google Maps offline so that you won’t get lost off the grid.


How Google Maps offline mode works

Google Maps is offline

You will need to download the area of interest before being able to take advantage of Google Maps offline mode. This is what we mean when we say things must be done proactively. The map area must be downloaded before leaving the safety of a strong connection.

Thankfully, the area you can download is large; I can cache all of San Diego, Tijuana, and the LA area with a single download. Massive amounts of information need to be downloaded in such cases, so be ready to sacrifice plenty of storage space for your maps. These can take up to 1.5 GB, depending on the area. If you have a device with microSD card support you can even transfer data to your SD card. Simply go to Menu > Offline Areas > Settings > Storage Preferences and switch Device to SD card.

It’s also important to note these offline maps expire after about 15 days unless you connect to a data connection. The world changes pretty much daily. Maps are dynamic and require updating. Google wants you to have an updated version of your maps even when you’re offline, which is the reason behind the time limit.

If you want to keep your maps offline indefinitely, all you need to do is go to the Offline Maps settings and activate automatic updates. This will ensure your offline maps are constantly updated when expired. You can even choose to only be updated when using WiFi, ensuring your precious mobile gigabytes don’t go to waste.

When offline, the application won’t have everything Google Maps has to offer. There won’t be information such as bike routes, walking directions, traffic details, lane guidance and all those goodies that make Google Maps stand out. Almost everything else should work as expected. You can look for addresses, find businesses, and easily navigate to them.


How to store offline maps

Screenshots showing how to download Google Maps areas

Without further ado, let’s show you how the magic happens.

  1. Open the Google Maps application.
  2. Tap on the hamburger menu button.
  3. Select Offline maps.
  4. Google often offers recommendations. If your desired area is not in the recommended maps, hit Select your own map.
  5. Choose the area you want to download.
  6. You can now pinch-to-zoom in and out, making the download area larger or smaller.
  7. After making your selection, hit the Download button in the lower-right corner.

Once your maps are downloaded you can navigate and find directions as you would when online. Just remember not every feature will be there, as we mentioned before.

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