Google Maps has a robust feature set and is constantly improved, one update at a time. Most people use it for directions when moving from one place to another, but it can do much more. One of Maps' less obvious features is the ability to measure distances. I
Distances can be measured on the Google Maps app for iOS and Android apps. You can also make measurements in the web version of Google Maps, which is especially helpful if you've made the jump to a top-of-the-line Chromebook. This article guides you through calculating straight-line distances, routes, and land mass areas within the Maps app.
Measure distance in Google Maps in your web browser
If you use Google Maps on the web, you can measure distances by following these steps:
- Open Google Maps on your web browser.
- Right-click on a starting point. A menu with multiple options appears.
- Click Measure distance, the last option on the menu.
- Select the destination point by clicking anywhere on the map.
The distance is measured in a straight line, with the total value appearing at the destination point and in a pop-up window. You can quickly move the origin or destination points around by simply double-clicking on either and dragging it to a new position.
You can also double-click and drag any point between the start and end of the line to draw more complex routes. This is useful for tracing actual movement paths accurately instead of straight lines. The total distance measured automatically adjusts, and you'll also see individual distances between select points.
If you want to remove a point, click on it once without dragging it. And once you're done with the tool, click the X symbol in the measurement box or right-click and select Clear measurement to close it.
You can quickly get the distance between two named places linked by roads by googling “Distance from X to Y.” Maps selects a route and calculates its distance based on your chosen transport means.
Measure distance in Google Maps mobile app for Android/iOS
Measuring distances in the Maps web software is similar to the mobile app. However, the differences between the input methods (touch and mouse) make navigating the feature slightly different. Here's how:
- Open Google Maps on your Android device or iPhone.
- Tap and hold your origin location until a red marker appears. A pop-up showing location details simultaneously emerges from the bottom of your screen.
- Swipe upwards on the pop-up handle to open it in full-screen mode.
- Tap Measure distance. You're returned to the map with the initial red marker replaced by a white dot surrounded by crosshairs.
- Press and drag on any part of the screen to move the crosshair to the destination point. The total distance between the points appears in the lower-left corner of the screen.
- Tap the blue + button once the crosshair is in place to mark that point.
If you wish to measure a more complex route, tap the blue + button at every turn to set a new point. The distance automatically adjusts as each new location is added.
Unlike when using the web version on your PC or Mac, you can't drag and move an existing line or a point you've added to the map. So, you'll need to map out the route as you go using the + button.
You can remove the last point added by tapping the undo arrow in the upper-right corner of the screen. To undo everything and start over, tap the More (three-dot) icon in the upper-right corner and select Clear.
Measure an area of a location in Google Maps
Calculating distances is pretty neat, but Maps takes things further with its ability to measure the area of a location in square feet and square meters. This can come in handy for getting an estimated size of a real estate property without hiring a professional.
The area calculator is only available for the desktop web app. So, you won't be able to recreate this on mobile.
Here's how to use it:
- Open Google Maps web on your PC.
- Right-click at your starting point and select Measure distance.
- Add points around the property's boundary, mapping it out.
- Close the shape by clicking on the starting point. The Google Maps area calculator automatically processes the values for the shape you create.
- The total area and distance appear in the box at the bottom of the screen.
Switch to satellite mode using the Layers tile in the lower-left corner of the screen to see the boundaries of the location. Also, the more points you add, especially on slightly curved sides, the more accurate the area will be.
Each point of your selected area is still draggable even after the initial area has been calculated, so you can adjust them for further accuracy if needed.
Get more out of Google Maps
Next time you wish to measure the distance between two places or calculate the area of a property, follow the steps above. For more guides to using Google Maps, check out our articles on changing your home address and setting your commute in the app.