Personalising your Google Maps experience is quick, simple and incredibly handy.
There's no denying that Google Maps is a particularly useful bit of tech. It's an atlas, a guidebook and a GPS all in one. With a tiny bit of work, it can be even more than that.
Creating a custom map in Google Maps is, like so many of Google's products, ridiculously simple. Whether you're highlighting the local craft breweries, collaborating with friends to pinpoint the best toddler-friendly playgrounds or making a bespoke travel guide for your visitors from out of town, it only takes a few clicks to get started.
Google's My Maps feature is fully integrated into Google Drive so things are easy to share, and there's a standalone My Maps application for Android devices making things even more simple to manage, create and access while out and about.
How Do I Create My First Map?
First, go to Google My Maps and click "Create a new map".
Then, give your new map a name and label your first layer while you're at it. You can add multiple layers to group similar things together. So for that shared map for visiting friends, there might be one layer for good breakfast spots and another for the best local bars.
After that, it's a simple matter of searching for the locations you want to add, in exactly the same way you'd use Google Maps normally.
(If you don't want to spend time point-and-clicking around your destination, you can even import all the data in bulk using a spreadsheet.)
If you're bored of the standard options, why not customise your map? Use different icons and markers for different locations, or add descriptions and photos to selected spots. Put in as much (or as little) information as you want! Make a note of which local cafes are good casual meeting spots, and put a star on the ones that make the best coffee.
Find and add as many locations you want on your map – each map can have up to 10,000 lines, shapes or places, while each individual layer can have up to 2,000 – and, believe it or not, that's all there is to it!
Once you've created your perfect local guidebook, it's a simple matter of sharing it. Just like any other item in your Google Drive, you can set your new map to private, public or shared with specific people.
Public maps, published on the web for anyone to find and access, can also be embedded into websites – like this one, which shows The London of Sherlock Holmes including walking trails and more than 400 sites relevant to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous sleuth.
You can also share your shared maps with specific people. All you need to do is click the Share link, go to Invite people and enter their names as well as their email addresses along with a personalised message. Once you've invited them, you can change what each person can do, either read, edit or delete, by using the menu next to their name. You can also easily remove people from the access list, and they won't be able to load your map until you've invited them again.
You can access your custom My Map from anywhere you'd normally access Google Maps, whether that's a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone. Simply sign into Google and open the Google Maps app, then go to Your Places>Maps and select the map you'd like to look at. On a PC, you'll be limited to your five most recent maps via Google Maps – the rest are available in your Drive.
Want to go a little more old-school? You can even print your custom map by using the option in the left panel.