Where would we be without Google Maps? If you’re on the road and you run into an area without internet, the answer might be: “I have no idea.” Unless, that is, you manage to download a map of the area before losing your internet connection. It’s an extremely useful aspect of the popular GPS app, especially for those traveling to unknown or new places by car.
But before relying on offline maps and setting off to your destination, you should be aware that you won’t be able to download transit, biking, or walking directions when using downloaded directions. You also won’t have access to things like traffic information, alternate routes, or lane guidance. And, in some regions, offline downloading isn’t an option, due to things like contractual limitations and language support.
Downloaded maps will also take up storage space on your phone (the maximum required MB will display just before you attempt the download), so it’s a good idea to double check that you have enough space to accommodate the new download.
Once you’ve downloaded a map, you don’t need to do anything special to access it — just use Google Maps normally, and you’ll be able to search or get directions within any area that you’ve downloaded a map for.
With all that in mind, here are the steps you’ll need to take to download a map for offline use through an iOS or Android device:
How to download offline maps in the Google Maps app on an iPhone or iPad
iPhone and iPad users who are familiar with their Google Maps app should find the process of downloading a map relatively painless. Here’s how to get started:
1. Open your Google maps app.
2. Double check that you’re signed into your Google account and that you have an internet connection.
3. In the search bar, input the location you want to save, like “Portland,” and search it.
4. The map will scroll to show the location you searched, and a tab will appear at the bottom of the screen that repeats the address and offers a few options. Tap the name of the place and the address.
5. Tap the “More” button (three dots) at the top of the screen.
6. Tap “Download offline map” and then select “Download.”
How to download offline maps in the Google Maps app on Android
For the most part, downloading a map via the Android Google Maps app requires the same basic steps as you might find on an iPhone, with a few slight differences. Here’s how you should proceed on an Android:
1. Open your Google Maps mobile app, and make sure you’re logged into your Google account and have an internet connection.
2. In the search bar, input the location you want to save, and search it.
3. Tap “Directions,” located in the bottom left corner — it will automatically use your current location as long as your Google Maps app has that permission enabled.
4. Swipe your finger from the far left side of the screen to open your menu (or tap the three lines in the upper left corner), then select “Offline maps.”
5. Tap “Select your own map.” From this screen, you can also open your offline map settings, which features options like automatically updating offline maps, and automatically downloading offline maps and changing your downloading preferences to WiFi-only, to save on data usage.
6. Tap “Download.”
Just before hitting the “Download” button, you can also zoom in or out to capture specific sections of your route. That’s useful if there are certain unfamiliar spots you need to be able to refer back to in case you lose your internet connection.