Google Maps can find parking lots and go back in time. Try these tricks!


Google Maps is more than just a way to get from point A to point B. It’s also a way to learn more about the world around you and even play games. For instance, Smarty Pins is a trivia game within Google Maps. It asks you geographic questions and you move your pin across the map to answer.

With ease, of course, comes some baggage in the form of privacy issues. Tap or click here for eight ways Google is constantly invading your privacy. Fortunately, you can protect yourself by disabling a few hidden settings.

Once you’re done following our privacy protection guide, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all that Google Maps has to offer. There are many hidden features that you may not even know about. That’s why we’re sharing our top 10 hidden Google Maps tricks — as well as how to use them.

1. Send your exact location to someone

This is great if you are trying to meet someone in a public place. Maybe you’re on one side of the park and your friend pulls up. Make sure they don’t waste time looking for you by sending them your exact location.

To do this, pull out your Android phone and open Google Maps. Set your current location by pressing one finger down where you are on the map. That causes the address to appear. Just tap Share and Messages.

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You can of course also do this on an iPhone, but the method is more complicated. First, open a text message. Then tap the profile of the person you want to meet. Tap Send my current location. Your screen will look something like this:

Please excuse the messy stripes on the card. I don’t want personal address details to come out!

As you can see in the final image, your map and location are automatically sent by tapping Send my current location to the person you are texting. It even includes exact coordinates so it’s impossible for them to miss you.

Speaking of texting, you should probably know that some messaging apps are more secure than others. Some may even leave your texts visible to the world! Tap or click here to find out which messaging apps you should avoid at all costs.

2. Go back in time

This is a fun one. Channel your inner Marty McFly by opening Google Maps on your computer and dragging little Pegman onto the map. If you have no idea what that means, your Pegman is the little yellow figure in the bottom right corner.

Once you drag and drop it to your desired location, tap the Time button. A slider appears with a range of dates. Drag it around to take a trip back in time via Google Maps.

For anyone working on a project, it’s helpful to research how an area has changed over time. You can even use your Google Maps timeline to create a travel diary!

3. Save parking to Google Maps so you can find your car

I love this feature because in the past I’ve spent 15 minutes walking around the wrong side of a parking lot looking for my car.

When you pull into a parking lot and find a spot, open Google Maps. Tap the blue location dot and tap Save Park. You will see a More info option. Tap it and you can add a note about your parking spot.

If you have a parking meter, write down how much time you have left. You can even add photos of the level of the parking garage or where you’re parked so you can find your spot faster.

When you’re ready to drive home, open Google Maps and look at the “You parked here” pin. Tap it and select Directions for a step-by-step guide to your parked car.

4. Turn on the compass

It’s easy to get directions on Google Maps when driving on well-maintained roads. However, going off the beaten track takes a little old-fashioned ingenuity.

Fortunately, Google Maps has a plan for that via the compass feature. Use it to find your direction if you are ever lost.

This works with phones with magnetometers, including most modern Androids and all recent iPhones. Here’s how to get the job done on Google Maps and Apple Maps.

In Google Maps

Open your app and look for the compass symbol in the top right corner. Sometimes you may not see it. In that case, move the card to make it appear. If it still doesn’t show up, do this.

In compass mode, the red part of the compass always points north. The gray part points to the south. You will see a blue dot on the map. That shows where you are. A blue beam will also come out, indicating the direction you are traveling.

You can also tap the compass to adjust the map view to the direction you are going. So if your beam is pointing south, you’re going south. The card adapts to your needs. It’s all pretty handy!

In Apple Maps

To enable the compass in Apple Maps, open Settings and tap Maps. Then select Driving & Navigation. Turn on Compass.

However, that is only step one. The compass does not appear automatically on Apple Maps. To use it, open Maps and tap the location arrow twice to activate the compass.

5. Use Maps Offline If You Have Bad Signal

This takes a little preparation. If you know you are going to an area with bad signals or long stretches of lonely roads, download an area map beforehand. Here’s how.

On Android

Log in and open the Google Maps app. Look for the place you will explore later. After entering the address, tap Download. Drag or zoom to adjust the map and tap Download again.

On an Apple device

Open Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad. Make sure you are not in incognito mode and that you are connected to the internet. Tap the address of the place and select More. Then tap Download offline map and Download.

6. Walking route with AR

Since 2019, pedestrians have been enjoying the walking routes that use augmented reality. Just hold up your phone and get directions about the world around you. It’s kind of like Pokémon Go, but instead of seeing Pikachu on the street in front of you, you see, “Turn right at the street ahead.” Here’s how to use it:

Open the Google Maps app and enter your destination. Tap Directions. Then tap the Walk icon you see here. Finally, select Live View.

This is a great way to get to grips with your surroundings and avoid getting lost!

7. Use voice commands during navigation

Driving with both hands on the wheel is what we all strive for. Some people take one hand off to look at their phone and look at the map. They may be wondering, “Which way is this?” or “Where should I go?”

Put an end to this by using voice commands instead. This way you can ask any question while keeping your hands and eyes on the road.

On an Android, first, set up the Google Assistant. Then say “Ok, Google” on your device before asking a question. This is the wake-up word that lets your assistant know you’re ready to speak.

8. Go Somewhere “Incognito”

This is an excellent trick if you want to hide your location from other people. It’s okay if you’re going to buy a gift and don’t want to leave any clues. Speaking of which, here’s another tip you might like. Tap or click here to hide gifts you buy on Amazon so you don’t spoil the surprise.

To use incognito mode for Google Maps, tap your profile picture and select Turn on incognito mode. Google Maps does not save your browsing or search history when you use this mode. It doesn’t send notifications, doesn’t use your activity for personalization, and doesn’t update your location history.

9. Find parking place

It’s impressive to see how much Google Maps can do. You can even use it to find parking spots. Just press Directions, click the P and select Find parking.

This makes parking spaces nearby visible. Choose a spot by tapping Add Parking. Then tap Start to get there before someone else picks it up.

10. Change your icon just for fun

If you’re bored of the blue navigation icon, you can change it in an instant. You just need to be in navigation mode. Just tap the arrow icon to change it to one of three cars: a pickup, car or SUV.

To return to the arrow, tap the icon again. It really is that easy!

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