Google Maps is among the best tools for route finding, but sadly many of its more advanced features are tucked away. Though it's not widely advertised, it is possible to create a custom Google map with its own pins, styles, routes, and more.
Creating custom Google maps with map maker in “My Maps” / “Your places”
The only requirement to create custom Google maps is that you have access to a laptop or desktop computer. After the initial creation, you should be able to modify it in your Google Maps app for Android and iOS. While you can create a custom map starting from Google Maps itself, the map maker and your personal maps are accessible separately at “My Maps”.
As Google's custom map creator is limited to earthy you can't create a fantasy landscape with this tool unless it's based on our own humble planet. However, you can add custom shapes, landmarks, and more. You can also collaborate with other people, making it ideal for road trip planning and more. With that short explanation, let's jump into how to make a custom Google map:
How to Create a Custom Google Map with Pins
As mentioned earlier, the Google custom map creator is quite unintuitive to get to, but it's easy to use once you find it. Here's how to access it, add pins, and create routes:
- Press the hamburger menu in the top-left and click “Your places”
- Open the “Maps” tab and press “Create map” at the bottom
If you don't see the “Maps” tab, you may be on a mobile browser or app. Try using your desktop or laptop instead.
- Click the “Untitled map” text to rename your map
- Name your map something memorable and press “Save”
You can also add a description if you wish – this is especially useful for collaborators.
- Click the arrow next to “Base map” and select a style from the menu
- Press “Add layer”
- Click the three dots to the right of a layer name to rename or delete it
- Add Google map custom markers
Press the “Add marker” button below the search bar, press where you want to place it, and enter a name and description for it. Click “Save” when you're done.
- press the “Draw a line” icon below the search bar and press “Add line or shape”
- Draw the line or shape with your mouse, name it, and press “Save”
- How to add a route to your custom Google map
To add a route to your Google map, click the junction button below the search bar, then add your departure and arrival points on the left-hand side. You'll see the points along the route clearly marked on your map.
Once you've got the basics of your custom map penned down, you may want to share it with others so they can view and edit it. Here's how to do so:
- Press the “Share” button in the left sidebar
- Choose your sharing options
You can decide whether you want to share it with anybody who has the link and if others can find it by searching. Press the pages icon to copy the link, send it to your friend, then press “Close”.
- Or: Share the map on Google Drive
You can alternatively press the “Share on Drive” button to share it there instead. This gives you some additional options.
- Add a specific person via email, press “Done”, and copy and share the link with them
So long as they're logged into the Google account you added, they'll be able to view the map.
- Or: share it with anybody who has the link
By default, Google Maps will only let someone open the Google Drive map if you have added their account in the “Share with people and groups” section. You can change this behavior by clicking the “Change to anyone with the link” button in the “Get link” section.
- Press the “Restricted” dropdown, choose “Anyone with the link”, and press “Done”
You can additionally press the “Viewer” dropdown next to the “Anyone with the link” dropdown to choose whether those with the link can just view or also edit your map.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Google My Maps / Custom Google Maps
Can I import locations from a spreadsheet into my Google Map?
Yes, you can import locations from a spreadsheet to create multiple pins on your map. Use the “Import” option under a specific layer to upload your spreadsheet.
How can I measure distances and areas in my custom Google Map?
You can measure distances and areas using the “Draw a line” tool. After drawing a line or shape, Google Maps will display its length or area.
Is it possible to embed my custom Google Map on a website?
Yes, you can embed your custom map on a website. Click on the three-dot menu next to your map's name and select “Embed on my site” to get the HTML code.
How do I add photos or videos to markers in my custom map?
When you add a marker, you can attach photos or videos by clicking the camera icon in the description box and uploading your media.
Can I set different colors or icons for my markers?
Yes, when you add a marker, click on the marker icon to change its color or replace it with a different icon.
How to track changes made by collaborators on my custom Google Map?
While Google Maps doesn't provide a direct way to track individual changes, you can ask collaborators to add comments or keep a log of their edits.
Can I save directions or routes as part of my custom map?
Yes, after creating a route using the directions tool, you can save it to a layer in your custom map.
Is it possible to print my custom Google Map?
Yes, you can print your custom Google Map. Click on the print icon in the top left corner of the map window and follow the instructions.
How can I make my custom Google Map public or private?
To change the privacy settings, click on the “Share” button and adjust the visibility under “Who has access“.
Can I use Google Street View in my custom Google Map?
Yes, you can integrate Street View into your custom map by dragging the Street View icon to a location on the map.
How to update or delete a custom Google Map I created?
To update, simply make changes while the map is open. To delete, click on the three-dot menu next to the map's name and select “Delete map“.
Can I use custom map layers for more complex mapping?
Yes, you can add and manage multiple layers for complex mapping needs, organizing different elements across these layers.
How do I share my custom Google Map with a non-Google user?
You can make the map public and share the link, or if privacy is a concern, export the map as a KML file and share it directly.
Is it possible to add a legend or key to my custom Google Map?
Google Maps doesn't provide a built-in legend feature, but you can add a legend as text in the map description or as part of a custom layer.
Can I link to specific locations or markers within my custom map?
Yes, after selecting a marker, click on the link icon in the marker's description box to get a direct URL to that specific location.
Extra: How to Plan a Route with More than 10 Stops
Now you know how to create a custom Google map and add components to your heart's content. However, there are more hidden Google Maps features still. For example, if you don't want to create an entirely custom map but you do want to add more than 10 stops to a route, you can do so using the trick we outline here.
Extra: How to Measure Distance on Google Maps
You can additionally make use of Google Maps' measure tool to judge distances as the crow flies when map making.