Offline Maps

Sometimes, you have to go off the grid

Android Central University — Google MapsGoogle has reintroduced offline maps in a recent update of the Google Maps application, and as Google often does, they leave a little mystery about how you can use them and how to download one.

That's where we come in. We'll show you how to download and "install" a map for offline use and tell you how you can use them so you're not searching support docs when the time comes. It's really easy, and you already have everything you need installed!

How to save a map for offline use

As you can see, saving an area of the map is easy, once you know how to get started. All you really need to do is search for a location or landmark, and use the "Save map to use offline" button in the card you'll find at the bottom of your screen. If you don't have a landmark in mind, you can also search for "OK Maps" and you'll be prompted to save your map. The map data is saved with Google Map's application data, and can be referenced without refreshing any data connection.

That's the important bit, see why below.

Using offline maps

Google Maps

There are several good reasons why you would need offline maps. I often find myself in places where there is no data service from any carrier (and I'm often lost) and Google Maps mocks me by telling me there is no data connection. Or maybe you have a data cap, and you're spending the weekend in a place where you'll need directions often. Anytime you want to use Google Maps without a data connection, offline maps can help.

To access your offline maps manually, just tap the silhouette of a person on your search bar inside Google Maps. You'll be taken to your information page in the Maps app, and scrolling down to the bottom will bring you to all the maps you've saved. From here, you can open a map, zoom around, and look at it just as if it were a paper map. You can also delete old maps, see how much space each map is taking, as well as initiate the saving of a new map. Notice you're warned that you can't get search or get directions if you're not online. While this is a bummer, there is (mostly) a way around it.

offline maps

If you start navigation while you are connected, and both your location and your destination are saved in an offline map, you can get started then turn off data and still get directions. This is handy if you're spending a weekend in Dallas, but since you're not from Dallas you need to know how to get your rental car from place to place. You can do so without chewing through your data cap — as long as you've saved Dallas as an offline map.

It's handy in a pinch, but if you're often needing navigation in areas where you can't use your cellular data connection, it's not the best method. We would recommend a dedicated GPS unit, or an alternative map application that is built to be offline. There are a few, and your fellow Android fans in the forums can help you pick out the best one.

A few other caveats and things to know

  • Offline Google Maps (and Google Maps in general) aren't supported everywhere. Google is always trying to get more services into more places, but they aren't everywhere yet.
  • Maps are only kept for 30 days. After that, you'll need to redownload any maps you want to keep.
  • There's a size limit (it's somewhere around the 10MB mark) to the map you can download. I'm able to download the entirety of Dallas (since I mentioned it above) but there's no way I'll be able to save all of Texas, or even all of the Dallas suburbs offline. If you have a long trip with no data, save several maps that overlap to cover the entire area. Be sure to use a naming convention so you know which is which!
  • As mentioned above, navigation can't be started while viewing an offline map. You also can't search for anything. Since search data is a big part of what makes Google Maps great, offline maps are a bit lacking compared to your Garmin or TomTom.

Having said all of that, knowing how to save maps offline and use them in a pinch is handy to know.

 
There are 25 comments

MuggyMuggy says:

I find MapsWithMe is also a great option, especially for saving bigger areas offline

Posted via Android Central App

dbareis says:

The 30 day limit an poor UI make this useless, for offline use better to go with 3rd party apps. I do not want to realise on the 31st day and the cache has been cleared.

crxssi says:

+1

The 30 day expiration thing makes it nearly useless, plus how hard it is to do- it is obvious Goggle wants to keep people chained to the network all the time. Even when you have a network connection, having a persistent cache will GREATLY speed up the rendering and lower data usage. What a shame.

I am perplexed by this 30 day limit. We should at least have the option to overrule it--my local area, where I'm likely to be 95% of the time, I should have the option to store persistently on my device.

Ikeman90 says:

where you going for more than thirty days where you wont have a data connection throughout? its 30 days cuz maps change and they dont want to be at fault for an outdated map. and if it you are in your local area where you are 95% of the time. what do you need an offline map for? if its data reasons you cant search, nav, or much else. and if your there 95% of the time you should know the area well enuf

tdi1985 says:

I live in Manhattan, plenty of areas I know nothing about, plenty of areas I could be stuck with no data signal. Having it perpetually would be nice, with the known constraint that it could be outdated... could always be better than nothing.

Ikeman90 says:

If you have no signal in manhattan change your carrier. or walk at most 20 feet to starbucks for the free wifi.

jimbo says:

Jerry
When one saves a map of an entire city or a larger area such as a county, will the map display zoomed in turn by turn including lane cues when navigating while offline? Are voice navigation prompts available when using saved maps while offline?

Is "navigation" the Google Maps application data you reference in your editorial?

flighinhigh says:

With only a small area to save offline, I will keep my Garmin as backup GPS.

mirocosta says:

Or you can tap the search bar inside Maps and say "Ok Maps" and you'll have the option to save offline map.

jimbo says:

Jerry described that in this editorial.

Some people don't read well.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

Good to know. Thanks!

Just to add an fyi, I was able to save a map and it told me the total size was 20mb.

Posted via Android Central App

FM2125 says:

Personally I discovered a solution to the whole size limit. I bought GPS Navigation & Maps. It was $1 (they have a free one that doesn't have offline) but that $1 gets you a country of your choice as a full offline map. You can pick the U.S. and download what you want to save offline (whole U.S., a state, even down to just cities I believe). For $8 you can get the entire world if you're a traveler. It gives you full navigation and searching offline as if your phone was a GPS unit. I found it very useful.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.skobbler.forevermapng&......

The Google Nexus 7 2013 Tablet has a built in GPS sensor and so you can use Google Maps offline when traveling in a car

No different than nearly every other device. I'm not sure of the point you're trying to make.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

HasaN KokH says:

im using MapsWithMe over Maps for 2 reasons
30 Days !!! why ?
area unavailable !! , if it available in data mobile network why it is not available to offline ?

aitt says:

Copilot FTW.

Posted via Android Central App

+1

bought CoPilot Premium(USA) when it was on sale for only $6.99 last Christmas.

Best $6.99 I have ever spent.

It requires absolutely no data connection(cellular or wifi). For most places, it's actually faster than Google Maps.

Ikeman90 says:

im a loyal android-er but does anyone know if offline maps is a iphone capability?

Yes iPhone can also save offline maps with the gmaps app. Not sure if apple maps can or not.

Ikeman90 says:

grazie

bertoid says:

I've got OruxMaps set up on my phone for bike touring and hiking. Couple it with Mobile Atlas Creator, and you can set up a pretty robust offline map and route tracker.

LGiusti84 says:

Well, I live in Argentina and my area no matter how small or big is not available to download for offline use, as it was in older versions of Google Maps.

PS: There is a translation error with the Spanish version, it says "Área disponible" (area available) with a red exclamation mark instead of "Área no disponible" (area not available).
I reported this to Google on the 8th of may, no changes had been made, so I recommend anyone that finds this problem to report as well so it gets more attention. it is very confusing, I spent a great deal of time searching on the app and also googling a way to save the area that I was being told was available for download by the app itself when it was just the opposite,