How to Measure Distance on Google Maps Accurately

One of the most innovative apps that have appeared since the introduction of the internet is Google Maps. Its mapping tools are not designed for geospatial analysis, but it has made the daily life of many much easier. It helps millions of users to get home, to work, or to any other new destination.

Most users are familiar with the feature that calculates the fastest or shortest route. This option will show the distance between two points based on the roads and highways in between. Some may ask how to measure distance on Google Maps in a straight line.

For trip planning, information such as distance, congestion, detours, and other conditions, is useful. Google Maps also does have a tool for measuring the shortest distance between two points.

This feature can calculate the distance between two or more points. It can measure the distance when taking a shortcut, through a park for example. That is useful if you want to know how far you will have to walk on a hiking trip or measure the distance you walked after a day out. In this way, it is not necessary to carry a special device like a fitness tracker. You know immediately what the walking limits are of your friends and family.

This article shows how to do it. It works both on a desktop computer and on the mobile version of Google Maps. 

How to Measure Distance on Google Maps on a Desktop Computer

At the bottom of each map is a bar that indicates the scale. This scale can be used to estimate the distance between two points. The Measure Distance feature in Google Maps gives a much more accurate answer. This is how to measure distance on Google Maps using this feature:

  • Go to maps.google.com.
  • Locate the area of interest. This is the starting point of the measurement.
  • Go to the starting point with the mouse and right-click.
  • Select the option Measure Distance.
  • Locate the endpoint and right-click on it. This creates a line between the starting point and the destination and a box at the bottom will show the distance in kilometers and miles.
  • By clicking a dragging on the line, a new point is introduced in the measurement. This step is optional. Google Maps uses straight lines, but the user can introduce as many points as needed to make the measurement more accurate.

Measuring the Distance between Multiple Points

The above method works very well for measuring the distance between two locations. If there are more points on the route, a different approach may work better:

  • Again, start by opening maps.google.com.
  • Locate the starting point by scrolling the map, or by using the search bar.
  • Right-click on the location.
  • From the menu choose the option Measure distance.
  • Now right-click on the first stop on the route and add this point.
  • Repeat the previous step until all stops are identified.

Make sure that the right path is chosen, especially when the stops are identified by landmarks like roads or paths. The correct locations of the stop make sure that the final distance reading is as accurate as possible. When the whole route is selected, the box at the bottom of the map will give the total length of the path.

This process works excellently whether it is a route for biking, walking, hiking, or running. When calculating the length of a hiking trail, make sure to add enough points to follow all the curves in the path to get a correct distance reading.

How to Measure Distance on Google Maps on a Mobile Device

The easiest way to measure distances on a mobile device is by using the Google Maps app. The method is very similar for Android and iPhone devices. To start measuring:

  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Locate the starting point.
  • Tap and hold the location of the starting point. Do not tap on previously marked locations. This method will likely not function in these locations. This means that the pin for the starting location must be dropped manually to work.
  • Either swipe up from the bottom of the screen or tap on the name of the place to bring up its page.
  • From this page or menu select Measure Distance.
  • This will activate a black circle or crosshairs. Move the map so that the crosshairs coincide with the next stop.
  • Tap Add, or Plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. The last point is deleted by tapping Undo. The complete route is deleted by on the Ellipses button and selecting Clear.
  • Repeat the previous two steps as often as needed.
  • Now the total length of the route is displayed at the bottom in kilometers and miles.

To change the units of measurement:

  • Tap the hamburger icon (the icon with the three horizontal bars) on the left.
  • Select Settings (Android) or the cog icon (iOS).
  • In the following menu choose Distance units.
  • Then select Automatic, Kilometers, or Miles.

How to Measure Area on Google Maps

Google Maps is also able to calculate surface areas. To do this, set all points on the boundary of the area and make sure that the starting point and the endpoint coincide. This is easiest in Google Maps Satellite view. Here is a detailed description of how to do it.

  • Start by following the same steps as above to start a distance measurement. Right-click on any point on the boundary and select Measure Distance.
  • Add points in the way described above. Make sure that the starting point and the endpoint coincide to enclose the area. Drag the points to put them in the exact locations. Another option is to click on the line and drag to add another point.
  • Before closing the area, the measurement given will be the distance of the route, as described in the previous subheadings. Once the area is closed, the measurement will change from distance to surface area. The information box will give the surface in square meters and square feet.

If you liked this article about how to measure distance on Google Maps, you should also check out this article with map illustration examples and types of maps.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like the map elementsmap vectorwhat is a vector mapinteractive maps, the choropleth map and how to make onethematic map examples, how to find elevation on Google Maps and statistical maps.

I take it you like maps as well so make sure to check out MapSVG, a great WordPress maps plugin you should check out.

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