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How to Create and Draw Custom Routes With Google Maps

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We all know Google Maps as an excellent tool for seeing a route and getting directions. But something you might not know about is a Google service called My Maps, which lets you build custom maps with routes, markers, and shapes. You can then share these maps with others.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about how to use Google Maps to share routes—whether it’s quickly sharing directions with someone, or building out a more advanced map with multiple layers.


How to Share a Standard Route on Google Maps

In the rest of this guide, we’re going to explain how to build a custom route on Google Maps where you can add layers, draw shapes, and save it to your account. But if you have no need for that and you just want to quickly share Google Maps directions with someone, it’s straightforward.

This method is great if you want to share directions with someone immediately and don’t need to continually update or return to it. Plus, this method supports public transport and real-time navigation, which isn’t available when building a custom route.

On a computer:

  1. Go to Google Maps.
  2. Next to the search box, click the blue Directions icon.
  3. Enter your start point and destination.
  4. On the left-hand menu, select a recommended route.
  5. If desired, click and drag the line on the map to change the route.
  6. In the top-left, click Menu (hamburger icon).
  7. Click Share or embed map.
  8. From here, you can copy the route link and share it with others.

On a phone:

  1. Open the Google Maps app.
  2. In the lower right, select the blue Directions button.
  3. Enter your start point and destination.
  4. If desired, tap a gray route to select an alternative path.
  5. In the top-right, select More (three dots icon).
  6. Select Share directions.
  7. From here, you can copy the route link or send it directly into another app.

How to Create a Custom Route on Google Maps

To build and share a custom route in Google Maps, you need to use a computer. You can view the routes on mobile, but that’s all you can do.

First, you need to create your custom map:

  1. Go to Google Maps.
  2. In the top-left, select Menu (hamburger icon).
  3. Click Your places.
  4. Switch to the Maps tab.
  5. Click Create Map. Your map opens in a new window.
  6. In the top-left, click Untitled map.
  7. Here, give your map a title and description (optional) and click Save.

The next stage is to create the route:

  1. Beneath the search bar, click Add directions (curved arrow icon).
  2. This creates a new layer on the left-hand side. Click Driving to change the transportation mode.
  3. Enter your start point in A and your destination in B.
  4. To continue to add destinations to one master route, click Add Destination. To create multiple separate routes, click Add directions to add another layer.
  5. If you want to change the route, click and drag anywhere on the blue line. For precision, it’s best to zoom in.

To rearrange destinations and change the route order, drag and drop them in the list. To edit a destination, click the pencil icon. To remove it, click the X icon.

Layers are useful for grouping together different bits of information. For example, if you’re planning a vacation, you could use the layers to create day trips, with each layer containing the necessary route for that day. It’s one of the many ways Google Maps can help you when traveling.

How to Draw a Custom Route and Shapes on Google Maps

If you want to draw a custom route, first click Add layer. From there:

  1. Click Draw a line (three connected dots icon).
  2. Select Add driving/biking/walking route.
  3. Click on the map to start tracing your route.
  4. Click again on the map to finish your route.

You can also add a line or shape to your map. This is handy if you want to highlight a particular area—it’s an easily overlooked yet essential Google My Maps feature. To do this:

  1. Click Draw a line (three connected dots icon).
  2. Click Add line or shape.
  3. Click on the map to set the first point of your shape.
  4. Repeat this process until you’ve built your shape. Connect your final point to your first one if you want a filled shape, rather than a series of lines.
  5. Click the line or shape to customize the color, transparency, border width, change the name and description, add an image or video, or delete.

How to Share a Custom Route on Google Maps

Once you’ve finished the route, it’s time to share it. To do this, from the left-hand menu, click Share. Here you have three toggles:

  1. Anyone with this link can view.
  2. Let others search for and find this map on the internet.
  3. Let others see your name and photo on the map.

Enable those you need (the second toggle is dependent on the first), then copy the link to share it.

You can also Share on Drive, which gives you greater control over who you’re sharing the map with. Plus, you can grant people editing permission to create a shared collaborative Google Map. Use this in conjunction with or instead of the toggles.

How to View a Custom Route on Google Maps on Mobile

As you make changes to your custom map, it’s automatically saved to your Google account. To then access it on mobile:

  1. Open the Google Maps app.
  2. From the bottom menu, select Saved.
  3. Select Maps.
  4. Select your map.

From here you can browse the map and toggle layers, but remember you’ll need to use a computer if you want to edit it.

Plan With Ease Thanks to Google Maps

Google My Maps isn’t perfect, since the mobile functionality is limited and you can’t navigate in real time on your custom maps. Despite that, it’s still an excellent planning tool and a great way to build custom routes. It’s one of the many reasons that makes Google Maps great for navigation and exploration.

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