Google Maps - best location sharing apps for android
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Google Maps is one of the most reliable navigation services available, but it’s not without its faults. One of the biggest issues is that it works best with a solid data connection, something we can’t always have. You can use Google Maps offline, but this great feature is useless without proactive measures.

Getting ready to take that road trip or get yourself into a wild hike? Make sure to follow this tutorial on using Google Maps offline so that you won’t get lost off the grid.

Also: The best driving apps for Android


How Google Maps offline mode works

Google Maps is offline

You will need to download the area of interest before taking advantage of Google Maps offline mode. This is what we mean when we say things must be done proactively. You need to download the map area before leaving the comfort of the internet.

I can cache all of San Diego, Tijuana, and the LA area with a single download in Google Maps.Edgar Cervantes

Thankfully, the Google Maps offline area you can download is large; I can cache all of San Diego, Tijuana, and the LA area with a single download. Massive amounts of information need to be downloaded in such cases, so be ready to sacrifice plenty of storage space for your maps. These can take up to 1.5 GB, depending on the area. If you have a device with microSD card support, you can even transfer data to your SD card. To do this, go to Menu > Offline Areas > Settings > Storage Preferences and switch Device to SD card.

It’s also important to note these offline maps expire after about 15 days unless you connect to a data connection. The world changes pretty much daily. Maps are dynamic and require updating. Google wants you to have an updated version of your maps even when you’re offline, which is the reason behind the time limit.

Downloaded maps expire after about 15 days. Edgar Cervantes

If you want to keep your maps offline indefinitely, all you need to do is go to the Google Maps offline settings and activate automatic updates. This will ensure your offline maps are constantly updated. You can even choose only to be updated when using Wi-Fi, ensuring your precious mobile gigabytes don’t go to waste.

When offline, the application won’t have everything Google Maps has to offer. There won’t be information such as bike routes, walking directions, traffic details, lane guidance, and all those goodies that make Google Maps stand out. Almost everything else should work as expected. You can look for addresses, find businesses, and easily navigate to them.

Also: The 10 best car phone holders available


How to store offline maps

Screenshots showing how to download Google Maps areas

Without further ado, let’s show you how to use Google Maps offline.

  1. Open the Google Maps application.
  2. Tap on your profile picture in the top-right corner.
  3. Select Offline maps.
  4. Google often offers recommendations. If your desired area is not in the recommended maps, hit Select your own map.
  5. Choose the area you want to download.
  6. You can now pinch-to-zoom in and out, making the download area larger or smaller.
  7. After making your selection, hit the Download button in the lower-right corner.

You can navigate and find directions without a data connection now. Just remember, not every feature will be there, as we mentioned before.

Next: The best GPS apps for Android


Alternatives?

Taking a quick trip but don’t need the entire area saved? There’s a more temporary way to use Google Maps offline. Navigation works offline just by setting up your route when you have a connection. Maps will automatically download the info you need to get to your destination. This is completely independent of your manually downloaded map areas. Once your route is configured, Maps will hold the data until you get to your destination or until Maps is turned off on your device.