Thursday, February 14, 2013

Use Google Maps to Get a Preview of Where You Are Going

When you are driving, do you rely on landmarks rather than street signs to tell you where to go?

This is fine as long as you are in your hometown and you are familiar with the route. However, if you are in a strange town or in a part of your hometown you have never been in before, you have to rely on street names to get where you're going. But I have discovered that with Google Maps you can actually do both. If you want to see what an intersection looks like before you get there, you can use your web browser on your Mac or your iPad.

Go to Google Maps

First you need to go to Google maps. You can do this in your web browser on your Mac or on your iPad by typing in the location box in your browser.

Next you need to find the location you want to view. Do this by searching for the location in the Google search box.

Map with pin
You will be presented with a street map of the location that you searched for with a pin at that location if you were specific enough in your search.

On the Mac, you will see a small picture of the location in the left panel with a small icon of a little person in the picture. If you are using the iPad you will see the map with the little icon of the person in the lower right-hand corner. Click or tap on that little person icon.

Little man icon
That will bring up a big picture of the location. By clicking and dragging your mouse on the computer or by dragging your finger on the iPad you can rotate the picture to see a 180° view of this location, viewing it from all angles.

Picture of intersection
On the Mac, you can also move the little person icon around on the Map View to see different views of the location. You will see a small green platform under the person with a pointer pointing in the direction the person will be viewing the scene. There are not an infinite number of choices here. It will only settle down when it is pointing in a direction for which there is an image.

Another thing you can do on the Mac (but not on the iPad) is split the screen so that both the Map View and the Street View are on the screen at the same time. There is a small icon, barely visible in the lower right corner of the map. If you click on that when you are in the Street View, you will see a small square appear with a bit of the map inside. Now you have two choices, to make the map bigger or hide it again. You will click on the arrow icon in the upper left corner of the square if you want to make it bigger. You will click on the arrow icon in the lower right corner of the square to make it disappear.

If you make it bigger, you will see both the Street View and the Map View. The Map View will have the little man icon with the green platform indicating which way he is looking in order to see the Street View that is on the screen.

both views
There are a couple more icons I want to point out. They are sitting in the upper right hand corner of the Street View. The one on the right is an "X". That closes Street View and takes you back to Map View. The one on the left makes the Street View take up the entire screen.

one-way signs
In this instance when I was looking at the intersection of Georgia Ave., NW and Quincy St., NW in Washington DC, I could see that if I were heading south on Georgia, I could not turn left into Quincy Street because it was a one-way street. Without this information I would have had problems if I drove directly to this intersection before consulting Google Maps.

Google Maps has certainly presented us with a fun way to view our surroundings or even preview places before we get there.

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