How does Google Maps work in 2020?

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Google Maps 2020 can be seen as the successor of the atlas which was used for searching countries, areas and other specific places on our planet. But how does Google Maps work and what functions are there? This is a practical guide by an experienced expert.


Google Maps is more than a digital map. It offers many more options than just looking up certain locations on earth. This article covers the following:

  • How to launch the program?
  • How to search within the program?
  • How to navigate within the map?
  • What are the different map views?
  • What are the functions within the map?
  • How to create directions using the program?

How do you launch Google Maps?

Very easy. Open an internet browser, go to Google, search for something and then click on the Maps tab at the top of the page between a number of other tabs. Google Maps will then be started immediately.

Search within Google Maps

Searching within Google Maps is also easy. At the top of the page there is a search bar, in which you simply type in the name of the country, region or city and press enter or click on the button with the magnifying glass next to the search bar. Often the name of the location that you want to look up appears under the search bar even before you have typed its name in full. Keep in mind that many places have exactly the same name. For example, in the Netherlands there are two towns that are both called Valkenburg. It is therefore best to type what you want to look for as specifically and comprehensively as possible.

Navigating within Google Maps

Navigating within Google Maps is possible in various ways. Here is the explanation. With the help of the compass you can move the map in all directions. You do not necessarily have to use this, you can also simply hold down your left mouse button and drag the map in the desired wind direction.

The function of the zoom in and out button.

You can zoom in by moving the button towards the plus sign while holding down the left mouse button. Zoom out by doing the same but now in the opposite direction.

The little yellow man.

This is perhaps the nicest and most interesting of Google Maps. Suppose you want to go on holiday abroad. Of course you can see many pictures of all kinds of holiday destinations at the local travel agency, one more beautiful than the other, which are provided with the most seductive texts not always telling the truth. Better is to ensure that you get an objective impression of the country or region where you want to go. And there comes the yellow man around the corner, of which a demonstration follows now. Let us assume that you want to go to Sydney in far away Australia, of which you would like to see a little bit in advance. Then we first go to Google Maps, where we type Sydney Australia. Then we hold down the left mouse button while dragging the yellow man to a blue-colored area (indicating an area in Google Maps of which images are available) in the middle of Sydney. We then drop it by releasing the left mouse button. And suddenly we are in Sydney! If you want to return to the map, simply press the cross at the top right corner of the page. But that’s not all. With the help of the compass you can view the immediate surroundings. You can also move yourself within the photo by clicking with the left mouse button on a certain place on the photo. A circle that appears in certain places within the photo when you move over the photo with the arrow of your mouse, indicates where you can move to. In fact, you can more or less just pretend to drive through the city with your car!

Map views.

Google Maps can be displayed in various ways. For example, you can choose to show the map as a real map, but it is also possible to view the map using satellite images. I personally prefer the latter option, which is set by default. You can easily change the view by clicking on the square with the word map at the top right of the page.

Functions within the map

You now have the option of having certain things indicated on the map of Google Maps. For example, you see the word traffic with an arrow below the word map. When you click that arrow, a selection menu will appear. For example, if you want to know what the weather is like somewhere, just click on the word weather and you will see it again in various places. If you want to disable the option, simply click it again in the selection menu. The card will then be restored to its original state.

Create directions.

If you don’t have navigation in your car, you can create directions using Google Maps. When you open the program, you will immediately see the button for it at the top left. Click on it. Then simply enter your departure point (A) and place of destination (B). For convenience, I have had the route calculated from the center of Los Angeles to the center of Arroyo Grande as a random example. You will be able to see the route on the map after entering the travel data, while the route description will appear on the left side of the page. You can also have the route calculated for traveling by public transport, by bicycle or on foot, although the latter two options are not very relevant in this case given the distance. You can do this by clicking on the icon of the desired means of transport next to the car icon. You can print the route with a simple mouse click on the printer icon.

It’s all free.

Google Maps is free and can, as I have shown in this article, offer a solution for various situations. That is why I am convinced that it is useful to everyone to know how Google Maps works. Happy Google mapping!

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