May 2019 Update: For those attending ISTE 2019, in Philadelphia, I have made a Google My Map with my suggestions for getting the most out of the City of Brotherly Love:
Google My Maps is a great tool for teachers and learners. Teachers can use it as an interactive platform to present lesson materials. Learners can use Google My Maps to document what they have learned.
For example, here is a Google My Map I created of Civil War battles in North Carolina for a Civil War digital breakout:
One of my favorite Google My Maps is this ingenious map someone made documenting every location in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
To access Google My Maps, type mymaps.google.com into the browser. Unfortunately, My Maps does not appear in the apps launcher (AKA the waffle in the upper right of the screen in Gmail, Drive, and Classroom) so it makes sense to bookmark it or pin it to a Chromebook shelf.
Here is a brief overview video of using My Maps in which I make a map of Amsterdam and reference The Fault in Our Stars:
Use these tips and tricks to get even more out of Google My Maps.
Create in Google Drive
As I did in the video, create My Maps in Google Drive folders so they stay organized with other content for a given instructional unit.
Change the base map
Scroll to the bottom of the legend to change the base map to one of nine different options. The default is “Map.” I am partial to “Simple Atlas” for historic maps.
Like a map? Copy it for yourself!
Click on the “NOT OWNED” tab in the My Maps home screen. You should see thumbnails of every Google My Map you have viewed and you don’t own, including the North Carolina battles and Always Sunny maps higher up in this post! Click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the thumbnail to make a copy for yourself.
Open a My Map in Google Earth
Export the data from a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked to download:
Then go to Google Earth and enable adding KML/KMZ files in settings:
Then import the KMZ file:
Most data from the My Map will successfully convert to Google Earth, including pictures and text descriptions.
One caveat: According to Google, “Some custom icons and overlay images hosted on other websites won’t work.” The two maps in this post do not have custom icons, so their KMZ files import into Google Earth nicely. If the custom icon does not work in Google Earth, it will render like a red “X” similar to the one that appears for a wrong answer on Family Feud. Some custom icons do work though. The custom icons on this My Map of some San Francisco New Deal sites render correctly. That may be because the custom icons were created using image URLs.
For more information on Google Earth, please read my blog post, 7 Tips for Google Earth in the Classroom.
Google Classroom integration…almost but not quite
The good news is that teachers can share maps so that students can view them and they can share a map so that all students can edit it. This is similar to settings for other Google Drive files in Google Classroom. The bad news is this is what happens when teachers try to make a copy of a My Map for each student in Google Classroom:
I hope Google addresses this issue in the near future. In the meantime, My Maps is still a great tool for teachers and learners alike. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google My Maps, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.
This is the Google My Maps icon image I used in the image for this post.
This is a good overview of Google Maps Tom. I note your issue with sharing ‘a copy’ of a map. I wonder if this relates in part to the fact that MyMaps is not a part of the core Education offering? One workaround that I have used in the past is have teachers provide a copy of a KMZ and then get students to load this. Although it involves a few more steps, it at least gets there in the end.
Hi Aaron, thanks for sharing that workaround. That is a good idea. I bet you’re right about it not being a core app, so it doesn’t fully function in Classroom. I’m going to leave feedback requesting they make My Maps a core EDU app.
It’s frustrating that one can’t import a sheet with addresses into My Maps and generate a map that one can follow. That is, create a map from which one can navigate while driving.
Tom, thank you for the tutorial. I found it very helpful! One bug I’m having that I haven’t been able to track down an answer to:
When I share the link to my map (used as a a way to share travel stories/photos with friends), not only do my uploaded photos appear, but also random google images from the location from the internet. Any advice on how to disable this function? I would prefer only my personal uploaded photos be included as otherwise it’s confusing to viewers…
Note: While editing the map none of these extra images are there. It’s only on the public viewing platform.
When you add a location to a map, you see a gray box titled, “Details from Google Maps.” To the right of that title is the word “Remove.” Click “Remove.” It should remove those images. I hope that helps.
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Thank you, Tom. That works beautifully. We appreciate your help and comments very much! Take care. Thanks for taking the time-
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You’re most welcome!
Layers are a great way to distinguish between things like Historical Events, Current Events, Regions, Environments, Eras, etc.
Agreed. I should use layers more often.
Hey Tom, was wondering if you knew of there being a limit of pins when copying amap.
I’m looking to copy my map but its producing errors.
Converted all my custom pin images back to default and removed all the pictures.
I do have 1548 pins between 7 layers and would prefer the new map to have address’s, which I wont have if I export the data?
Thanks for the question. I do not know of a limit but 1548 pins does sound like a ton of data. If it won’t work, go to the My Maps home screen (mymaps.google.com), click the three-line “veggie burger” and click feedback to share your issue with the My Maps team.
Nice article, very helpful
Do you know if there’s a way of leaving the legend tab open when embedding a map?
Thank you for your question. When embedding a map, the legend is always behind the icon in the upper left. There is no way to have it always display without clicking the icon.
Thank you for your share, Tom. That works beautifully. Is there a way to limit the copying of the map! Can I zoom in infinitely ?? Thanks again
Hi Frank, thank you for your comment. You cannot prevent someone from copying a map if you have shared it with them. It would be impossible infinitely zoom in but you can get pretty close.
Thank you for the quick reply ! I misspoke, what I meant is that when you zoom out, the map just duplicates! When I zoom out I see 12 maps pasting one next to the other. I wonder if it’s possible to make sure that we only see one map!
Hi Frank, I see that but only when I zoom way out. My only solution would be to zoom back in a little when that happens.
Thank for sharing Tom. I just wonder, is the my maps trick will index in google search if we put the same schema on all the pin place ?
I honestly don’t know.
The explore tab does not show for me. Did google do away with the “explore” feature?
Hi Larry, Google has removed the Explore tab. I have deleted that part of the blog post.
thanks for the update
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I’m a teacher and I just discovered this app tonight. I’ve already made my first map, but I can’t figure out how to get the box to disappear that has the title of my map and the add layer, + share, and preview info. I know it is something easy, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to hide it.
Hi Pam, thank you for your question. You are in the Google My Maps editor. In the editor you cannot make that box disappear. What you do is click “Preview.” Then the actual map (not the editor) appears in a new tab. There is a legend with locations on the left. Click the three dots followed by “Collapse Map Legend” to make the legend disappear. Let me know if you have any questions.
Tom, thank you! This is exactly what I needed to know.
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You’re most welcome!
This has been extremely helpful! Thank you for putting this together and would greatly appreciate your insight.
Wanting to share a map with my colleagues and needing help with some specifics…
1) I don’t want them to be able to share with others. (Not by social media, email, or by copying the link. It needs to stay within the eyes of employees only)
2) Can they view without having a gmail/google account?
3) Do they have to view while using chrome?
Is this possible?
In the future, a map will be on our website as well. Is it possible to make that “non-sharable” as well?
Thank you for those questions.
1) Set it in Google Drive to anyone in the district can view. That will require a district sign in to view the map.
2) In order to do that, you need to set it “anyone with the link can view.” That means anyone (district or not) will be able to see it.
3) No. Any web browser will suffice.
I’m not sure what you mean with your last question. Its all about how you set it in Google Drive – “anyone with the link” or “anyone in the district with the link.” I hope that makes sense.
How do you get rid of googles restaurants that are listed. I need a zoomed in map but I don’t want every gas station and restaurant in the city marked.
Change the base map. Some of them (not all) exclude the store listings.
Great info – thanks for sharing.
A month ago you answered a post from meagan about limiting copying/reproduction of maps from My Maps, but I’m not quite clear what you were saying. I have the same problem, I think:
My published (embedded) map made in My Maps has a Share menu which includes the option ‘Embed in my site’, which gives the visitor the map embed code. I don’t want visitors to be able to embed my map in their own sites – the data is valuable.
Your response to meagan talked about settings related to links to maps. What meagan (and I) are talking about is maps embedded on public sites, for which no link is needed. Is there a way to disable the ‘Embed in my site’ option?
I’ve tried asking the question in various places online, and have not found an answer.
Hi Chris, Thank you for your question. As best I can tell, there is no way to disable the embed button.