Friday, January 15, 2016

Map Making Tutorial

tutorial map
I’m still unhappy with the changes that Google has made to their maps however it looks like the new maps are here to stay. Since I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial I’ve decided to go ahead and make one. Hopefully if the maps change again the tutorial will still make sense. It's pretty easy to make a map once you know the steps.

If you don't already have a Google account you'll have to sign up for one which is simple. You'll automatically get a Gmail account.  Just ignore it if you don't want to use it. You can also sign up for  Google+ but that's not necessary for map making.

Once you have a Google account, open a Google search page in your browser. Click on the grid in the upper right corner.
Click on the maps icon. 
Click on the search bar.
Click on the My Maps bar that drops down.
Click on Create.
You’re now ready to start adding placemarks! There are many ways to add placemarks. You can add a placemark by clicking on the placemark icon under the search bar and then clicking on a location on the map. You can click on a labeled location on the map and then on Add to Map when the window pops up. If  you have an address, enter that in the search bar. If you have the name of a park or place, enter that. If you have the GPS co-ordinates, enter them. If you just know the general area ( this is what I use most of the time for entering boondocking locations that we’ve found as we travel) enter the nearest town. I’m going to make a map for Quartzsite, Arizona where the yearly Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is held.
Entering Quartzsite, Arizona in the search bar zooms the map into the correct area and adds a marker.
To make a marker permanent double click on it to bring up this window then click Add to Map.
This marker is just a random location in Quartzsite and I want it to mark a specific location, the Big Tent Show. I don’t know the address but I know where it is from previous years. To find the location I want to look at satellite view. Click on the down arrow on the left side of Base Map.
Click on satellite view.
Zoom in if necessary and drag the marker to the correct location. To get it really accurate I often use street view. That works best in cities but it involves opening another map so I’ll get to that later in the tutorial.
I’ve also marked some other locations. Silly Al’s Pizza by using the address, 175 W Main St, Quartzsite, AZ 85346 ; the RTR by using the GPS co-ordinates supplied by Bob Wells on his blog, 33°39’03.0″N   114°08’45.4″W ; and the RV dump station and water fill at Rose RV Park on Kuehn.
map21 With the Quartzsite Big Tent marker in the right location I’m now ready to add some details. This is one of the great things about making your own maps. You can rename your placemarks, add personal notes, clickable links and photographs. To do this click on the little edit pencil.
  Now you can add information!
  I’ve changed the placemark name, changed the placemark icon, added a description and a link which just requires copying and pasting the website link to make a clickable link. One little quirk in the description window is that it does not allow you to skip down to the next line by pressing enter. If you want to add another line press control and enter at the same time. Don’t forget to save your changes!

To change the placmark icon hover over the place name on the left hand menu. Click on the little paint can.
You’ll be able to change the shape and color. Click on More Icons to open another pane with many more icons. You can also import your own. Strangely there isn’t a tent icon on the new maps.
Photographs are very helpful but if you want to add one of your own you'll need to upload it to a  photo sharing site first. I use Photobucket.
After you've loaded your photos click on the one that you want, then click on the "Direct" link to copy the address for your map

To add a photograph onto a map location click on the little pencil to edit. Then click on the camera icon in the right corner.

I haven’t found a way to add more than one photo to a placemark window.
This screen will pop up. Click on Image URL to load your own photograph or if you don’t want to use your own you can load one from the internet.
That’s it! You can add 2000 placemarks on each layer of the map. I don’t use or understand layers so if you want to use them you’re on own. :-D Layers may be very beneficial if you have many placemarks and you want to have a map layer that shows just one category such as WiFi locations, truck stops, libraries, campgrounds, etc. You can put each category on it’s own layer and look at each layer separately or all of the layers at once. You can have 10 layers total on a map.

Name your map and bookmark it to make it easy to find. When you open it again you may have to click on Open in my Maps if you want to add new locations or edit old ones.
Before you do that, though, there are two very useful features on the preview map that aren’t on My Maps. Click the little guy in the bottom right corner and drop him anywhere on the map to get street view. Streets that light up blue have street view. Walk around on street view to find the exact spot where you want to place your mark.

Right click on an icon then click on What’s Here to get GPS co-ordinates. They’ll appear under the search bar. Update – it  appears that GPS coordinates are now automatically added to all placemarks on My Maps. Very convenient!
  I don’t use the Draw a Line or Add Directions features but you may find them useful so start a map and play around with it for awhile. I’m not using the maps to their full potential but they work very well for my purpose. Let me know if any of this is confusing or if you find mistakes. Have fun!

Note; If you’re in Lite mode some or all of the tutorial instructions may not work.


  1. One thing I don't like about new maps is that you are limited on how many points (stops for us travelers) you can have in a directions, which why I start up a new layer. That means that in one layer you have a placemark which is an "end" and the next layer the same location has another placemark as the "beginning" just gets so confusing. But it is still workable for what we are using it for so I have not gone to any of the other map programs either.

    1. That is one of the main complaints that I've noticed on the Google forums. The points are limited to some ridiculously small number like 10 which makes it impossible to plan a trip.

      So many of the changes weren't improvements.If there was a better alternative I would use it instead of Google but even with the changes Google is still better than the others. I wish that they would listen to all of the unhappy map users!