It's difficult to navigate with no maps or navigation app in an unfamiliar place and this is the case when Google Maps app steps in. But at the same time the internet connection can be too slow and not enough to download a full map and build a route.
Luckily offline mode comes to the rescue allowing you to download in advance a map of a selected area together with all its roads and key points onto your Android / iOS device. After doing it you can use Google Maps offline and you only need GPS connection to satellites.
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How to download city / area in Google Maps
The feature of offline maps allows you to download the maps of cities and other locations onto your memory card or to the internal memory of your device.
This can be done in the following way:
1. Open Maps app on Android
2. Find the menu in the upper left corner and select Offline Maps
3. Then tap Select your own map, if you want to specify the area you want to save on your own
4. You have to specify the region you want to save on your device. In order to increase the size of any area, swipe up inside the rectangle.
5. Drag it down, if you want to reduce the size.
6. When the choice is made, press Download in order to download a Google map.
7. After download is complete, the map of the selected region will be available even with no internet connection.
Also pay attention to the additional settings of offline mode which you can access by tapping on the gear in the upper right corner of the screen. The following features can be found in the settings:
- automatic update of downloaded maps;
- automatic download of maps when connection appears;
- download of maps only when WiFi is enabled or when any network is available;
- if there is an SD card inserted into your device, an additional item "Data Storage" will appear in the settings. Here you can choose where to save new areas: in internal memory or on an external SD card.
Further work with Google Maps in offline mode
If you open Google Maps while being in the saved area, it'll be automatically downloaded from the memory of your device. At the bottom of the screen you will see a notification stating that you are in offline mode which confirms that at the moment no internet traffic is used.
You can rename saved areas in Google Maps in order to make it easier to navigate through the list by opening offline mode, tapping on the three vertical dots next to the saved map and pressing "Rename".
There you can also delete a downloaded map or update it. Under the title of any saved area you can find the date when this file will be considered an outdated one.
Do saved Google Maps maps occupy a lot of space?
It all depends on the selected area and the number of roads and map objects since the greater the coverage is, the more this file usually weighs. For example, a poorly detailed map of a small town or a selected section of a route will take a bit, like 10 MB. At the same time, a high-quality map of Moscow (with a large number of roads and institutions) will require about free 125 MB on your device.
Keep in mind that the size of the area available for saving in Google Maps is limited: the more cities you try to fit in a rectangle, the smaller it will be. Accordingly, this will reduce the amount of details of roads, so we recommend to save several files covering smaller areas. When moving from one saved area to another, maps will be automatically downloaded from your device memory.
Limitations on using offline maps on Android
Offline mode allows you to map routes in the same way as in online mode. The key differences between offline and online maps:
- there is no possibility to make a walking route and upload data on traffic jams;
- the map modes "Terrain" and "Satellite" aren't available;
- after a route is built there is no way you can activate it to hear directions from the voice assistant;
- you can't track your location on Google Maps.
A tip: when you enable "Satellite" mode the color of a map changes to black and gray so you can use it in the dark.
How fast do saved maps become outdated?
The speed of a map getting out of date depends on the area you've chosen to save. Densely populated areas usually become outdated quite soon as new points appear (public places, roads) that require to be updated on time. If you mainly keep areas between cities or of small settlements, then update might be required once in few months or even years.
The saved maps are updated as follows:
- The app will notify you, if you need to update one or several maps so just tap on the notification, find outdated maps and select "Update"
- You can also update the maps manually: launch Google Maps app, go to "Offline Maps" section, select a saved file from the list and tap on "Update"
Which areas can be saved for offline use on Google Maps
Any areas supported by the offline mode are available for saving on Google Maps. During the operation of the app you'll see which part of the map you can download onto your device. The maximum perimeter you can save is around 500 km.
How do I download a map of an entire region or country?
To do this:
- Open the Maps app
- Tap the hamburger icon on the bottom of the app
- Go to the Offline maps section
- Select the region on the map you want to download
- Change the scale, if necessary
- Tap the Update or Download button
- Turn off the Internet connection and check if the map is displayed
How to update the offline maps automatically?
If you do not want to update maps manually, you can enable auto-updating through the Settings of the Maps app. To do this,
- Tap the profile icon,
- Go to Offline Maps,
- Tap the gear icon,
- Turn on Auto-update offline maps option.
After that, offline maps will update on a schedule when you have an active wi-fi connection.
Is the Internet necessary for offline maps to work?
Correct. Once you've downloaded offline maps on Android or iOS, you can disable Wi-Fi and use the maps.
At the same time, some functions will not be available. For example, real-time traffic tracking or information about speed limits features will require a permanent internet connection.
Can I download the whole country offline map?
The maximum capacity of the map is limited to approximately 2 GB. So you will probably not be able to download an offline map of a large country or continent. However, you can save an offline map of a region or a small country.
Make sure you have enough free memory on your phone, highlight the area of the map you want, and download it to your device.
How often do you need to update offline maps and when do they become out of date?
Usually maps become out of date after 30 days of use. After this period, we advise you to update maps manually or set up auto-updating through the Google Maps settings.
Also, if you're going on a trip or a place without internet access, update offline maps while you have access to Wi-Fi. This will avoid unpleasant surprises.
Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.