Never get lost again. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to get the most from Apple Maps to virtually tour a new city, send directions to your contacts, or research long travel routes.
Few things generate fear quicker than being lost. Thankfully getting lost happens less and less these days thanks to the prevalence of portable GPS devices. They are almost everywhere. They’re in our cars, in our smartphones, and soon they will be in our wrist watches.
Apple has also been quietly sneaking a powerful navigation system into their line of Mac computers, as well. Sure, this functionality was briefly mentioned during some previous keynotes, but few ever take the time to really learn the power of Apple Maps.
In this tutorial I will show you how to:
- Use three-dimensional satellite views to virtually tour a major city
- Access turn-by-turn directions from one place to another
- Send those directions from a Mac to an iPhone
- Or include the directions in an email
Using Satellite Views for Virtual Touring
Imagine, for example sake, that you are about to take a vacation to Paris, France. You aren't sure if you want to pay for data roaming on your mobile phone, and you don't want to stand out as an obvious tourist. You would prefer to familiarize yourself with the areas you plan on visiting, so you don't have to rely on your mobile device as much when you get there.
Launch Maps. In the search box at the top, type in Eiffel Tower Paris France. Click Satellite on the switch on the top right corner. Now click on the 3D button on the lower right.
Use the + and - buttons to zoom in and zoom out. Then use the mouse to click and drag around the area. You may also grab and drag on the compass that surrounds the 3D button to change your view orientation.
Navigate around the screen while zooming in and out to familiarize yourself with the area.
In a previous tutorial, I showed you how to take some screenshots. Print a few of those out and bring them with you in case you end up lost without access to GPS or data on your phone.
Also note that while exploring, you can click on any of the icons for more information about the place they point to. Purple bed icons are hotels, green trees are parks, and brown fork/spoon icons are restaurants. Clicking on most restaurant icons will instantly show you the Yelp star rating. Clicking on the info icon will load the exact address, phone number, and pictures other people have uploaded while there.
Getting Turn-by-Turn Directions
Now imagine that you are staying in a nearby hotel and would like turn-by-turn directions from there to the Eiffel Tower.
Click the Directions button on the top left of the screen. Enter your starting address in the top field and your destination in the bottom one. If you are currently at your starting address, click the arrow key to have the starting point filled in with your current location.
Note that you may use the walk/drive toggle switch to determine the best route based on whether you are walking or driving. In this case walking would allow you to travel a shorter distance and arrive sooner. Plus you won't have to worry about parking.
If you don't have access to portable GPS or data, you can get a beautiful PDF of these directions to print out by clicking on File, then Export to PDF.
Sending Directions to an iPhone
As an alternative to printing out a hardcopy of the directions (circa MapQuest 1992), you can also send the digital map to your iPhone.
Click on the share button just to the right of the main search box. If your iPhone is on the same network as you Mac, you will see it appear as an option to send the map to. Click on it. A new notification will appear on your iPhone. Click on the notification to be taken to the exact same map on your iPhone.
NOTE: The lookup and transfer of directions from your Mac to the iPhone does require a data connection. But once the map has fully launched on the iPhone, you do not require any additional data to load the map. You could pull up the map on your hotel's wifi, load it on your iPhone, then go into Airplane Mode and still be okay. Without your GPS on, you won't get turn-by-turn directions, but you will at least have a digital copy of all the steps needed to get from one place to the other.
Including Directions in an Email
Now suppose you want to set a meeting at the Eiffel Tower, but you know everyone that is staying with you is on different schedules and not familiar with the area. You can send them all an email that includes the directions as an attachment.
From the directions screen, click the share button. Now choose Mail. The Mail application will launch with a pre-formatted email that includes a link. When the recipients click on the link, the Maps Application will launch on their Macs and show them the exact directions. Once loaded, they can transfer the map to their iPhone, export it PDF, or perform any of the other tasks I have demonstrated in this tutorial.
Apple Maps is an underused, but powerful, tool that is baked right into the Mac operating system. Next time you need directions, want a virtual tour, or want to make sure everyone gets to the offsite meeting on time, give Apple Maps a shot. You’ll be glad you did.