How to Measure Distances ‘As the Crow Flies’ With Google Maps

How to Measure Distances ‘As the Crow Flies’ With Google Maps
Image: Kent Weakley, Shutterstock

It’s easy to use Google Maps to see how far your office is from your favourite restaurant or how long it’ll take to drive from Los Angeles to New York. Estimating the distance between two locations without relying on winding roads messing up your estimate, however, is a bit more complicated. Sure, you could try and measure it with the distance scale at the bottom corner of your screen, but a quirk of Maps (which we originally learned of on reddit) makes estimating distances from point to point (or “as the crow flies”) pretty easy, whether you’re using your desktop or an Android or iOS device.

How to measure distances on desktop

It's like a zen koan, how many Pret a Mangers are there in New York? (Screenshot: Joel Cunningham) It's like a zen koan, how many Pret a Mangers are there in New York? (Screenshot: Joel Cunningham)
  • On your computer, open Google Maps.
  • Right-click on your starting point.
  • Choose Measure distance.
  • Click anywhere on the map to create a path to measure. To add another point, click anywhere on the map.
  • Optional: Drag a point or path to move it, or click a point to remove it.
  • At the bottom, you’ll see the total distance in miles (mi) and kilometers (km).
  • When done: On the card at the bottom, click the x .

How to measure distance on Android

  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Touch and hold anywhere on the map. You’ll see a red pin appear.
  • At the bottom, tap the name of the place.
  • On the place’s page, scroll down and choose Measure distance.
  • Move the map so that the black circle, or crosshairs, is on the next point you want to add.
  • At the bottom right, tap Add.
  • Add points until you’re done.
  • At the bottom, you’ll see the total distance in miles (mi) or kilometers (km).

How to measure distance on iOS

  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Touch and hold anywhere on the map. A red “dropped pin” will appear.
  • At the bottom, tap the name of the place.
  • On the place’s page, scroll down and choose Measure distance.
  • Move the map so that the black circle, or crosshairs, is on the next point you want to add.
  • At the bottom right, tap the plus sign to add a point.
  • Add points until you’re done.
  • At the bottom, you’ll see the total distance in miles (mi).

This post was originally published on September 6, 2017 by Patrick Lucas Austin. It was updated in July 2020 by Joel Cunningham. Updates included updating language to match changes to Google Maps, adding a screenshot and new header image and adding instructions to measure distance on iOS.

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