Google Maps gesture controls: ‘‘Look ma! One-hand!’’

google maps layers
© Google

There's no underestimating the usefulness of Google's mapping service has helped us all at least once out of a bad situation. There are some gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom that are well known, but others, including the ability to use the application one-handed, are less well known. Here's the full list of Google Maps gesture controls.

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google maps layers
Get under the surface of your Google Maps. / © Google

One-handed gestures

Zoom with one hand

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps OneFingerZoom
Double tap with a long second press to zoom in and out. / © NextPit

So, one of your hands is occupied with shopping bags and you want to zoom in on Google Maps? Sure, you can double-tap to zoom in, but what about zooming back out? Pinch-to-zoom action with one hand is too awkward, so just double-tap the screen as you would to zoom in normally, but keep pressing on the second tap: then just slide your finger up or down to zoom in or out.

Swipe through search results

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps SearchSwipe
Swiping on the search results switches between results. / © NextPit

When you enter a search term and the result pops up at the bottom of the screen, you can simply swipe with one hand between entries and the map will relocate to that area. It won't necessarily go to the next entry closest to you in that direction, but it will give you a wide range of options if you don't mind legging it across town! Swiping up on search results will display more details.

Show alternative routes

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps NavigationSwipe
Swipe left and right to see alternative routes. / © NextPit

The same principle applies to switching between suggested routes when asking Google Maps for directions. If you've requested navigation advice for a route but want to switch between options (the blue and the gray lines), just swipe to the left and right at the bottom of the map where the route info is displayed. Swiping up will bring up full details of the current route.

Place and share a location pin

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps PinAndShare
Long press to place a pin, swipe up to share and save. / © NextPit

If you want to place a location pin or share your location with others, just tap and hold on the map and Google will place a pin in that location and display the address in the bottom bar. If you want to save that location or share it, just tap the address bar at the bottom and the options for save and share will appear.

More gestures

And just to be comprehensive, here are the other most common Google Maps gestures that you may or may not already be using:

Tilting the map view 

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps TiltMotion
That's a two-finger down swipe to enter tilt mode. / © NextPit

Perhaps you want to tilt the map to see where you need to go more clearly? This view, similar to Google Maps Navigation, is definitely more convenient for previewing your planned trajectory. Just place two fingers on the screen and drag them down to select the desired viewing angle. To return to normal view, just drag upwards. You can also exit the tilt view by tapping the compass icon.

Rotate the map

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps RotateMap
Twisting two fingers on screen will rotate the map. / © NextPit

If you're terrible at thinking spatially and just need to turn the map to face the direction you're actually facing, just put two fingers on the touchscreen and rotate them in the direction you want the map to turn.

Reorient to North

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps ReorientNorth
To get your map oriented North again, just tap the compass icon. / © NextPit

Whenever you change the orientation of the map, the compass icon will appear to indicate the direction of North. To reorient the map to North, just tap the compass icon.

Move on the map

AndroidPIT GoogleMaps MoveSwipe
A single finger swipe moves the map only. / © NextPit

No awards for knowing this one. Swipe with one finger to move the map, swipe with a flick and it will continue to scroll in that direction for a while. Just place your finger on the screen again to stop.

Did you find these helpful? Do you have any other gesture tips that you could share?

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  • Amado Othman Oct 31, 2013 Link to comment

    when you search any place you can make this map available offline to reduce the consumption of the DP

  • My1 Oct 30, 2013 Link to comment

    at least when I used GMaps the last time on my Note 2 (about 1,5 Months ago) I could turn the map to my orientation (at least while navigating) whether or not it is also in the other maps I am not sure...

  • Kris Carlon Oct 30, 2013 Link to comment

    Do you have to change that action in the settings somewhere @Phillipp? Whenever I tap the compass it takes me back to a Northerly orientation and when I'm already in that orientation it disappears.

  • My1 Oct 30, 2013 Link to comment

    tapping on the compass can also auto adjust the map to where you are facing.

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