Google Maps is the best and most popular online mapping service. But that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. These free websites and extensions make Google Maps better than ever and fix some of its annoyances.
Naturally, these tools require you to have a Google account to get the most out of them. For example, you can fix annoyances like getting the shortest route for multiple destinations or removing cluttered boxes in Google Maps. Meanwhile, others allow you to use Google Maps on web pages to find locations or create and embed your custom maps.
1. Routora (Chrome): Add multiple destinations in Google Maps and get the shortest route
Routora essentially solves the traveling salesman problem in Google Maps. Let’s say you have several destinations you want to visit. You have to manually arrange them in the best route according to your estimates. But Routora will do it automatically.
Here’s how it works. First, you open Google Maps, find your first destination, and get directions to get there. Next, add any multiple destinations you want to visit, in any order, to the directions list. Once you are done, click on the Routora extension and it will scan all your visit points. After about two minutes, it gives you the best possible route to save you time and money.
This happens in Google Maps itself, so you can send your new directions to your phone and save the route. Note that this only works for driving directions, not for other modes of transport. All in all, it improves navigation on Google Maps.
Routora works with up to 10 destinations in Google Maps. In the premium version, the developers also build their own Routora maps which allow up to 25 stops and add walking and cycling modes.
To download: Routora for Chrome (Free)
2. Top-Rated.Online (Web): Discover the most rated places on Google Maps in any city
Every local business is on Google Maps these days. It’s one of the first places people check reviews and leave a review about their experience. Top-Rated.Online scoured Google Maps to list the top rated places in any city.
Search a city and find the places with the most Google Maps reviews. You can filter them by bars and pubs, beaches, cafes, fitness clubs, hospitals, hotels, hostels, jewelers, lakes, museums, restaurants, parks, sites and monuments, shopping centers and tourist attractions. Then you can sort the list by top rated or most commented. And Top-Rated.Online also offers a list of “Hidden Gems” and “Lowest Rated” for each city.
The listing gives you the rating, total number of reviews, and a short description if the original owners added it. You can click on any location to read more information on its Google Maps page, such as address, website, and reviews. You’ll also find other top-rated places nearby on a place’s page. And, of course, you can always open any location on Google Maps.
The website is a great way to find places in any city you visit or even rediscover your own city. And if you’re a business owner and you think you’re being unfairly dragged down, remember that you can always delete reviews on Google Maps.
3. PureMaps (Chrome): Remove Google Maps Clutter and Boxes
Open Google Maps in a web browser and you’ll probably see everything but the map. Google has added so much clutter and unnecessary boxes it’s a mess. PureMaps is here to give you a clean Google Maps experience.
Install the extension and you can show or hide any of the items on Maps. Current options include:
- Show research cards (top left)
- View user information (top right)
- Show minimap (bottom left)
- Show map options (bottom right)
- Show scale (absolutely bottom right)
- Display the Google logo (bottom center)
- Show preview area (below search bar)
- Show widgets pane (far left)
For most users, you should choose to show the search card and turn off everything else. Most of the time you don’t use any of the other options, and it’s just clutter. When you need it, you can always re-enable it in PureMaps.
To download: PureMaps for Chrome (Free)
4. Rocket Map (Chrome): Map Widget to Find Locations in Articles
When you read an article in the news or on Wikipedia, you will often come across geographical locations. Now usually you wouldn’t bother looking for them on a map because there are too many steps. But Rocket Map adds a widget to every page, which makes it much easier.
Once you install the extension and click on it on any web page, you will get an overlay widget in the lower right corner. Here you can search for any location and display it on the small map built into the widget. It’s full-fledged Google Maps, so you can zoom in and out and choose between normal view or satellite view.
To download: Rocket Map for Chrome (Free)
5. EZ Maps and Snazzy Maps (Web): The Easiest Way to Create Embeddable Custom Google Maps
EZ Maps is the easiest way to create custom Google maps with markings according to you, then embed them on your website. You don’t need to be a developer or have access to the Google Maps API to do this. It’s completely free forever.
Once you’ve created an account, you can start customizing the map. First, choose its size in pixels and whether you want it to be responsive to the width of the screen. Choose between road, terrain or satellite maps and set a default zoom level. Then you can start adding tags by dropping a pin or adding a tag directly to an address. You can also add hotspots, choosing their opacity and radius.
EZ Maps allows you to define how users will interact with the map. You can choose if they can scroll, zoom, get streetview, etc. Once you’re happy with the final product, you can preview, copy the code, and paste it into your webpage. Nothing’s easier.
Additionally, EZ Maps lets you add skins and themes through Snazzy Maps. Snazzy Maps is a free, copyright-free place for designers to add custom overlays to Google Maps, such as making Google Maps look like the map from your favorite game or TV show or giving it different colors to roads, landmarks and terrain.
Learn tips for mastering Google Maps on mobile
While these five great tools do a lot to improve Google Maps on computers, they aren’t very helpful on phones. But if you’re using Android phones, you should learn these Google Maps for Android tricks that make it much more powerful, like making lists of locations or saving quicker routes that Google doesn’t.
8 tips to help you use Google Maps like a pro