Use Google Maps offline on your phone with no data or signal

Google Maps is a great app for phones that enables you to find places nearby, see where you are, get directions to places and driving navigation. Here’s how to use Google Maps offline.

Although strong mobile signals are available in cities and towns, if you have ever ventured from the city and headed out into the country, it does not take long before the phone signal begins to deteriorate. Eventually you might reach a point where there is no signal at all. How will you navigate then?

How will you even know where you are when Google Maps on your phone cannot access the internet? I have been walking in the countryside through a forest on more than one occasion and used Google Maps to see where I was.

Google Maps might struggle when the phone signal is weak and may stop working completely if there is no signal at all. The solution is to download mapping data and save it on the phone so that it can be used offline without a signal.

You don’t even have to leave the city to have problems with maps. If you spend a lot of time using Google Maps navigation features your phone may use data. Frequent use might clock up a lot of data used on your phone contract and if the limit is low, there is a chance it may be exceeded.. To keep data use down to a minimum, you should save map data to the phone for areas that you frequently use it for.

Let’s take a look at how to set up Google Maps for offline use. I will use an Android phone for this guide, but it works just the same on the iPhone.

1 Open Google Maps

Google Maps on an Android phone

Open the Google Maps app on your phone. You can save a bit of time by going to the area that you want to use offline. Position it and zoom out to cover a larger area. Tap the menu button in the top left corner.

2 Open the sidebar menu

Google Maps menu sidebar on an Android phone

The menu button opens the sidebar and a little way down is Offline maps. This is just what we want, so tap it to proceed.

3 Offline maps list

Download a map on your phone with Google Maps offline

Offline maps are listed on this screen or at least they will be once we have added one or more of them. It will be empty if this is your first time, so press the link SELECT YOUR OWN MAP.

4 Choose a map area

Download a map on your phone with Google Maps offline

The current map is displayed and if it is not what you want, use the usual gestures to move  the view (press and drag) and zoom (pinch or spread with two fingers). Zoom out to include a larger area, but keep an eye on the amount of space required if your phone is nearly full and short of storage.

Press DOWNLOAD and the highlighted map area is downloaded and saved on the phone.

5 Manage your maps

Downloaded maps on your phone with Google Maps offline

More maps can be downloaded by pressing SELECT YOUR OWN MAP again and this may be needed if the area is large or if you plan to visit many different areas.

Each map has an expiry date and is because maps are often updated with new information. Not necessarily new roads, but new businesses, entertainment, places to visit or eat and so on.

Press the three dots for a menu. This allows a map to be updated, renamed or deleted. Maps you don’t plan to use again should be deleted to free up storage space.

Press the gear icon in the top right corner to continue.

6 Configure offline maps settings

Google Maps offline settings on an Android phone

The gear icon accesses Offline maps settings. Your offline maps can be set to automatically update, but to save you from using too much of your phone data, there is an option to download over Wi-Fi only. It is recommended that you turn on all these options.

The next time you plan to go on a trip, follow these steps to download the map data you need using Wi-Fi before you set off. Then if the phone signal dies, you won’t be affected.