Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Website Wed: My Google Maps

View Young Conservation Area in a larger map
Google maps are already pretty good, why would I want to create my own map? Well, you might want to direct birders to the spot where you glimpsed a mysterious bird--was it a Snowy Owl or a partially-albino (leucistic) Barred Owl? Maybe you have a new location for the botany group to visit on their next field trip. There's a new location for the annual banquet--here. You can do all this with Google's "My Maps." (You need a free Google account if you don't already have one.)
Save to… Create a new map
The easiest way to do this is to do a search for an address, but you can also just enter a location, such as Hilda Young Conservation Area. When I typed in the name, I got a map with thumbtacks in 6 results for my "Hilda Young" search--none of them correct. But when I adjusted the slider on the left of the map to zoom out to a larger view, I saw the conservation area. With a click, a balloon pops up offering "Save to…" I chose "create a new map." Now I can edit my own balloon, even add links. Once saved, on top right is "Link." Here I copy the link to paste into an email or set a link on a web page. Use the embed code if you want to embed it into your website and allow people to interact with the map as I have above.

Your "My Maps" have many uses. Send your visiting college roommate an email or instant message telling them how to get to your house--not recommended in public messages on Facebook. Use the link in your organization's newsletter or web page for the next meeting or banquet. When you find a rare bird, make a Google map and put it in the birding forum or list serve. If you post nature photos on Flickr, Flickr has a similar map function.
Copy the link to share it in email, or embed code for a website
My favorite use is to put the link in a Google calendar event. The map that links to the "where" field in your calendar event is chosen by Google automatically. However, if more than one location has the same or similar name, Google may link to the wrong one. Instead of typing the name in "where," you enter latitude and longitude. I don't have a GPS system, so I just type in an address and get the coordinates at Then, in the field "Where," I put the numbers iTouchMap provided, followed by the place name in parentheses.


  1. I entertained myself recently by using Google Maps to create a map of my blog posts, showing where on the island each was inspired -