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September 8, 2007

Measuring Distances in Google Maps

Update (May 2011): Distance measurement is now available in Google Maps Labs. Just enable "Distance Measurement Tool" and click the ruler icon at the bottom of the map.

If you want to measure the distance between two or more places, Google Maps can be pretty helpful.

One way to do that is to add the "Distance Measurement Tool" mapplet and create a path on the map. You can add as many points as you want and if you make a mistake, there's an option to delete the last point. Distances can be expressed in Metric units or English units, but if you're feeling geeky there are many other less known units you can choose: Bohr radius, Egyptian remen, nautical mile, Olympic swimming pool, light-year, PostScript point and more.


"My Maps" can also be used to create personalized maps. Add lines, define a path and change it by dragging one of the white rectangles placed on the path. The personalized map can be saved for future reference, printed, shared with others and embedded in a site.


It's interesting to compare these distances with those obtained from driving directions. To customize the route, drag the blue line or add a new destination in the sidebar.


Google Earth offers similar ways to measure distances. In both Google Maps and Google Earth, "measuring is calculated using the lat/lon coordinates from point to point and does not consider elevation."

Only the distance measurement mapplet lets you choose between metric and English units of measures. The path from "My Maps" shows the total distance in miles, while the driving directions show the units of measures used in a country.

39 comments:

  1. Any way to make it show meters and kilometers instead of miles?

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  2. Hi there, your image "driving-distance-measures.png" shows distances in metric units: Can you please explain how can we get that on making our own routes, because I searched the entire net, and your image is the only clue to our problem with measurement in feet, toes, or nails... Where can we activate the International System?

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  3. Learn how to read and write in American

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  4. no such thing as an american language...its english...

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  5. According to Webster, there is...do a search for "Webster's Dictionary of the American Language" :-)

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    Replies
    1. There is no American language. It's a mere variation of British English. And last time I read, its deteriorating; thanks to your new batch of Americans.

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    2. This is a case of someone trying to sound intelligent but coming off as ignorant. How could you qualify or quantify that a language is "deteriorating"? You are comparing it to British English, which is neither authoritative or proper. It is just different. American English shares common roots, but has evolved on its own. Languages take shape because of differences in culture, geography, circumstances, etc. Stop being a pretentious asshole.

      To the initial commenter: If you say "American" over "English," you sound dumb and kind of like an American stereotype.

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    3. Most Americans would say "English" if asked to enter "What language do you speak." That disposes of one issue above. As for the rest of the inane whining above the language is changing rapidly with or without you so get over it. It might have been Bertrand Russell who observed, "England and America, two peoples separated by a common language."

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  6. UGH is it possible to find the distance of two addresses and output the distance in miles on my website. WHERES THE API FOR THAT??? HELP!!!!

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    1. That is similar to what I want too! I would like to be able to input two addresses and have the distance calculated without having to try and find and click on the individual addresses on the map. Can we just have an 'as the crow flies' button in the directions area???

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  7. There is Americanised English - we Brits look down on it as an inferior and secondary usage of our language.

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    1. Ah. Being a brit, then you're entirely familiar with the term "douchebag". That's you.

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  8. > Only the distance measurement mapplet lets you choose
    > between metric and English units of measures. The path
    > from "My Maps" shows the total distance in miles,
    > while the driving directions show the units of measures
    > used in a country.

    Please add an option to use metric units in "My Maps".
    Thanks.

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  9. I want to do the opposite. I want to click on a point and have it show me a 40 KM range from that point. Is this possible?

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  10. I click on "My Maps" in I.E. 6 and it just says "Loading..."

    Fortunately I can use it in Firefox.

    It is weird that it is in "Featured Content" when it is really a tool. There should be a seperate category because it is difficult to find.

    The default pointer is a hand. It would be nice if the cursor location turned into a pointing tool or cross hairs when the direction measure tool is in effect.

    It does have metric and English measurements.

    British English is respected even in the US, but "units of measures" should be "units of measurement," either side of the pond.

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  11. yeah, article is good, but on google is complicated.
    i use www.distancestool.com

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  12. Well, google seems to have messed this up.
    Are there any other maps out there that still have a measuring tool?
    Frankly, that tool was the only reason I used google maps.

    Ken.

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  13. Where did this go. All I see now is more useless web 2.0 crap.

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  14. Hi,
    I 'clicked' and added the measurement tool, but I'm not sure how to access the tool - so that I can use it.
    Not a techie, unfortunately.
    I'll continue searching & try to figure it out....

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  15. Click on "My Maps" to view all the mapplets and custom maps:

    http://maps.google.com/maps/mm

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  16. you shouldn't have to sign in and add it from the directory. it should just exist, as it has in the past.

    unfortunately, google is getting crappier and crappier

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  17. no one wants american units of any kind. ... other than americans.

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  18. "Distance Measurement Tool" is now available via Maps Labs - just click on the green flask icon in top left corner and enable it. It adds a small ruler button near scale control and is much easier to use.

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  19. how do you use this? i've got green and red markers, but there's no red line in between them

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  20. in the following website easy to measure distances between multiple cities: www.distancestool.com

    and thanx for the article.

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  21. There does not appear be an intuitive way of determining distance between two points in google maps. As for the anti American comments... There is a reason that the Americans do not speak the Brit version of English. There is also a reason that the sun now sets on your empire. To the victor goes the spoils, we have done just fine on our own and in our own way. Feel free to look down upon us and our so called inferior language if you must. It is for this reason that we are free of you. I hope your bitterness and disdain keeps you warm at night. :)

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    1. No America, you didnt do fine on your own. You've just been really savvy at copying, weaponizing, commercializing and then getting all the credit for other countries technology.

      I'm for certain the concept of the internet didnt dawned in an American's head. The Saturn 5 engine that carried the Apollo missions was the work of a German. Google co-founder Sergey Brin is Russian who I'm thinking is the one who did the most work.

      Paris Hilton et al; that's all you, America.

      Please stop thinking high and almighty. The technologies at our fingertip was the collaboration of men of different races.

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  22. Wow is google really this suck? To measure a route I first click on a 404 link in an out-dated blog post, and then..... I goto bing, click on the giant 'apps' link (which doesnt 404), provides a nice search box there, I type 'distance', nice ajax search & 2 clicks later I'm measuring distance. Google on the other hand I have to leave 'maps', goto 'web' and find this crappy out-dated blog post which the link is a 404. Good work google. NOT

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  23. The measure distance tool is a simple way of find the distance between two points on a map

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  24. Need to export the data in some way also? - check http://www.routegen.com

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  25. The American measurement is fine. I can't figure out the other one...

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  26. I've used this several times. I used it once in court. The judge agreed that it was satisfactory to illustrate my defense.

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  27. The fact is - without resorting to childish insults - that the only languages that could accurately claim to be "American" are those of the native tribes. The "American language" spoken in day to day affairs is merely Americanised ENGLISH. It is not a language in itself.

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  28. If Google could use only one set of units it makes sense to use US miles. But it would not be hard to provide both as an option (by all means, default to miles).

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  29. How to see distance in metric units: create a map in 'My Maps', draw a route in. Now got to http://maps.google.fr, login with you normal Google user name and select 'My Maps'. All of your maps are there and now when you select one you will see distances in kilometres.

    The discussion above on who has the best empire is hilarious, but misses a pretty obvious point. Providing an option for the users preferred units would make a better UI. Thumbs down to Google for amateurism in this case. The work around proves how trivial it would be for them to provide a setting to handle this.

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  30. Here is the app with many different measure features (area, distance, angles measurements on Google Maps with different units): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vistechprojects.planimeter

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