Trying to figure out the “as the crow flies” distance between two points using Google Maps used to be surprisingly difficult, if not impossible. Thankfully, that’s changed this week – the popular mapping platform now lets you draw and trace your own paths with a few mouse clicks, calculating their distance for you.
To use the new tool, navigate your web browser to Google Maps, right click on the starting point of your measurement and choose “Measure Distance.” Then right click on the place you want to measure the distance to and choose “Distance to Here.” A hashed line will appear showing you the exact distance between the two points. You can continue to right click to add as many points to your path as you’d like. Accidentally placed points can be dragged for repositioning, or removed simply by clicking on them.
It’s almost surprising it took Google so long to implement the feature given how useful it is – measuring distances is one of the most basic of map functions we learn as a kid. You can now easily estimate how big the lake near your house is, how far you walked on a mountain trail over the weekend or just the aerial distance between Manhattan and Los Angeles (2,445 miles, FYI). It may not be a groundbreaking function, but it sure can come in handy.
Want to check out some more neat Google Maps features? Google’s new Time Machine Street View feature gives you a virtual look into the recent past, while the recently added Google Maps Gallery is a database of important historic maps and data overlays. You can even create your own Google Street View Maps using the Photo Sphere mode on your Android phone.