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By Garrick Chow | Sunday, January 31, 2010

Get directions with Google Maps even when you don’t have an exact address

Recently, I was trying to figure out how many miles it was from a highway exit to the intersection of the road leading to my house. Some family friends were coming to visit and I wanted to give them an idea of how far they would have to drive before they had to keep an eye out for the tricky turnoff to my neighborhood. But without specific addresses to punch into Google Maps, I wasn’t sure how to plot the path from point A to point B.

This led me to right-clicking (or control-clicking on a one-button mouse) on the Google Map of my area and, lo and behold, up popped a contextual menu containing the command Directions from here. Selecting that placed an A marker on the map which I could freely drag around, so I placed it on the exit ramp of the highway. Then I right-clicked again near the ramp for the road where my friends would have to turn off and chose Directions to here, placing a B marker on the map, which I could again drag to a specific location. And just like that, I had the information that it was 5.3 miles to my exit—all without having a specific address for either the starting or ending points.

Right-clicking (or Control-clicking on a Mac with a one-button mouse) on a Google Map pops up a contextual menu giving the options for getting directions to or from a point on the map.

After some further playing around, I found that I could right-click on the map again and choose Add a destination if I want to continue mapping out a route without addresses. For runners, this could be a useful tool for plotting out a course, especially because you can also drag points in the route itself to change the path that Google Maps draws between your markers.

If you’re a Google Maps user, you might have already known about this feature, but I wanted to get this out there for anyone who might not have discovered it yet. This is also an excellent example of how right-clicking can often reveal commands, shortcuts, and other features that you might not have known existed in the software you use on a daily basis.

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