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How-tos

One trick to access Google Maps or Apple Maps even when you don’t have cell service

Remember picking up roadmaps at the gas station and keeping a stash in the glove compartment? Those days are behind us, thanks to all the ways to get GPS in our cars. Some vehicles come with the software, but you can always add a device even if yours doesn’t. Or you can use your phone.

The nice thing about having a portable GPS is that it can do much more than get you where you need to go. You can explore restaurants, find rest stops and check the traffic. Or you can see the world from the comfort of home. Tap or click here to explore shipwreck sites on Google Maps.

What to do if you have a bad signal? Your fancy GPS won’t work. Before you reach for the glove compartment, we’ll show you a trick that will keep you on your path even when you have no cell service.

Don’t leave home without a map

If you know you’re heading into an area with poor signal or long stretches of lonely roads, you can download an area map ahead of time. Think national parks or mountainous regions. Even an overcast sky can mess with your GPS.

Luckily, you can download a map to use offline with Google Maps. Do this before you embark on your journey, and you’ll still get guidance even if the service is spotty or nonexistent.

Downloading a map from Google Maps to your iPhone

  • Make sure you’re connected to the internet and not in Incognito mode.
  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Search for your destination, a city or a landmark.
  • Tap the name or address of the place at the bottom of your screen, then tap the three dots.
  • Select Download offline map > Download.

After downloading an area, use the Google Maps app like you normally would. If your internet connection is slow or absent, your offline map will guide you to your destination.

You may also like: Google Maps and Apple Maps can help you save money on gas

Downloading a map from Google Maps to your Android phone

  • Make sure you’re connected to the internet.
  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Search for your destination, a city or a landmark.
  • Tap the name or address of the place at the bottom of your screen, then tap Download > Download.
  • If you searched for a place like a restaurant, tap the three dots, then Download offline map > Download.

Like an iPhone, after downloading an area on Android, use the Google Maps app like you normally would. If your internet connection is slow or absent, your offline map will guide you to your destination.

RELATED: Use this simple Google Maps trick to see your house (or any other place) years ago

Apple Maps works offline, but not in the same way

Apple Maps doesn’t give you the option to download a map. It does, however, cache your destination and save the route until you get there. If you have bad service along the way, you can still use Apple Maps, though you won’t be able to add a pitstop or see traffic.

There’s a major problem here. With any map app, you’ll need cellular service to set up a route. But what happens if your destination doesn’t have a signal? Let’s say you drive to a national park. If you downloaded the map ahead of time, as you can with Google Maps, you could use it to find your way back.

While Apple Maps can get you to the park without a signal, you will not be able to use it to get back. Perhaps you should keep some maps in the car just in case.

You may also like: Camping or driving a long way? How to boost cell service (and what to do if you can’t)

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