Technology

5 Free Sites and Extensions to Make Google Maps Incredibly Useful

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Google Maps is the best and most popular online map service. But that doesn’t mean it’s without flaws. These free websites and extensions make Google Maps better than ever before and fix some of its annoyances.

Naturally, these tools require you to have a Google account to make the most of them. For example, you can fix annoyances like getting the shortest route for multiple destinations or removing cluttered boxes in Google Maps. Meanwhile, others let you use Google Maps on web pages to research locations or make and embed your custom maps.


1. Router (Chrome): Add Multiple Destinations in Google Maps and Get Shortest Route

Routora essentially solves the traveling salesman problem in Google Maps. Let’s say you have multiple destinations that you want to visit. You have to manually arrange them into the best route as per your estimates. But Routora will do that automatically.

Here’s how it works. First, you open Google Maps and search for your first destination, and get directions to it. Next, add all the multiple destinations you want to visit, in any order, to the directions list. Once you’re done, click the Routora extension for it to analyze all your points of visit. After about two minutes, it gives you the best possible route to save you time and gas money.

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It happens in Google Maps itself, so you can send your new directions to your phone and save the route. Do note that this works only for car directions, not other modes of transport. All in all, it makes navigation better on Google Maps.

Routora works with up to 10 destinations in Google Maps. In the premium version, the developers are also building their own Routora Maps that allow for up to 25 stops and add walking and biking modes.

Download: Router for Chrome (Free)

2. Top-Rated.Online (Web): Discover the Most Reviewed Places on Google Maps in Any City

Every local business is on Google Maps these days. It’s one of the first places people check for reviews and leave a review about their experience. Top-Rated.Online has trawled through Google Maps to list the most-reviewed places in any city.


Search for a city, and find places with the highest number of Google Maps reviews. You can filter these by bars and pubs, beaches, cafes, fitness clubs, hospitals, hotels, hostels, jewelers, lakes, museums, restaurants, parks, sights and landmarks, shopping centers, and tourist attractions. Next, you can sort the list by top-rated or most-reviewed. And Top-Rated.Online also offers a list of “hidden gems” and “worst rated” for every city.

The list gives you the rating, the total number of reviews, and a short description if the original owners have added it. You can click any place to read more information from its Google Maps page, like the address, website, and reviews. You’ll also find other most-reviewed places nearby on a place’s page. And, of course, you can always open any place on Google Maps.


The website is a great way to find places in any city you’re visiting or even to re-discover your own city. And if you’re an owner of a business and feel you’re unfairly being dragged down, remember, you can always delete reviews on Google Maps.

3. PureMaps (Chrome): Remove Clutter and Boxes From Google Maps

Open Google Maps in a web browser, and you’ll probably see everything but the map. Google has added so much clutter and unnecessary boxes that it’s a mess. PureMaps is here to give you a clean Google Maps experience.

Install the extension, and you’ll be able to show or hide any of the elements on Maps. The current options include:

  • Show search cards (top left)
  • Show user information (top right)
  • Show minimap (bottom left)
  • Show map options (bottom right)
  • Show scale (absolute bottom right)
  • Show Google logo (bottom center)
  • Show preview box (under the search bar)
  • Show widget pane (whole left-side)


For most users, you should choose to show the search card and disable everything else. Most of the time, you aren’t using any of the other options, and it’s just clutter. When you do need it, you can always re-enable it in PureMaps.

Download: PureMaps for Chrome (Free)

4. Rocket Map (Chrome): Map Widget to Look Up Locations in Articles

When you’re reading an article in the news or Wikipedia, you’ll often come across geographical locations. Now, usually, you wouldn’t be bothered to look these up on a map because it’s too many steps. But Rocket Map adds a widget to each page, making it much easier.

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Once you install the extension and click it on any web page, you’ll get an overlaid widget in the bottom-right corner. Here, you can search for any location and view it in the small map embedded in the widget. It’s full-fledged Google Maps, so you can zoom in and out and choose between a regular view or a satellite view.

Download: Rocket Map for Chrome (Free)

5. EZ Maps and Snazzy Maps (Web): Easiest Way to Create Embeddable Custom Google Maps

EZ Maps is the easiest way to make custom Google Maps with markings according to you and then embed them in your website. You don’t need to be a developer or access the Google Maps API to do this. It’s completely free forever.

Once you create an account, you can start customizing the map. First, choose its size in pixels and whether you want it to be responsive to the screen width. Choose between road, terrain, or satellite maps, and set a default zoom level. Then you can start adding markers by dropping a pin or adding a marker directly to an address. You can also add hotspots, choosing their opacity and radius.

EZ Maps allows you to set how users will interact with the map. You can choose whether they can scroll, zoom, get Streetview, etc. Once you’re happy with the final product you can preview, copy the code, and paste it into your web page. It couldn’t be simpler.

Plus, EZ Maps lets you add skins and themes via Snazzy Maps. Snazzy Maps is a free and copyright-free place for designers to add custom overlays on Google Maps, such as making Google Maps look like the map from your favorite game or TV show or giving it different colors for the roads, landmarks, and terrains.

Learn Tricks to Master Google Maps on Mobile

While these five great tools do a lot to make Google Maps better on computers, they aren’t much use on phones. But if you use Android phones, you should learn these Google Maps tricks for Android that make it much more powerful, like making lists of locations or saving faster routes that Google doesn’t know about.


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