How To Share Your Location Using Google Maps

You can share your location with friends and colleagues hours or days

Google maps on cellphone

For me, it happens at least once a week. I’m trying to find a friend at a local park, a crowded music festival, or at a bar they wandered into but now for some reason can’t remember the name of (or there’s a few in town and they aren’t sure which one they’ve made it to)… and we spend a bunch of time exchanging texts, photos, and other awkward descriptions of each other’s location until we’re finally able to meet up. It’s annoying, and a huge time-suck, but it’s for the most part how it is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With Google Maps, you can share your location with friends, so they can pinpoint where you are, and use Google’s stellar navigational skills to get them to you fast. Locations can be shared for just right now when you need to meet up with someone at a local park, or can be shared for longer periods of time. For instance, if you happen to be vacationing with a few friends in Vegas, you might all share your location with each other for the weekend, so you can at a quick glance see that two friends at gambling at the MGM, another at Planet Hollywood, and one is still in bed at the hotel.

While you probably don’t want your friends to be able to keep tabs on you constantly, there are definitely a few occasions where having an idea of where everyone is can be super useful. If you want to give it a try, here’s a step-by-step guide to making it happen. I’d recommend settings things up before a big trip with everyone, so when you need the feature you can use it without any missteps.

I’m going to kick things off with instructions on how to share your location with people who have Google accounts. At this point, it’s highly likely that this is all of your friends. Even if they’re not huge Gmail users they probably have a Google account (or totally should, tell them to get on that). If you have a die-hard pal that doesn’t have an account (there’s always that one guy) the feature won’t be quite as robust, but there’s an option for that down at the bottom of the page.

So, for your Google Account friends, here’s how to make the magic happen:

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Add Everyone’s Email To Your Address Book

Make sure you have everyone’s Gmail address saved in your Google Contacts. If you’ve ever emailed these people, then chances are good you’ll have their info saved. On your Android phone, that means going into their contact card, and making sure the email field is filled out with an account they use. On your computer, you can access Google Contacts by logging into Gmail, and click on the “Gmail” in the top-left corner. From there, select “Contacts” from the drop-down menu. On the Contacts page, you can add new people by clicking the big pink + sign in the bottom right of the page and add to individual’s entries by clicking on their name.

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Launch Google Maps

Launch Google Maps on your Android or iOS device. Tap the menu button (it looks like three lines and is on the left side of the search bar). About halfway down the menu options, you’d see “Share Location.” tap on that to bring up the share location window.

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Choose How Long You’d Like To Share

Decide how long you’d like to share your location. There’s an option for “Until I turn this off,” if you’d like it to be indefinite for now. Alternatively, you can select the first option to specify a time. It defaults to one hour (for those quick “Where are you?!?” messages. You can press the + or - button beside it to change how long you’re sharing. The time the share will expire will appear, so you know exactly when you’re going to run out of time. 

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Select People To Share With

Once you’ve determined how long you’d like to share your location, you can designate who you’d like to share it with. Tap the “Select People” button at the bottom of your page to select whom you’d like to share with. Once you select a person and send, they’ll get a notification letting them know you’ve shared your location with them and they'll be able to access your location via Google Maps on their device. 

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For People Without Google Accounts

For people without Google Accounts, you can still share your location, but that person can not share theirs. To do so, go through the steps I outlined above, and then go into the “More” menu and select “Copy to Clipboard” option. That will give you a link you can pass along to friends via text, email, Facebook Messenger and the like, so they can find you. This one can be super useful when you’re trying to meet up with a ton of people you don’t know very well. For instance, if you’re the leader of a tour group, you can share your location so people can meet you for the tour and/or catch up to the group if they’re running behind.