Are you looking to switch from Google Maps out of concern that your privacy is being compromised? If you are a Linux user, you can use Gnome Maps to find the best route from your location to your desired destination. The best thing is, you can export the map and navigation instructions as a PDF to take with you. Let’s see how.
Download/Install Gnome Maps
You can find Gnome Maps in your Software Center or Package Manager. For the command line, if you are using Ubuntu, Debian, or another distribution that uses
apt, you can install Gnome Maps with:
sudo apt install gnome-maps
If you are on Arch, Manjaro, or a compatible distribution, use the command:
sudo pacman -S gnome-maps
When the program is installed, you will find it in your desktop’s main menu, among the rest of your installed applications.
Auto & Manual Location
Theoretically, when you run Gnome Maps, it presents your current location on its maps. Practically, since our computers aren’t geared with a GPS, it’s highly probable this location will be off. That’s because, for the average computer, Gnome Maps tries to guess its location purely based on its IP address.
You can return automatically to the address Gnome Maps guessed by pressing the first button on the top left.
Enter the location you want to use as the starting point for your route in the search field on the top of the window. If you want, you can find places of interest nearby by right-clicking on the displayed location and selecting “What’s here?” from the menu that appears.
You can manually enter the starting point of your route, but it’s easier to find it on the map, right-click there, and select “Route from here” from the menu that pops up.
Your destination can be selected the same way. Right-click on a point on the map and select “Route to here,” or, if you are checking out a point of interest, click the first button under its address, “Add to new route.”
The program will calculate and present a path between the two points. If you want to make a stop on a third point, you won’t have to go off the path and rely on guesswork: you can include it in your route. With a path between two points already defined, right-click anywhere on the map and select “Add intermediate destination.”
If you want to create more complex, custom routes, you can include more points in the same way. We don’t know if the program has a limit, but it accepted up to five “intermediate destinations” during our testing.
If you want to get a more visual idea of what you will meet across your defined path, you can swap to satellite imagery. Click on the second button, for “layers,” and choose the second thumbnail that shows a satellite map.
Satellite maps are worse for actual navigation since they lack street names. And even when they do, they are harder to read.
And yet, if you zoom in, by using your mouse’s wheel, you will be able to see how an area looks in real life instead of guessing based on a map’s abstraction. You can locate any landmarks and memorize navigational points (like parks, statues, etc.) that can make finding your destination easier.
Note that satellite imagery is used only for reference. The exported files use “typical” maps.
Gnome Maps allows you to export the map and navigational instructions to a PDF file. To do that, click on the “Print” icon on the top right and then select “Print to File” from the menu that appears.
This way, even if you don’t have a way to use maps and navigation on your smartphone, you can use this PDF to navigate to your destination.
That is, as long as you have a PDF reader on your mobile device.
If you prefer to use a mobile mapping app instead of a PDF file, you can check out these alternatives to Google Maps. If you can’t live without Google Maps, then you may want to turn on Incognito Mode so your browsing data is not saved.
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