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How to Measure Length, Distance and Area on Google Maps

Eugene is a qualified control/instrumentation engineer Bsc (Eng) and has worked as a developer of electronics & software for SCADA systems.

Measuring distance on Google Maps is fairly straightforward, but did you know it's also possible to measure area?

Measuring distance on Google Maps is fairly straightforward, but did you know it's also possible to measure area?

Google Map's measuring tool can be used to measure the distance between two points and the result is displayed in feet and metres. Alternatively, values are displayed in miles and kilometres if a user zooms out to view a greater-sized region of the map.

Recently, however, I discovered that it's also possible to draw lines around a region on a map and calculate the area enclosed by the line segments. In this guide, we'll discover first how to measure distance using Google Maps on a desktop (or notebook) and then how to measure area.

How to Measure Length

First let's measure the diagonal length of the field in the photo below.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

Step 1. Right-Click to Bring Up the Context Menu

Right-click on the map and select "Measure Distance " from the pop-up menu. A small circular marker appears.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

Step 2. Select the Start Point

Left-click and drag the start marker to the point where you want to measure from. Alternatively you could have right-clicked first on the point where you wanted to start from before selecting "Measure Distance" from the menu.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

Step 3. Click on the End Point

Click the point on the map where you want to measure to. A second marker appears with a line joining it to the start marker. Distance is displayed on a panel at the bottom of the screen and also on a label adjacent to the end point on the map.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

If you zoom in, you'll notice that graduations are added to the line joining the start and end points. In the photo below, 10 graduations are added from the 0 to 200 feet label.

How to Measure Area

The steps to measuring area are similar to those for measuring length.

Step 1. Repeat the Process for Measuring Length

Using the steps above, position a start point and second point on the boundary of the region you want to measure the area of.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

Step 2. Continue to Position Nodes Around the Perimeter of the Region

Continue to left-click and add new points or nodes around the measured region of interest. Distance from the start point is labelled at regular intervals along the complete path (in the second image below at 500, 1000 and 1500 feet). The total path length is displayed in a panel at the bottom of the screen.

Look at the photo below. This selection path on another map shows more clearly how intermediate distances from the start point are labelled at regular intervals along the path.


how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

Step 3. Position the End Point on the Start Point

Click on the start point to complete the boundary path. The box at the bottom of the screen updates to show the enclosed area and distance (the perimeter length of the field in this example).

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps
how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

How to Convert Between Measurements

UnitsHow to Convert

Square feet to acres

Divide by 43560

Square metres to hectares

Divide by 10,000

Feet to miles

Divide by 5280

Metres to kilometres

Divide by 1000

Moving the Nodes to Adjust the Boundary

If the line segments don't perfectly match the boundary of interest, they can be repositioned by moving the nodes. You can do this while drawing the boundary or alternatively after fully completing it (when you've clicked on the start node again). Simply left click and drag any of the node points to adjust their position. You can also left click on a node to delete it. The panel showing distance and area at the bottom of the screen updates to show the changed measurements.

how-to-measure-length-and-area-on-google-maps

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Eugene Brennan