Google My Maps vs Lists: Top Features for Travelers

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There are two powerful trip planning tools built on top of Google Maps that allow users to create their own custom maps with pinned locations: Google My Maps and Google Lists. 

If you’ve read my tutorial about using Google My Maps to plan a trip, you might be wondering: what’s the difference between these two tools? Why would you want to use Google My Maps vs Lists?  

Keep reading for a quick summary of the unique features each one offers so you can decide which one is right for you.

Benefits of Google My Maps

There are a number of features that only Google My Maps offers, but these are my top four reasons that you may want to use this tool over Google Lists.

Ability to add up to 10 layers per map

These can be toggled on and off if you want to limit your view. Having layer functionality allows you to build maps with a lot of locations without it being overwhelming.

Use custom icons and colors in one map

Google Lists only give you one emoji per map (or the standard teal icon), whereas Google My Maps is highly customizable. You can use many different icons and colors, and this functionality makes it much easier to see different categories of locations at a glance.

Add routes to visualize your trip or walking path

I don’t use this on every map, but having it as a layer option can be really handy for road trips or when you’re taking a walking tour or bike path. It allows you to see your overall route and where stops are located along the way.

Import location pins and routes

If you have a spreadsheet with location information, or files from your past Google Maps timeline trips or fitness app routes, you can easily import these into Google My Maps. 

Read More: To learn how to use all the features of Google My Maps, head to our in-depth My Maps tutorial.

Benefits of Google Lists

Despite the great features of Google My Maps, there are a couple huge advantages to using Google Maps Lists.

Available for offline use 

When you download a map area that your list covers, you’ll get the location pins as well. This is hugely helpful when you’ll be traveling in an area with poor reception or another country where you don’t have data coverage.

The fact that Google My Maps doesn’t have this is one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from people.

Create and edit Lists in the Google Maps mobile app

Both Lists and My Maps allow you to edit the custom maps on desktop, and both can be viewed inside the Google Maps app.

But only Lists lets you create and edit them directly in the Google Maps app on your iPhone or Android device. You can’t edit a My Map from your phone.

This is obviously a huge advantage of Google Lists. Most of us are not sitting down to do trip planning at our computers 100% of the time. We find out about a cool spot on Instagram or Tiktok, we hear a podcast episode that mentions places we want to visit on vacation, or we research weekend brunch spots on our phone and want to save our top picks. 

This makes the ability to add to Lists on the go incredibly useful.

Read More: To find out how to use all the features of Lists, head to our in-depth tutorial for Google Maps Saved Places Lists.

Google Lists vs. My Maps Comparison

Feature Google My Maps Google Lists
Shareable ✔️ ✔️
Embed on a website ✔️
Share on your Google Guides profile ✔️
Add notes ✔️ ✔️
Add photos ✔️
Custom pins and colors in one map ✔️
(An emoji can be used for an entire map)
Available for offline download ❌  ✔️
Add routes (walking, biking, driving) ✔️
(Cannot be used for navigation—see details)
Edit: web version ✔️ ✔️
View: web version ✔️ ✔️
Edit: Google Maps app ✔️
View: Google Maps app ✔️ ✔️
Navigate to pins in mobile app ✔️ ✔️
Layers ✔️
(Must use separate lists)
Item limit 10 layers
10,000 lines, shapes, or places total
2,000 per layer
10 stops per directions layer
Reportedly 500, undocumented by Google
Import: CSV, spreadsheet, KML from Google Timeline, or GPX from fitness app ✔️

Why does Google have both custom My Maps and Lists of Saved Places? I can’t pretend to know the ways of Google.

In a perfect world, we’d get the best features in both tools combined into one. And of course, knowing that Google can do whatever they want and that they’ve deprecated apps and features in the past, we can speculate whether they’ll do the same here. As far as I know, they haven’t made any announcements or plans to do so.

Conclusion: Is Google My Maps or Lists Better?

Which tool you decide to use depends on what features are your top priorities. You might also use both in different scenarios. I’ve been using Google My Maps for years to plan trips, so I probably am biased in my preference for this tool. I love the layers and custom icons. However, I’ve started using Google Lists for smaller, local things I want to save, like nearby beaches or weekend staycations. 

What are your thoughts on these tools? Are you using either or both for your travel planning? Feel free to leave a comment and chime in—I’d love to hear from you!

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