Although each of the steps needed to post your photos to Google Maps are fairly straightforward, Google doesn’t make it that easy to get started. The aim of this guide is to simplify the entire process and give step by step instructions for anyone who wants to add photos to Google Maps, even if you’ve never done so before.
Before starting out, you’ll need to have a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can quickly create one for free. For more details, see Getting Started with Google.
Upload Your Photos
Before you can add photos to Google Maps, each photo must be stored online and have its own URL. If you already use a particular online photo sharing site, you can upload your photos to that site. Another option is to use Google’s free Picasa Web Albums. Here are the instructions for uploading your photos to that site. (If you’ve already uploaded your photos to an online site, you can skip to the next section.)
1. In a new browser window, go to the Picasa Web Albums homepage. If you haven’t done so already, you will need to log in using your Google account. A screen shot of that homepage is shown below. (Click any image for a larger view.)
2. Don’t worry about the Launch Picasa or any download buttons. These buttons will install the Picasa desktop application to your PC, which is unneeded. Instead, click on the Upload button in the gray Picasa Web Albums toolbar. The screen shot above shows the location of this button.
3. A box entitled Upload Photos: Create Album will appear on your screen. Here, you can enter as much (or as little) information as you like. However, there are two important things you should fill out here – the Title field and the Share type. For the Title field, you can just choose a brief description of the photos you are adding. The Share drop down box gives you more control over who will be able to find the photos in this particular album. Since I eventually want to add the photos to a public Google map, I’ll choose Public as the Share setting. When done, click Continue.
4. Now, you should be back on the Picasa Web Albums page in your browser. Click the first Choose File button and browse your hard drive to locate the photos you want to upload. Once you’ve selected each photo you want to upload, the name of that file will show next to the Choose File button, but the photo will not actually be loaded into Picasa Web Albums until you click the Start Upload button.
You can select multiple photos to upload at once. When ready, click the Start Upload button and wait for the process to complete. This may take a few moments, depending on the size of your photos and your Internet connection speed. For this example, I will just be uploading one digital photo of Pyramid Lake.
5. Once the photos have been uploaded, Picasa Web Albums will show the album you’ve just created with thumbnails of each photo. You can click on any photo for a larger view.
Note: When adding a photo to Google Maps, you’ll need the full URL of that photo. You can obtain this URL by right-clicking on the image and choosing an option such as View Image or Open Image in New Tab – the exact phrasing of the option will vary, depending on which browser you are using. Once the image opens in a new browser page that shows only the image and none of the Picasa Web Albums data, you can copy the URL from your browser’s address bar.
On the next page, we’ll cover the steps needed to add your uploaded photos to Google Maps.
Create a Google Map
The next thing to do is to create a custom Google map that includes the area where you want to add a photo.
1. In a new browser window, go to the Google Maps homepage.
2. Click on the My Maps link.
3. If you’ve created custom maps before, a list of those maps will appear. In this case, click on the Create new map link.
However, if this is your first personal Google map, you’ll see a slightly different panel on your screen that includes a video tutorial on creating maps in Google. For this case, click the Get started button.
You may also want to watch the video to learn more about the capabilities of Google Maps, but that’s not necessary for this tutorial.
4. Next, you’ll be prompted to enter a title and description for the map you are about to create. You’ll also be asked if you want the map to be public or unlisted. For this example, we’ll select Public so that everyone will be able to view the map and the photos we plan to add to it.
5. Locate the area in Google Maps to which you want to add a photo. Next, click on the Placemark icon as shown in the screen shot below.
6. Drag the placemark to the exact point on the map where you want to eventually add a photo. Once you release the mouse button and place the marker, another pop-up window will appear and prompt you to enter a title and description for the marker. Fill out this information and click OK.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each photo that you plan to add to your map. When finished, click the Done button next to the map’s name in the left panel next to the map.
Add Photos to the Google Map
Now that your photos have been uploaded and a custom map has been created, we can finally add photos to Google Maps.
1. First, go to the Google Maps homepage, click on My Maps, and then click on the map that contains the area where you want to add a photo. Once there, click on the Edit button.
2. Now, click on the placemark for the location where you want to add the photo. The pop-up window containing the title and description of this location will appear. Click on the Rich text link.
3. After clicking on the Rich text link, several additional icons will appear above the description field. Click on the last icon in this row – the one that looks like a framed picture.
4. A new dialog box will appear on your screen, asking for the URL of the photo that you want to add. Paste that URL into the box and click OK.
5. Click the Done button in the right side panel to save the map. Now, when you select that map and click on the placemark, the photo will appear along with the title and description for that location.