Google Spreadsheet + Google Maps Gadget = What I’ve been looking for since 2003

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a fan of maps. We had a world map on our wall when I was growing up that I would stare at for a long time. Anytime I’ve gone on a road trip I’ve planned out the routes by looking at road maps. I love being on a flight that has a GPS map available in-flight. Very early in my ministry I also made a map of where all the students lived using a big wall map and pushpins.

But about five years ago I really thought there could be a better way to keep track of people on a map. The great thing about having the push pin map was that I could get a feel for where everyone lived and plan events based on that info. The bad part was that in order for it to be useful the pins had to be numbered and anytime someone new came to the ministry it totally threw off the numbers being in alphabetic order.

I tried messing with some software and plotting, but I never liked the end result. Google has since come to my rescue. I recently stumbled across a post at the Official Google Docs Blog giving simple instructions on how to insert a google map gadget into your Google Spreadsheet. All you need is a column of addresses, but it’s very useful to have a second column to describe what the marker on the map is (the gadget calls these the tooltip). Once you have both of these columns the steps are very simple:

  1. Highlight all the cells in both columns.
  2. Click Insert | Gadget …
  3. Click Maps.
  4. Click the Add to Spreadsheet button under Map.
  5. Give your map gadget a title.
  6. Click the the check box next to “Last column as tooltip” then click “Apply and close” and your map will appear in your spreadsheet.
  7. OPTIONAL: If you want your map to be bigger click the arrow on the top right corner of the gadget and choose “Move to own sheet…” and it will be as big as the screen will allow.

I made an example of the map that will show up using a list of Chipotle restaurants close to my house. Here it is:

You can also see the original spreadsheet for this map here.

Got any other cool Google tricks? Share them in the comments.