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.

Stuff I Like:

I just got back from a run tonight that was frustrating. I wasn’t frustrated with my performance, but with my lack of direction. About 20 minutes into the run I realized that I was turned around and at that point I knew that I wasn’t sure how far my run was going to end up being. That’s about when I almost stopped running just to walk the rest of the way. I did walk for about 4-5 minutes, but got moving again when I realized that my body had the capacity to keep going, but my mind wanted to give up because of the frustration.

You see, I like to know how far my runs are going to be before I go. The tool that I like to use is It’s basically a Google Maps mash-up that lets you plot the route your are going to run/walk based on all the turns you’re going to take. Basically it’s the modern day version of driving around the neighborhood with your car to see how many miles a route is.

The cool part about the service, other than it being free, is that it uses the hybrid view, which lets you see both street names and landmarks. I’ve really enjoyed using it to make up new runs for me to go on. It’s kept me from getting bored with the same old run every day.

Oh, and when I got home, after I cleaned up, I logged back on to see how far I ended up running. It was 3.25 miles, which was .25 further than I planned to go, but not an excessive distance.