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3 good reasons to draw on Windows Maps

Find your way, see where you've been or just jot down some notes.

It's not a new feature from the Windows 10 Creators Update, but you may have missed it if you use Google Maps for your geographical and navigational needs. Windows 10's stock Maps app has a drawing tool that's quite useful, especially if you have a Windows 10 touchscreen PC.

To start drawing on your map, tap or click the pen icon in the top right of Maps to open the Windows Ink toolbar. It features six buttons. Let's take them from left to right:

  • The Ballpoint-pen button lets you choose an ink color and size for note-taking.
  • The Measure-distance button lets you choose ink color and size when drawing lines to measure the distance as the crows flies between two points.
  • The Erase button lets you erase your scribbles and also features an Erase all ink option if you want to start over.
  • The Directions button lets you get driving, transit or walking directions between two points.
  • The Ruler button overlays a ruler on your map to help you draw straight lines.
  • The Touch-writing button lets you draw on the map using your finger or stylus on a touchscreen or a mouse or touchpad. Toggle off this button if you want to be able to pan and zoom on your map instead of draw on it.

Those are the six inking buttons and here are three ways that drawing on Windows Maps can help you find your way or see where you've been.

1. Get directions

Wondering how to get from point A to point B? First, tap or click to toggle on both the Directions button and the Touch-writing button. Now, just draw a line from point A to point B and Maps will route you the best way. From the directions panel, you can choose Driving, Transit or Walking.


2. Measure distance

How long did you just run? You can measure the distance you traveled by tapping or clicking to toggle on both the Measure-distance and Touch-writing buttons and then drawing a line along your route. Maps will tell you the distance of your line or loop as soon as you lift your finger.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

3. Add notes

You can mark up a map to share with a friend. Your notes are saved to the map and move as you zoom in and out on the map. To add notes to a map, tap or click to toggle on both the Ballpoint-pen and Touch-writing buttons and then start scribbling. You can share a map by tapping or clicking triple-dot button in the top right and selecting Share.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET