5 lesser-known Apple Maps features you should use on your iPhone

From clearing your frequent-location data to turning off Siri's voice while driving, these tips will help you get the most out of Apple Maps.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Apple Maps' features go beyond simple navigation.

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You might open Apple Maps daily to check the traffic, search for the nearest gas station or look for a new cafe, but those tasks just scratch the surface of everything that the most updated version of Apple Maps can do.

For example, there's a cool feature that lets you take a Flyover tour of a city, which is useful if you're planning a route or visit. And if you're planning a route on your Mac, you can send it to your iPhone . I'll also show you how to turn off your location history if you'd like to keep your navigation activities to yourself.

Read on for our list of five overlooked Apple Maps tricks that you should start using today, and if you have your own suggestion for an underused feature that you love, shout it out in the comments.


Apple Maps has a unique way to explore cities.

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1. Share Maps directions from your Mac to your iPhone

If you're using the Maps app on your Mac to plan a trip, you can send the directions to your iPhone when you're ready to hit the road. Note that you'll need to be signed in to iCloud account using the same Apple ID on both devices.

In the Maps app on your Mac, click Directions. Next, type in your starting location and destination. Click the Share button, shaped like a square with an arrow, located in the toolbar in the Maps app. Select your device -- it should be at the top of the list. You'll receive a notification on your iPhone that you'll need to tap to open the directions on your phone.

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2. Go into 3D mode in Apple Maps


3D maps can make the scene livelier.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

When you open Apple Maps, it will show you buildings in 2D mode by default. However, you can change it to 3D mode by placing two fingers on the screen and dragging upward. 

This works in both transit and satellite map views. You can see the entire panorama of the buildings by zooming in and holding one finger down on the screen while dragging the other finger across the screen.

3. Take the Flyover tour

When you search for a city in Apple Maps, such as New York or Miami, you're given the option to go into Flyover mode. This lets you see the city from the sky and even zoom in closer to the buildings. 

That can be useful for judging the distance between landmarks or viewing alternate routes. To use this function, search for the city you're visiting and select Flyover. Here's a list of cities with Flyover as an option.

You can zoom in and out on all the buildings, including the Statue of Liberty, by pinching the screen. To view different parts of the city, move your phone up, down and sideways. You can even see around the buildings by holding one finger on the screen and dragging the other across the screen.

You can also tap Start City Tour for an aerial video of the city and its landmarks. Note that Flyover and City Tour may not be available in your city yet.

4. Clear location history

If you'd rather not have your locations logged, you're in luck because you can clear out the places you most often visit and keep Apple from storing those locations. After all, we value privacy in technology more and more every day. 

In the Settings app, go to Privacy > Location Services > scroll down and tap System Services > scroll down and tap Significant Locations. You'll need to enter your passcode, use FaceID or TouchID in order to move to the next step. Now you can see the areas you've visited, how many times you went and how long it took you to get there. 

To clear your history, scroll to the bottom of the list and tap Clear History. This won't stop Apple Maps from logging your location in the future, though -- so you'll need to go a step further and toggle the switch off for Significant Locations, located at the top of the screen. 

Apple notes that turning this setting off will affect many apps and services that use personalized location services, like Maps, Do Not Disturb While Driving, CarPlay , Siri , Calendar and Photos, but not what exactly will be affected. Something to be aware of as you go about using your phone.

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5. Turn off Siri's voice while navigating

If you're singing along to your favorite songs while traveling, the last thing you want is Siri's voice to interrupt, saying, "In 2.5 miles, take the exit onto blah blah road." It totally kills the vibe and you miss the best part of the song. Or maybe you just don't like the extra chatter. Fortunately, you can turn off Siri's voice while using Maps.

To do so, open the Settings app and select Maps. Scroll down and tap on Driving & Navigation. Under the Navigation Voice Volume section, select No Voice. Now you won't hear Siri's navigation prompts. However, since you won't have the voice prompts telling you when to turn, you'll have to pay attention to the arrows on the map, which can be risky when you're driving. 

Another option is to pause the book or podcast you're listening to while Siri gives you directions. You'll follow the same steps as above (Settings > Maps > Driving & Navigation) and then toggle the Pause Spoken Audio switch on.

Now that you've learned these Apple Maps tricks, it's time to check out these three new Apple Maps features that you definitely need to try now. Also, take a look at these top tips on how to master Apple's iMessage chat app on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Originally published last month.