How to download maps to your iPhone to use offline

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Apple Maps in offline mode

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

One hiccup when using Apple Maps to get directions is that you need to be online to view and use the maps. If you’re in a dead zone or somewhere without Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity, you’re out of luck. This can be especially problematic if you’re driving in a car or riding a subway with no Internet access.

Well, it’s now a problem easily fixed.

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With iOS 17 on your iPhone, you can download specific maps to use offline. You can choose a narrow area or a wide range. Once the map section is downloaded, you can view it offline to get turn-by-turn directions for driving, walking, biking, or taking public transit between locations. You’re even able to see estimated arrival times and find hours, ratings and other details for nearby businesses and landmarks.

Offline maps naturally take up storage on your phone, but the Maps app will tell you how much space a map will use before you download it. Offline maps don’t sync across your Apple devices; However, you can watch with an Apple Watch when your iPhone is turned on and within Bluetooth range of your watch. Not all cities and regions are available for offline use as maps, but you’ll be able to quickly tell if your selected location is supported

The download option also works with Apple Maps on an iPad. This can be useful if you have a Wi-Fi-only iPad and want to use it to look up directions in your car or elsewhere.

How to download maps to your iPhone to use offline

First, make sure you’re running iOS 17 or higher on your iPhone. Go to Settings, select General and then tap on Software Update. You will be prompted to update your device or download and install the latest update

Update your phone

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There are several ways to download a map of a specific area. One way to do this is to search. Open the Apple Maps app and type the region, city, address, or landmark for your destination in the search field. If the area is supported for offline use, a download button will appear next to the search results. Tap that button.

Search for a location

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If the location is already on the screen as a result of the search, tap the Download button to download its map In some cases, you must tap the More button and then tap Download Map

Download the map for a displayed location

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Another way to download a specific area is to pin it first. Find the location you want on a map and then press down on the spot to place a pin on it. Then tap on Download button.

Download a map for a pinned location

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And here’s another way to download a map. Tap your profile icon to the right of the search field and select Offline Maps.

Access offline maps

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On the next screen, tap Download New Map. You can then choose a location from your recent searches or type a new one in the search field at the top

Download a new map

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Whichever method you use to find the location, the next screen displays a highlight box around the area you’ve chosen. If you want to reduce the area, drag the handle to a corner or to the top, bottom, left, or right side of the box. You can drag the region inside the box to reposition the region you want to download. Note the size of the map. When ready, tap Download.

Make changes and download your map

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Now let’s say you don’t have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection on your iPhone and you want to access one of your downloaded maps. Open the Maps app and search for your downloaded location. You can then view the map of the area and use your fingers to zoom in and out or drag the area around the screen.

View a downloaded map

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

You can also get point-to-point directions within the downloaded area. Tap the Directions button and enter your start and end points. Tap Go to Generate and see turn by turn directions.

Get directions

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In the search field, type the name of a business or landmark within the download area. On the next screen, you are able to see the hours, rating, contact details and other information for it.

View details of businesses and landmarks

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To resize a downloaded map in the Maps app, tap your profile icon to the right of the search field and select Offline Maps. Tap the map you want to rename. Drag the handles or move the area to resize the map Once done tap Download.

Resize a downloaded map

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To rename a map, swipe it to the right, tap Rename, and then type the new name.

Rename a downloaded map

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To delete a map, swipe it to the right and tap Delete or tap the map name and select Delete Map.

Delete a downloaded map

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Finally, you can adjust specific settings for offline maps. At the bottom of the Offline Maps screen, tap the Download option and specify whether you want to download maps over Wi-Fi only or over a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Enable the switch for automatic updates to receive any updates to a map.

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Turn on the switch for Optimize Storage if you want downloaded maps that you haven’t used in a while to be automatically deleted. And if you want to use your downloaded maps even when you have internet access, just turn on the switch for offline maps

Change settings for offline maps

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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