How to Find the Shortest Route on Google Maps

Thanks to technology, long gone are the days of pulling out maps and tracing our steps on flimsy paper. Developments now bring commuters (both personal and business) to the road with confidence. Online directions are only one component of getting from point A to point B; users can now determine the shortest route (in miles or kilometers) or the fastest way (due to traffic). When choosing the best route between two points, programs like Google Maps factor in traffic, construction, and accidents, helping you determine which ways are fastest or shortest.

Understanding the Fastest Route Versus the Shortest Route

The shortest route is the shortest distance between two points. It’s important to know that the shortest route isn’t always the fastest way, especially if there is traffic or construction. The shortest route taking you through a busy city core will likely take more time than a route that’s less direct.

The fastest route is a that Google Maps predicts will take less driving time according to current conditions, regardless of the distance from the destination. In this case, users will take a less direct route to the destination but will face less traffic or congestion on the drive.

Occasionally, the difference between the two route options is indistinguishable. Neither of these route options is a custom Google map; they’re simply automated results according to the points (and order) you enter into your route. Should the time savings be a matter of minutes, opting for the shortest route might make the most sense. It’s important to understand that the fastest way often contains backroads, side streets, and less populated areas. If the driver isn’t familiar with the site, it may be best to stick with the shortest option.

Getting your routes with Google Maps

To find the shortest route, visit or open the Maps app on your mobile device. At the top of the search bar, enter the destination or address. If the location is a standard business or restaurant, the company name will pull results. Choose the “Directions” button on the website to pull up the results. From there, you’ll be able to choose your transportation options (car, public transit, train, cycling, or walking).

If you simply want to find the best route between two points, Google Maps is a no-brainer. But what happens when you’re trying to optimize multiple points throughout the day? Arranging numerous locations within a route can save drivers time and resources. Unfortunately, Google Maps limits the stops to ten places on each route. The program doesn’t optimize the course for additional stops, meaning all addresses entered will be followed in order (not according to optimized time). If four stops are within the city on your route, Google will not put them together. It also prohibits more than one route at a time. You’ll have to manually enter all addresses after the initial ten points.

Developing a Custom Map with Third-Party Software

Whether you’re a delivery driver with more than ten stops or you simply want to optimize your route throughout the day, most third-party mapping applications bring integrated planning to the Google Maps platform. To get started, have all deliveries available in a spreadsheet program. Most programs will allow copy and paste functionality or the ability to copy and paste it directly into the application. Load the addresses onto the third-party program and select the routing option. From there, you’ll want to enter the address into your first destination. Continue adding any subsequent stops until all points are included. To reorganize the stops, choose the “optimize route” functionality.

You’ll be able to use the Google Map functionality (including traffic and construction updates) along with turn-by-turn directions with each stop. To start a new route, you’ll want to clear the form. To start the route, simply follow the navigation for quick updates through the stops.

Third-party functionality works best for any route that requires more than ten stops. It provides optimized routes, less time commuting, and increased productivity. Delivery drivers using optimized routes can drop off higher quantities of deliveries (or expedite shipping and receiving) when using optimized routes (especially for time-based optimization). Third-party apps will reorganize the delivery stops based on distance (or time, in specific applications) instead of leaving the order the sa