Google Maps isn’t just a useful guide to finding your way around a new area, it has a hidden feature that turns it into a time machine.
While you can’t go back and change the past, you can browse Google Maps’ archive of Street View images to reminisce about what your area was like.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic shot, this is a fun little feature you’ll definitely want to try, so here’s how to turn back time with Google Maps.
How to visit the past with Google Maps
To start, you’re going to want to open up Google Maps on your PC and then switch to Street View.
A simple way to do this is to drag the yellow figure (Pegman) in the lower right corner on any road. When you catch them, the streets glow blue so you know where you can drop them off.
Once you’re in Street View, you’ll want to look in the upper left corner of the window. Here you will see a brief description of where you are and below you will see Street View followed by a month and year.
Click on it and a timeline will appear with some dots on it. By dragging the gray circle forward or back, you can see what the place looked like at different times over the past decade.
Once you’ve returned to the time you want to visit, click on the image and you can now explore Street View in the past.
Not all places will be equal though. In our testing, we found that some locations – like New York’s Times Square – had more than a dozen return points, while others had only a few points or none at all.
As a general rule, the best roads to visit are in towns or cities, while dead ends and those in sticks will only have been captured once or twice – and that’s if you have the chance.
If you want to check out some other cool Google Maps tricks, we have a guide that will teach you five things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. And when you’re with that, be sure to check out our follow-up which teaches you about five other hidden features of Google Maps.