A hidden Google Maps Street View feature will let you travel back in time

A vintage style map of the world
(Image credit: Shutterstock / pingebat)

Google Maps isn’t just a helpful guide to find your way around a new area, it has a hidden feature that turns it into a time machine.

While you won’t be able to go back and change the past, you can flick back through the archive of Google Maps’ Street View images to reminisce about what your local area used to look like.

If you’re after a hit of nostalgia, this is a fun little feature you’ll definitely want to try out, so here’s how to go back in time with Google Maps.

How to visit the past with Google Maps

For starters, you’re going to want to open up Google Maps on your PC and then drop into Street View.

A simple way to do this is to drag the yellow figure (Pegman) in the bottom right corner onto any road. When you grab a hold of them the streets will glow blue so you know where you can drop them.

Once you’re down in Street View, you’ll want to look in the top left corner of the window. Here you’ll see a brief description of where you are and underneath it’ll say Street View followed by a month and a year.

Click on this and a timeline will appear with a few points on. By dragging the gray circle forwards or backward you can see what the place looked like at different times throughout the last decade or so.

Once you’ve scrolled back to when you want to visit, click on the image and you’ll now be able to explore Street View in the past.

Not all places will be equal though. In our testing, we found some locations – like New York’s Time Square – had over a dozen points to travel back to, while others had only a couple or no other points at all.

Generally, the best roads to visit are in towns or cities, while dead ends and those out in the sticks will only have been captured once or twice – and that’s if you’re lucky.

If you want to find out about other cool Google Maps tricks we have a guide that’ll teach you about five things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. And when you’re with that, be sure to check out our follow-up that teaches you about five more hidden Google Maps features.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.