Measuring geodesic distance—that's distance as the crow flies, or the literal shortest route between two points—on Google Maps long required an oddly analog approach: You looked at the map’s scale and used a ruler or thumb to make rough calculations.
Google Maps this week has updated that stopgap method with a fresh tool. Users can right-click on any location on a map, select “measure distance,” click on another location, and see a line displaying the exact mileage between the two points.
If you’re feeling artistic, keep clicking on other spots: A vector marking the distance from the last spot will appear. You can also drag the plot points around to adjust. Bear in mind, these distances aren’t exactly practical for non-avian travelers, unless you’re measuring along an actual street or pedestrian pathway. But why not sketch out the perimeter of your city? Washington, D.C., for instance, is shaped like a sock.