How to Enter GPS Coordinates in Google Maps

Using Google Maps, you can pinpoint any location in the world by entering GPS coordinates. Additionally, if you need GPS coordinates for a location, you can get them from Google Maps.

Entering GPS Coordinates in Google Maps

Go to Google Maps. Type or paste the GPS coordinates into the search field and press Enter. As long as the coordinates you entered are correct, Google Maps automatically shows you that location with a red marker.

Google Maps accepts three different formats for GPS coordinates:

1. DMS: Degrees, minutes, and seconds: 34°01'46.6"N 118°28'11.3"W

2. DMM: Degrees and decimal minutes: 34 1.77666, -118 28.18836

3. DD: Decimal degrees: 34.029611, -118.469806

Note that each of these notations use examples for the same location. Each have two sets of numbers: one for the latitude and one for the longitude. These two numbers are normally separated by a space in DMS notation, while DMM and DD notation separate them with a comma and a space.

Google Maps showing Demand Media's location in Santa Monica.
GPS coordinates written in DMS notation.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Google.

Getting GPS Coordinates From Google Maps

Google Maps can give you the GPS coordinates for any location in the world. Simply type an address in the search field, or click anywhere on a map. Right-click the red marker indicating your position and select What's Here. Information about the location appears below the search field, including the GPS coordinates in DD notation.

GPS coordinates for Demand Media in Santa Monica, CA.
Select What's Here to get the GPS coordinates.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Google.

Understanding GPS Notations

When using DMS notation, the first number is followed by the °, or degree symbol. The second is followed by an apostrophe for minutes and the third is followed by a quotation mark for seconds. N or S denotes North or South, while E or W denotes East or West. A space is normally placed between the longitude and latitude. If you were measuring something on a table, this notation would be the equivalent to writing "1 meter, 5 centimeters, 5 millimeters."

DMM notation uses the same notation as DMS for degrees and minutes, but instead of giving seconds, it uses a decimal value as part of the minute. This is just the same as saying "1 meter and 5.5 centimeters" in our table-top comparison. Instead of specifying N,S, E or W, North and East are expressed by using positive values, while South and West are written as negative values.

DD notation simplifies the numbers even further. Minutes and seconds are replaced with a decimal unit of the degrees. This is much like writing "1.55 meters."