Take GPS Coordinates with your Smartphone, Part I

Taking GPS coordinates has never been easier thanks to smartphones and several free apps.  compass-clipart 

This tutorial will cover how to find coordinates for specific locations using an Android smartphone. Part 2 will be a how-to for mapping routes. I’ll be posting a how-to for iPhones soon.

What can you create? 

Using just my phone and Google Earth Pro, I plotted the location of grave stones for local men killed in World War I and buried in Wayne County. The following map was created with some of that data.

Wayne County World War I grave locations
Click to enlarge any image
Grave location of Moses Hadley
A zoomed in view of the grave location of Moses Hadley, buried in Greenleaf Cemetery.

How to plot specific points

1. Download and install the free app Location Marker from the Google Play store.

Location Marker app


2. Go to your phone’s Settings menu and select Location. Turn on location and make sure that it is set to “high accuracy” mode. Also, turn on your cellular data. (This is not necessary but it does help improve accuracy and uses only a tiny bit of data)

Android settings menu                  Android location menu


3. Open the Location Marker app, tap the button in the bottom right corner, and select the Settings tab.

Location marker settings menu


4. For the best results make sure that “Max updates” is set to 9, “Update interval” set to “Fastest”, and “Best location” is set to “More accurate”.

Location marker settings menu 2


5. Go back to the main screen and the app will begin searching for your location. (If it doesn’t press the start button in the bottom left corner)

Location marker - start button


6. When the status bar reads “Location fixed” you’ve got your coordinates!

Location marker main screen


7. To save those coordinates press the location marker icon (next to the start button at the bottom left of the screen).

Location marker save coordinates


8. To view your saved coordinates press the sheet of paper icon at the right bottom.

          location marker coordinates log button          location marker log page



9. The app names each location by date and time. If you want to rename coordinates, select a location from the list and then press the edit button (the pencil icon) at the bottom left.

location marker edit entry


10. To view those coordinates on a map, press the globe icon and select Google Maps to open the coordinates. (If you don’t have Google Maps you can download it for free from the Play store)

     location marker- show on map     location marker - open map     location marker - google maps


Plot points with Google Earth Pro

So, you’ve got some coordinates and you’ve viewed them on your phone, but what if you want to view multiple coordinates on a map?

1. Download and install the free program Google Earth Pro on your PC.

2. Enter your coordinates in the text box at the top left of the screen.

google earth - main screen


3. Click the Search button and voila!google earth - coordinate screen


4. Right click on your coordinates in the left menu and select “Save to My Places” from the menu.

google earth - save place


5. In the menu on the left under “Places”, scroll down and right click on your coordinates and select “Rename” from the menu.

google earth - rename


6. You can edit the location information, including the icon, by right clicking on the location in the Places menu and selecting “Properties”.

google earth - edit properties


7. If you want to save more coordinates just repeat the above steps in Google Earth.

8. To save your map, click the Save Map icon from the menu at the top of the screen.


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