Here’s a tip for a few select people. Wonderful people. The best people. My people. All of you who use the desktop version of Outlook.
You also use Google Maps, because everyone uses Google Maps. That’s obvious, right? It has become so valuable, so rich, so far ahead of the competitors, that you are doing yourself a disservice if you use anything else. It’s a showcase for Google’s integration and syncing; I still find it a bit magical when a single click in Google Maps on a computer sends a destination to my phone. Google now integrates real-time feedback about traffic conditions into its driving directions and has so much data – building outlines, Street View, business info, so much more – that nothing else comes close. (If you’re a map junkie or just love glimpses of cutting-edge technology, you have to look at this fascinating cartographer’s article about Google Maps. What they’re doing is jaw-dropping. As this article says: “Google Maps is a ridiculous achievement that is only possible by understanding and combining vast quantities of different datasets, which clearly only Google is capable of at this level.”)
Let’s go back to Outlook.
When you open a contact in the desktop version of Outlook, there’s a “Map It” button by the address. Perhaps you recall the bitter disappointment you felt when you clicked on it once and it took you to Bing Maps. You’ve never clicked on it again. In fact, if you’re like most people, you’ve forgotten that Bing Maps is a thing.
Good news! It’s possible to alter the button so it opens Google Maps.
Bad news! Changing the behavior of the Map It button requires editing the registry. And that means I have to issue the obligatory registry danger warning.
The Obligatory Registry Danger Warning
Careless registry editing can cause irreversible damage to your computer. Do you see the word “irreversible”? Do you have it clearly in mind? You can kill your computer in seconds by mucking around in the registry. Don’t go there unless you are 100% sure of what you’re doing.
If you don’t know how to start Registry Editor, then you probably shouldn’t be doing this. Call your trusted IT support person, who loves you deeply and lives to serve.
How to use Google Maps in Outlook
These instructions work if you use Outlook 2016 or the current version of Office installed with an Office 365 subscription. The details are slightly different for earlier versions of Office and might be different for the 64-bit version of the current Office programs. In those cases, you may be able to find the correct registry location in this article.
First, click on File / Exit to completely shut down Outlook.
In regedit, browse to:
Right-click in the right pane and click on New / String Value. For the string name, enter:
Double-click on the MapScriptURL key to open it. Enter this for the data value.
The next time you open an Outlook contact and click Map It, Google Maps will open up the address in a web browser. This is a wonderful thing that makes me happy. I am a very odd person, so I make no promises for your state of mind when you’re done. But we are all slipping into the Googleverse, and this is one more small, helpful step to being absorbed.