Here is a quick trick that I have found useful on all sorts of occasions. KML files are “Keyhole Markup Language” files which contain geographic information for display in software such as Google Earth and within Google Maps.
The format, and KMZ, its compressed version, is increasingly a popular standard for exchanging digital maps. Once you have downloaded a particular KML or KMZ file it is easy enough to open it in Google Earth, but sometimes, when you aren’t in the mood to wait for the application to open or wish to clutter your download folder, there is a quick and easy way to view the contents of the file directly online:
1) Copy the link to the KML or KMZ file you find online (Here is an example KML file to try this on).
2) Paste the link into the search box for maps.google.com
Even faster, just paste the link into your google search field in Firefox or whatever browser you use and click the “View on Google Maps” link that appears in the search results. The contents of the KML/KMZ file will be plotted directly in your browser.
While I’m on the topic of maps, another nice little tool that I find handy (and there are many similar ones online with more advanced features for converting coordinates, etc.) is this map tool for quickly looking up the decimal latitude and longitude degree points for a location. Do you have a handy map tricks of your own to share?