How I Grabbed And Stitched Myself A Huge Map


Stitched together image exampleOnline maps such as Google and Bing are wonderful. You can call up a map from within your web browser of pretty much any place in the world, even at a scale so large that the map on your screen is almost life-size! But when you come to print your map, it's a different matter. You can only print the current screen image. Which, if you've zoomed tightly into your chosen area, means that you only get a handful of streets.

Wouldn't it be useful if there was a way to grab a larger section of an online map that can fit on the screen, and save it on your PC as an image? Well there is, sort of.

Sadly, creating a large map-grab isn't as easy as it once was. Google used to provide a method, called an API, through which programs could request a section of map. A handful of products were designed to use this API in order to request and download large numbers of map areas, and then stitch them together. Sadly, Google no longer offers this service so those programs no longer work. But if you're willing to put in a little effort, you can still achieve the same effect.

You'll need 2 programs on your PC. One to take screen grabs and save them onto your computer, and another to stitch those images together into a larger image by automatically detecting any overlapping sections. For my own purposes, I chose Greenshot as the screen shot grabber, and Autostitch to put the images together.

You'll find Greenshot mentioned at including details on how to download and use it. As for Autostitch, there are details at

With both programs installed, you're ready to go. Head to the map site you like best, locate the area you want to capture, and zoom in to your required level. Now grab the screen using Greenshot. I find it easiest to use the 2nd option on Greenshot's menu, which will grab the current screen and instantly save it with a pre-selected name. Make sure you don't include any parts of the screen other than those which contain maps. Make sure you ignore menus and so on.

When you've grabbed the screen, pan the map slightly and grab again. You can normally use the keyboard for this. Keep panning and grabbing until you're confident that you have captured all of the area that you want. If in doubt, grab again. The stitcher won't mind. Include as much overlap as you want - there's no need to align everything neatly.

Once you've got your collection of images, the final stage is easy. Just fire up Autostitch, point it at the folder where your screen grabs are saved, and tell it to start. It will automatically join them all together into a large image, and detect the overlapping areas in order to work out the best way to create the super-image.

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I used to use Autostitch. Then i found Microsoft DICE (Digital Image Composite Editor), which did everything it did and more.

Yes, a wonderful, useful idea. Now if I could figure out how to set Google Maps for full screen without the zoom, pan and tilt toolbars then I could just capture full screens with alt>print screen.

A wonderful, interesting and totally useful idea, and some great offerings. Thank you Rob.Schifreen!