How to Use the iPhone Maps App to Get Directions When You Don’t Know an Exact Location

Sometimes you have only a vague notion of where you want to go, so how do you give your iPhone a general location? In a new city, for example, you might decide to head downtown and then see if there are any good coffee shops or restaurants. That’s fine, but how do you get downtown from your hotel in the suburbs?

Your iPhone can give you directions, but it needs to know the endpoint of your journey, and that’s precisely the information you don’t have. Sounds like a conundrum, for sure, but there’s a way to work around it. You can drop a pin on the map in the approximate area where you want to go. The Maps app can then give you directions to the dropped pin.

Here are the steps to follow to drop a pin on a map:

  1. In the Maps app, display a map of the city you want to work with:

    • If you’re in the city now, tap the Tracking icon in the lower left corner of the screen.

    • If you’re not in the city, tap Search, tap the Search box, type the name of the city (and perhaps also the name of the state or province), and then tap the Search button.

  2. Use finger flicks to pan the map to the approximate location you want to use as your destination.

  3. Tap Info (i) in the lower right corner of the screen.

    The Maps app displays a list of map options.

  4. Tap Drop a Pin.

    The Maps app drops a purple pin in the middle of the current map.

  5. Tap and hold the purple pin until it’s released, then drag the pin to the location you want.

    The Maps app creates a temporary bookmark called Dropped Pin that you can use when you ask the iPhone for directions (as described next).