As an Android developer, I've made use of numerous APIs and libraries made available for use in applications. Out of all the APIs I've used, however, I have a largely love/hate relationship with the Google Maps API. Before I get jumped on, I don't hate the API itself and I know there are alternatives like OpenStreetMap. What I can't stand about the Google Maps API is the process of registering for an API key. Well, I used to hate it until I found out this simple little trick.

The process of applying for a Google Maps API key is easy enough to begin and documentation on the APIs Console is straightforward enough. The problem in the application process arises when you must input your application's SHA1 fingerprint. Now there are ways to tinker through Terminal/Command Prompt to find this fingerprint, but I'll show you an easy way to get to your SHA1 fingerprint for debugging/testing purposes.

In Eclipse, if you do not already have the Android SDK installed, go ahead and do that now. Otherwise, get to the preferences pane for Eclipse. On OS X, this is done by going to Eclipse in the menu bar and then clicking Preferences, as shown below.


From there, navigate to Android -> Build and you'll be greeted with the location to your debug keystore and its MD5 and SHA1 fingerprints. Now in the image, the fields appear blank, but that is because I erased my fields from the picture for security reasons. When you follow these steps, your MD5 and SHA1 fingerprints will be visible as a long string of numbers.

That's all there is to it! No lengthy Terminal/Command Prompt commands to type, no searching the internet for answers, it's all there in just a few clicks. Now, keep in mind, these fingerprints are for debugging purposes only. Google Maps will appear in your application in the emulator as well as if you deploy it directly to a device, but you cannot publish an application using a debug API key as it will not work. With that being said, this is an easy way to get familiar using Google Maps and the various APIs that it encompasses. Happy programming!