Sunday, March 18, 2012

Converting Google Maps search results to GPS waypoints

A while back I was travelling quite a bit, and I wanted to figure out where I could find free wifi while on the road. So I went to Google Maps and clicked "Local Search." I entered wifi in the "what" field and a city name in the "where" field and, like magic, I had a map with lots of wifi hot spots. But now what? I had a GPS. There had to be a way to convert these search results to waypoints so my GPS could guide me there. I searched for a converter, and though I found a couple, I couldn’t get them to work. After a little sleuthing, I’ve discovered one that works, and the trick to get it to do so. Thanks to Josh of Communications From Elsewhere for this great tool.  Here are step-by-step instructions for you…

  1. Get the GMapToGPX converter and drag it to your browser’s bookmark toolbar. Now Josh says it works in Firefox and Internet Explorer (IE). There’s a bookmark toolbar in the Firefox, and it works fine there. I couldn’t get it working in IE though. UPDATE: In IE, just right-click on the GMapToGPX button on his site and select "Add to Favorites."
  2. Go to and enter a query. This is where I had problems. It works with but not with I have no idea why. Maybe a more tech-savvy reader can enlighten us. Regardless, you end up in Google Maps.
  3. Once the local search loads, click the GMapToGPX button on your toolbar. Or if you’re using IE, click the GMapToGPX Favorite. This opens an xml/gpx file.
  4. Copy this file to a text editor and save it with a .gpx extension (e.g., Saratoga wifi.gpx)
  5. Open this in your favorite GPX compatible mapping software and send it to your GPS. One caveat here. I could not open this in MapSource. I was successful in transferring it to TopoFusion, ExpertGPS and USAPhotoMaps. I was also able to transfer from those, into my GPS, and then into MapSource.
  6. Now, hit the road!

Hmm, I’ll be on the road again next weekend, so what do I want to do? Here’s an idea. Just imagine the possibilities…

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Huh! Searches on used to work. I see now, though, that they only work there for driving directions, not a bunch of points. I’ll see if I can update the bookmarklet to work with that.

  2. Thanks Josh. This is a great tool! I’ll be using it next weekend for sure.

  3. I’ve updated the bookmarklet code to handle searches on, too. I haven’t tested it in IE, but I know it works in Firefox. You shouldn’t need to do anything to get the new code; it should automatically use the latest version. I had to clear my browser cache to get the new version, though, so if you still can’t get a GPX file for search results, try that.

  4. The scripts do not seem to work with FireFox v2 at present.

  5. Jules,
    It seems to work for me. Can you describe what you’re seeing?

  6. Ron Gallant says:

    Works for me. I wonder what it would take to have it automatically prompt you to download a file already named?

  7. If you want to see it in MapSource, you can also convert the obtained file from the boorkmarklet once again to GPX with
    .. worked for me.

  8. Now you can do that! Google Maps and TomTom integrate local search and navigation. 😀

  9. Hi…try this new tool:
    Can send Google Maps search results directly to your Garmin or TomTom. Also you can download a GPX file. Thanks!

  10. Recently purchased Garmin Nuvi 255w. Wanted to know if I could purchase chip or download maps for marine/nautical utilization. Thanks.

  11. Recently purchased Garmin nuvi 255w for auto.
    Can this device be converted for marine/nautical usage by either download of map or use of chip?

  12. Rich Owings says:

    I think Garmin Bluechart maps will work, but you won’t have access to all features, and it may not display as much info…

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