Sunday, March 18, 2012

Free maps for your Garmin GPS

Free_international_maps

Free user-generated U.S. and international maps

UPDATE: Here’s a step-by-step guide to putting routable OSM maps on your Garmin GPS.

This was originally intended as a follow up to my international maps for your Garmin GPS post. Yet those sticking closer to home should investigate this too — the sources below include road maps of U.S. cities and some very nice topo maps of greater detail than you can find elsewhere. The image below is from a 1:24,000 scale Lake Tahoe map.

Lake_tahoe_24k_map

Besides being free, these maps are often available for areas not covered by Garmin and other commercial providers. Unfortunately though, turn-by-turn routing is less likely to be found with these maps.

One other thing before we get to sources of these maps — they utilize the Garmin .img format, and will require some special techniques for loading them to your unit. More on that below.

Sources of free maps for your Garmin GPS

Here are the best places to start looking for these maps:

  • Map Center – Undoubtedly the most comprehensive source of user-generated maps for
    Garmin GPS receivers. The screen shots at the top of this post and below show maps of Sydney, Australia that I downloaded and transferred to my nuvi.
  • Free Garmin maps – Another comprehensive list.

Free_international_maps_2

Specifc areas:

Thanks to Free Geography Tools for several of the above sources.

OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is “a free editable map of the whole world.” They aren’t quite there yet, but they are making progress.

Tips for searching for free international maps

When searching for international maps, try using the country name + “.img” + “Garmin” + “maps”.

Loading user-generated maps using IMG2GPS

There are many ways to skin a cat and likewise, there are many ways
to load these custom maps to your Garmin GPS. This gets to be a
complicated subject and I will only go through one method here.

This technique allows you to upload multiple maps using IMG2GPS, so called because it transfers the Garmin-compatible .img map files to your GPS. Here are the steps I followed…

  1. If you have pre-installed maps on your GPS, make a copy to back
    them up. I have a nuvi 660 and I simply copied the nuvi’s “Garmin”
    folder to my hard drive. While I did not have any problems with this process
    replacing the pre-loaded maps in my nuvi, it is still a highly
    advised safety precaution.
  2. Using one of the sources above, download the .img map files you want to send to your GPS.
  3. Download and install IMG2GPS.
  4. Run IMG2GPS. I could not get a direct upload to work with my nuvi,
    so I used IMG2GPS to create a file and then copied that to the “Garmin”
    folder on my nuvi. To do this select “Folder/Card” and “Create File
    instead of Upload” as shown below. Then click “Load Folder” and
    select the .img map files you wish to transfer. Finally, click “Create
    File.” A window will briefly appear on your screen as IMG2GPS compiles
    a GMAPSUP.IMG file. You will be prompted for a destination
    directory for the file.

    Img2gps

  5. Copy the GMAPSUP.IMG file and the .img map files to your GPS (I sent mine to the “Garmin” directory on my nuvi).
  6. You should now be able to zoom in and see the detailed maps of areas you transferred to your device.

Finding other GPS data

If you’re just looking for waypoints and tracks, you might want to check out my GPS data search engine.

Related post:

About Rich Owings

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

Comments

  1. I highly recommend using MapSet Toolkit with Garmin .img files. It doesn’t upload the file, but lets you add it to MapSource as one of the upload options, so that you can choose it along with other mapsets, and upload it to your Garmin. I did a post on it not too long ago:
    http://freegeographytools.com/2007/adding-garmin-img-files-to-mapsource

  2. Thanks Leszek. Love your site. Keep up the great work!

  3. Ibrahim Colmenares says:

    Hi, I am trying to upload some .IMG file to my Garmin Mobile XP but I can not. I did alll hte IMG2GPS procedure but nothing, any idea that could help???
    Thanks,
    Ibrahim

  4. Ibrahim,
    I did a quick search and found a couple of references that might help…
    http://www.imserba.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113040
    http://uud.info/en/support/mobilext/

  5. Equipos de GPS y Rastreo Satelital – Argentina

  6. Hi,
    there’s another website which gathered basically all maps for Garmin GPS which are available for free on the Internet:
    http://www.mapsntrails.com/?q=en
    Greetings

  7. Thanks a million for this site! I am buying my first GPS device ever and this was a great help. Since I plan to use it extensively in a car and for hiking around South America and Africa, I will need to get some of these free maps.

    Does anyone by any chance know whether I will be able to use my Apple computer (a MacBook Pro) to put these free maps into MapSource for subsequent uploading to my Garmin device?

  8. Rich Owings says:

    Many of these maps come in a Mac version. I’m not sure how to install them if they don’t, but I bet the folks at http://forums.gpsfiledepot.com/ can help.

  9. Better take another look at OpenStreetMap.org!

    The OSM maps of Europe are some of the best available, especially in England and Germany.

    There are maps available of the whole world in Garmin format generated from the OpenStreetMap database. You pick what areas you want, then download an executable install of the maps for Mapsource. Check it out here: http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php

    YOU can also update the maps, so we will see continuous improvement in these maps. That also means that YOU can track your routes and update the map, then upload a new map with your changes few weeks later.

  10. Rich Owings says:

    I agree, they’ve made huge progress. Time to do another post!

  11. Hi there
    I need syria and lebanon detail map for my garmin 60 cx series.and also how can i use this map.I only use map source on my gps but it is not accurated.

    Thanks

  12. Rich Owings says:

    http://downloads.cloudmade.com/asia#breadcrumbs

    http://mapcenter2.cgpsmapper.com/catalogue.php

    I’m not sure what you mean about using MapSource and it not being accurate.

  13. isac ionut says:

    hy guys….can anyone tell me haw to upload the maps on my garmin nuvi..i need europe map….tks

  14. Rich Owings says:

    This process will work with OSM maps from http://downloads.cloudmade.com/:

    How do I transfer the .img file to my Garmin GPS?
    This is easiest where your GPS unit can be put into “USB mass storage” mode, or where you are using a removable micro-SD card. In both cases the .img file needs to be renamed to ‘gmapsupp.img’ and put in the ‘Garmin’ subfolder.
    If you can’t access the GPS memory like this, then sendMap can be downloaded from cGPSmapper and can transfer .img files over both serial and usb connections.

    The Garmin maps look a bit funny. Why?
    The .img files from downloads.cloudmade.com are our “OpenStreetMap Error Edition”. These are intended to help OSM volunteers when they are out mapping, and so highlight roads that are missing names and other features that may be of interest only to mappers. If you’re not helping out with OSM then it may look a little confusing!

    (from http://www.cloudmade.com/faq#downloads )

  15. Jean-Pierre Laviolette says:

    I am looking for the map of the Philippines to put in my garmin i know that there are some but i dont know where to find them

    Tank you

  16. Richard says:

    Hai, i’m looking for the china map,but i can’t find it.can you sunggest me some website to find it.thank you

  17. i m looking for united arab emirates updated map

  18. Hi Rich,
    I loaded Australia map.zip then I extra the file gmapsupp.img , it promote not extr error, wat should I do? I yet plug USB into my garmin.

  19. Dear Rich,

    Noway i can open gmapsupp.img. I try http://www.gpsoz.com.au/tracks4australia/getting_started.htm save the map to the garmin folder but i need MAPSOURCE, idon’t have such product.

    What solution you have.Thks

  20. richard says:

    hi
    i’m looking for a detailed streetmap of montevideo,uruguay but can’t find one. any help?

  21. richard says:

    thnx alot Rich. now something else. i’ve got a map of southern africa, south america and uruguay in more detail and i want all of then in my garmin at the same time but thats not possible because they all have the same name(gmapsupp.img) and i can only have one at a time. any ideas with that?

    • It depends on your unit. Some newer Garmins allow you to go in and rename the file to something like uruguay.img. Then you can load another and rename it southafrica.img. Otherwise, you’ll need to transfer them all at once though MapSource.

  22. John VanLeeuwen says:

    I am going to Kenya with my Garmin 255. I dont really need to see roads, I just need to use the lat long and elevation function in the “Where am I” tool. Can anyone tell me if this “Where am I” tool works in Kenya without purchasing the Worldmap CD from Garmin? Or does it need the Worldmap to give these parameters? Thanks.

    • It should work, but try this…

      Hold down the satellite strength icon in the top left corner of the main menu. In about 5 seconds, I think it will switch to the satellite screen, giving you lat/long and elevation. Most nuvi series do this.

  23. Hi Rich,

    I got the australia map in my GPS.I am able to get my location in the GPS But when i press the “points of interest” ICON in the GPS, it just don’t stallite any.

    Isit cos i got the wrong map? I need a city navigator map?

    My download map is from http://www.gpsoz.com.au/tracks4australia/getting_started.htm

  24. Hi, if somebody look for free maps of dominican republic and haiti, you can find them in my website http://www.la-hispaniola.com you only need to register in the forum for free.
    regards

  25. hi,

    i just got this nuvi 260 and i want to get maps of the philippines. where do i get them and how to install them.

    thanks

  26. I just purchased a Nuvi 1490T. My wife would like to plan a detailed route then upload to the unit. I have some GPS software for my handheld Lowrance — can I create a route on that then upload to the Garmin — I’m thinking turn by turn isn’t going to work… but just learning.

    What is the easiest and best way to create and upload a detailed (off the normal autogenerated route) from one point to another… i.e. if you know that one road is always under construction or busy and you want to route around.

    Thanks

  27. No, you can’t create a route using the Lowrance software. I believe you can do this with MapQuest.com, but the best way would be with Garmin software. First thing I would do is go to http://garmin.com/numaps and see if you’re eligible for a free map update. This must be done within 60 days of first use. You’ll be downloading all of North America, so set aside a few hours. In the past, this would put City Navigator on your computer. I’ve heard there is a new option and you must check advanced and then uncheck something like “install maps only on my GPS.” Then you can use the route tool in City Navigator to create and transfer routes. Beware though, that it may route slightly differently in the field than on the PC. Feel free to follow up with more questions.

    You can always just create a route on the unit itself BTW.

  28. Can anyone advice me on the best Handheld GPS to use for Car Tracking?

  29. Muhammad says:

    I like this site. Straightforward, good information.
    I have owned a gpsmap60csx and over time have acquired maps om mSD. Am wondering whether those maps will be usable on nuvi 255w for auto routing. 60csx does the job albeit lack of screen real estate.
    Thank you

  30. Hi, I’m looking for Morocco GPS map for Garmin Nuvi 1100.

    can anyone help me to find it.

    Thank you in advance

  31. Muhammad says:

    Thank you Rich
    They do autoroute on the 60csx, kinda, without voice, voice is function of unit.
    On this knowledge only will I buy a 255w.
    I don’t know whether these maps are unlocked to a single unit.
    Don’t want to pay twice for same maps, once for 60csx and again for 255w.
    Are these free maps this site refers to, can be loaded onto multiple units.

    • Yes, they can be loaded to multiple units. What are the maps that you want to use? I don’t know of any free maps that are locked, unless someone is trying to get around copy protection.

  32. Muhammad says:

    North American, Middle East and a South East Asia. All Garmin.
    Haven’t looked elsewhere.
    Will be happy if these work on 255w.
    Tigerdirect has refurb for 100$, most uptodate maps.

  33. If they are Garmin maps they are locked to a single unit and cannot be used on another without buying a new unlock code.

  34. Is there a site where I can download Philippine maps for my Magellan Maestro 4700?

  35. Not that I know of. There are plenty of maps for Garmin units, but they are much more limited for Magellan.

  36. I have a Garmin 1300 and I need to upload a free canada map.. please help

  37. I need to find a free download for my Garmin GPSmap 60 so it will talk to my computer. Got any suggestions?

  38. Does it use USB? is this what you are looking for?…

    http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=591

  39. how do i upgrade my garmin for free???

  40. i need 2 know if is there a way or a website so i can upload new maps on my
    garmin gps.

    • Assuming you have a car unit, no, you can’t update the maps for free. Unless you’ve had it for less than 60 days. Otherwise, search online stores for “numaps” and you’ll probably find some deals.

  41. hi rich, i bouth garmin 1300T hw can i download the map of the philippines?

  42. hi rich,

    i just want to know, how will I transfer my .img file map to my garmin 1300T. is there any application for transferring the file?

  43. Here’s a map of the Philippines: http://www.roadguide.ph/

    You can transfer it with MapSource: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/tutorials/how-to-load-maps-on-my-garmin-gps-unit/

  44. hi rich,

    hw about the us map? and how can i trnsfer the img file to mapsource?

  45. Hi

    Please could i have a link to free download of southern africa garmin maps.

  46. I have a Garmin nuvi205 that ocasionally does not keep up with the turns that have been made. Is this a devise, map, satalite or other problem. I don’t know if this is a fluke, if I need a new map, or a new GPS. Any suggestions?

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