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How do I step-by-step download GPS traces and points from a Garmin GPS?

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asked 30 Jan '14, 19:55

Firefishy's gravatar image

Firefishy ♦♦
accept rate: 29%


Common newbie question. Step-by-Step screenshots appreciated. Separate answer per platform (Linux / Windows / OSX)

(30 Jan '14, 19:58) Firefishy ♦♦

… if you think that the process is that different: What about separate questions then? Otherwise the upvoting of the "separate" answers does not really work. By the way: there will be dozens of possiblities. You should specify your compentences, use frequency (i.e. how much set-up time is okay for fast process later).

Well, in fact I think it could be best to just link one wiki page (if not existing somewhere already). ;-) There this quite hierachical structure may be easier to do.

(31 Jan '14, 15:37) aseerel4c26 ♦

ah, a tag... do you only want a download guide for gpsbabel using USB?

(31 Jan '14, 15:38) aseerel4c26 ♦

We have no step-by-step guides on how to use gpsbabel to download tracks+points over USB.

(31 Jan '14, 15:41) Firefishy ♦♦ is the closest we have but it isn't very clear on how to get the tracks + points off the Garmin GPS.

(31 Jan '14, 15:44) Firefishy ♦♦

well ("how to use gpsbabel"), then please make that also clear in the title.

(31 Jan '14, 23:54) aseerel4c26 ♦

oh, and: afaik newer garmin gpses behave differently. Do they only offer .fit or also .gpx on mass storage mode?

(01 Feb '14, 00:40) aseerel4c26 ♦
showing 5 of 7 show 2 more comments

Modern models of Garmin GPS simply mount like a hard drive, when connected to a computer. This works both for handheld GPS units, and car based GPS units:

  1. Prior to your trip, ensure your Garmin GPS is recording a track log (the exact procedures differ based on the model).
  2. Connect your GPS to a computer with a USB cable. The device should "mount" like an external hard drive.
  3. Visit the Garmin GPX folder or perhaps GPX/Archive. The files you want end in the ".gpx" extension, and contain track logs.
  4. You can upload traces to or better yet load them into the JOSM editor, . Please don't upload GPS traces directly into the map: instead using the air photos and existing data as a guide, trace over your GPS tracks and make adjustments. You can set the display color of your GPS trace to something wild, to make it distinct compared to the base map.

Upload Garmin GPS trace on Linux

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answered 10 Jul '14, 16:54

Bryce%20C%20Nesbitt's gravatar image

Bryce C Nesbitt
accept rate: 0%

edited 10 Jul '14, 17:00

A word of warning, old ones (such as the old yellow etrex ) without USB port may cost you a lot more for cables and adapters to connect it to a PC, it will also be less good at getting a location. Most newer Garmins (I have used Vista HCX (strong location),the Nuvi 1310T (ok) Oregon 450 (locates in seconds from cold in a new area) can all be connected via a USB They will then appear as another memory device. Look in the various folders for the GPX traces. I use Memory Map (paid for) to open the gpx file and trim off excess trace that is not needed, such as home location, stops and birds nests (the scribble in a trace recorded while stopped and or a poor signal area). Easygps will also download and draw a trace for you. GPSbabel is popular but I have not used it. Save the tidy trace with a meaningful name in the "ready to upload" folder. You can sign up and login and your first trace can be uploaded.

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answered 31 Jan '14, 09:59

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%


Hi, if you’re able to get the traces out of your GPS by cable or, stick or card and into your PC your problem is solved. With JOSM for instance as an editor in your pc, it starts automatically after clicking at the imported file. The editor even shows the mapped area as a download region. Select it and your ready to use you're tracks.

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answered 31 Jan '14, 21:45

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

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question asked: 30 Jan '14, 19:55

question was seen: 25,159 times

last updated: 10 Jul '14, 17:00

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum