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Garmin MapSource For Free

Note: Garmin’s free BaseCamp software can now be used to view and install any mapsets, including non-Garmin ones; it’s not as good as MapSource, but it is free, and is also available for both PC and Mac. See this tutorial at the GPS File Depot for more info.

Most current Garmin GPS units come with a free version of MapSource, their software for uploading data/maps and downloading waypoints. tracks, routes, etc to and from Garmin GPS units. But if you’ve lost or misplaced your install disk, you’re out of luck; while Garmin has a downloadable updated version of MapSource on their website, it requires that you have the earlier version installed on your disk. Try and install it directly, and it will abort after telling you it can’t find a previous version.There’s a way around that “earlier version” limitation that lets those with a legitimate reason install MapSource on their computer. First, download and install a copy of Garmin’s free Training Center software, designed mainly for use with their fitness GPS units (ForeRunner and Edge). Once this software is installed, you can download and install the MapSource update file, and the full version of MapSource will be up and running on your computer (confirmed this on a system of my own).

Note: this will only have the MapSource base road data. If you have any additional map data you’ve purchased (like Topo, City Navigator, MetroGuide), you’ll need to re-install that from the original data disks. But since that process installs an original copy of MapSource on your computer, that makes the above irrelevant for you.

An alternate method is described here, but I haven’t tried it out myself.

What’s it good for? Well …

  • If you have a Garmin GPS, it’s good for uploading and download data, including maps if your Garmin unit supports them and you have the data
  • Open files in gdb, mps, gpx and loc formats
  • Create waypoints, routes and tracks; the track editor in particular is easy to use.
  • It comes with a world road basemap, and you can add maps from free sources like SmellyBiker, MetroWizzz or the Garmin Maps site, or even make your own
  • Save point, route or track data in gdb, mps, gpx, tab-delimited text and DXF formats
  • Export waypoint, route and track data directly to Google Earth

Hat tip to GS.

If you poke around this site, you’ll find other useful free GPS software that does some of what MapSource does, plus many things that MapSource doesn’t. Take a look in particular at postings in the categories for Garmin, GPS and GPX.

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27 Responses to “Garmin MapSource For Free”

  1. 1 nouie

    how can i download top maps to my gps?enhanced maps i mean, like google earth maps with update feature?

  2. 2 Leszek Pawlowicz

    For topo maps in a Garmin unit, Garmin sells the Topo 2008 product, roughly the equivalent of a USGS 100K topo map; there are also 24K maps for selected National Parks as well. The new Garmin Colorado 400t GPSr comes with the 100K topos built in. But if you’re talking about the equivalent of paper USGS topos, or satellite photos like those from Google Earth, you can’t currently display them on any Garmin unit.

  3. 3 Paul

    Useful thanks, but I have another issue with Garmin. The MapSource software is apparently set up so that it installs in the language that the computer is using, EVEN THOUGH all the language files are included in the disk/update. There is no option to select install language. This grieves me and other English speaking geocachers here in Portugal, where we are forced to buy Portuguese version Windows XP computers or pay 110 Euros extra to change to English version. Cam anyone advise how to get all mapsource and city navigator installs to run in a selected language despite the computer XP version being in a different language. Of course, even when you achieve it running in English, every time you do an online update, you are told “Incorrect language .dll file. Please reinstall Mapsource”
    Garmin (Europe) have told me there is no workround for this, although I don’t believe that!

  4. 4 freecitizen


    I’ve got a nuvi 200W and I did like said but neither Training Center nor MapSource can detect my GPS device. What did I or didn’t do?


  5. 5 Leszek Pawlowicz

    Sorry, but without a nuvi 200W in hand, I can’t tell why you’re having problems getting MapSource to recognize it.

  6. 6 Alireza

    please help me how can I convert shape files (.shp)to garmin .img file.
    metod and softwares?

  7. 7 john

    the alternative method did not work for me. tried that first before I found this page.

  8. 8 babuds

    I am from India and purchased Garmin Nuvi 200W. The base (world) map in the device is terribly sketchy and covers only major roads in India, compared to the PCbasemap in the mapsource program. I downloaded an OSM based img map of India and loaded on to the SD card. When I click ‘where to”, it always uses the device basemap to simulate the route, though it shows the detailed map on the SD card the device routing does not follow its roads. Is there a work around to make the device follow the detailed map while making a route. I tried menu such as “shorter distance”. Whatever I do it is of no use. I got frustrated to the point to throw it out of the car window.

  9. 9 Leszek Pawlowicz

    The routing information for Garmin maps needs to be created and embedded in the .img file in order for the GPS unit to be able to do routing. The OSM maps do not have this information intrinsically, and you can’t add it to a .img file based on them after the fact. It is possible to add that data, but it requires the original data and special software.

    MapCenter has at least one Garmin road map of India that supposedly contains routing information:

  10. 10 dimis

    thanks e lot

  11. 11 krishnan

    hi! i have got a RINO GPS 130. Please tell me a mapsource software (Free Version) which i can install.My basic requirement is to track the other GPS in same channel and squelch in my computer moniter.I would be grateful ti you.


  12. 12 animetric

    Thank you so much for this. We bought a refurbished Garmin Nuvi 255 and it did not come with Mapsource.

  13. 13 Mike Schulze

    If anyone else has the issue of MapSource picking a language that is not desired. There are a few hacks:

    If you want English, just delete all the other language DLLs in the MapSource installation directory and it will fall back to the language in the *.exe which is English.

    If you’d like a different language than English, like say you have a Dutch windows version and would like to run it in Russian: rename MapSourceNLD.dll to MapSourceRUS.dll.

  14. 14 arleneteng

    thanks for the tip! can’t find my mapsource cd in the jungle that is my office table. this is a lifesaver!

  15. 15 wahyupeta

    i do need this software in order to convert ground check point into shapefile.

  16. 16 bob

    I have been using Mapsource for a couple of years and I tried to update the software and when trying to open mapsource I get a NTDBdata needs reloaded error. I have tried to reload the training center software and also the mapsource update and neither worked. How do I correct this problem?

  17. 17 Leszek Pawlowicz

    Haven’t seen this error, so I don’t have an answer for you. Sorry.

  18. 18 Jose

    If I try to install maps with mapsource it give me a error that is family_1095 what can I do

  19. 19 Leszek Pawlowicz

    Haven’t seen this error before, and without access to your system, it is impossible to diagnose. Sorry.

  20. 20 Robert Daugherty

    I just bought a Garmin nuvi 250 from a pawn shop. Great little toy, but unfortunately, it did not come with the software cd. Any ideas on how I can get this cd? I did see a way to go around this by downloading the fitness software and then get the nuvi software.
    My problem is that I live in the stix and have dial-up. Since both of these files are huge, you can see my dilemma.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

  21. 21 Leszek Pawlowicz

    You could buy an old Garmin map product off eBay – it will come with MapSource. But I don’t know enough about the nuvi to say that you will find MapSource of any use with it.

  22. 22 Ron

    Thanks. It works great with my nuvi 255w. The nuvi 255w doesn’t come with a usb cord, so garmin thought to not install it by default for some reason.

  23. 23 sam


  24. 24 Howard Trussler

    I have tried several times to down load charts/maps but they all fail to open with Garmin’s newest MapSource. This is version Every attempt produces an error file notice that says “this is not a Garmin file” Any ideas or do I need to wait for a new conversion program to be built ? H. Trussler

  25. 25 Leszek Pawlowicz

    What format are the maps in?

  26. 26 Howard T.

    All the charts/maps have been in .img files which I understand is the format used by Garmin.

  27. 27 Leszek Pawlowicz

    .img is the map format, but you can’t open that directly in MapSource. Do a search on this blog for MapSet Toolkit, a program which installs .img files so that you can open and view them in MapSource, and then send them to your GPS. There are other programs described on this blog, like SendMap, which will send the .img file directly to your Garmin.

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