Unofficial free map updates for Garmin Satnavs - OpenStreetMap


My brother had a Garmin Satnav (Nuvi 50) that was missing a lot of new and revised roads and asked if I could help update it. I already had the Garmin Express software for my Dad’s Satnav, so thought it would be a simple matter of plugging it in and running the update.

Up came a page saying a one-off update will cost €60 or I could buy lifetime maps for €90, the price of a new Satnav! :astonished:

Rather than throw the Satnav away (otherwise in good working order), I had a good search to see if it could be reprogrammed with a third party navigation software and came across OpenStreetMap for the Garmin. Unlike the proprietary Here maps that Garmin uses, OpenStreetMap is a community driven service and offers worldwide maps for free. In my rural area, it seems to have every street Here maps has, although the points of interest (shops, bars, etc.) vary between the two, particularly for newer businesses.

For those interested in installing OpenStreetMap (based on Windows OS):

  1. Download and install BaseCamp for Garmin (link).
  2. Go to OpenStreetMap for Garmin (link) and choose “Enable manual tile selection:”
  3. Select the regions you’re interested in. To choose a large area (e.g. All UK & Ireland), draw a square over the section.
  4. Enter your e-mail address and click ‘Build my map’.
  5. Allow an hour for the second e-mail to come in. The first e-mail will provide a link to show the build status.
  6. Open the link and download the executable file. This executable contains the maps, so will be quite large, e.g. ~600MB for UK & Ireland.
  7. Launch the executable. As each custom map has a unique executable, it will show a Windows 10 security warning. Choose ‘More info’ and ‘Allow’.
  8. Once the installation completes, connect your Satnav to the PC and launch BaseCamp.
  9. Go into the Maps menu and choose ‘OSM generic routable’.
  10. Allow one minute for the Satnav to fully boot into PC mode. Windows Explorer will show a drive letter for it when it’s ready.
  11. Go into the Maps menu and select ‘Install Maps’. This will take a few minutes to install.
  12. Disconnect the Satnav and let it boot into the main menu.
  13. On the Satnav, go into Tools, Maps, Info and it should show the OpenStreetMap option.
  14. Deselect the City Navigator map and go back to the main menu.

After completing the steps, it should now have the third party map working with all the missing and updated roads present. :sunglasses:


That’s brilliant Seán! What a great tip!

I’ve contributed to OpenStreetMap in the past and it’s a great resource.


Years ago I tried this on one of my Nuvi models. I posted in detail about it on the Garmin UseNet newsgroup but have been unable to retrieve that posting at this time.

Basically, here in the US, it was a mixed bag as I remember.

Roads had generic symbols instead of the coded identifiers that let you differentiate, for instance, a federal interstate from a state road from a local road.

It knew nothing of street addresses, making routing based upon saved favorites all but impossible.

And, of course, the point-of-interest database is missing; so you cannot find the nearest gas station or supermarket.

Perhaps OSM has matured since then.