For many enthusiasts, sharing information between portable GPS navigation devices is part of the fun of ownership. Hikers can share their favorite trails or motorists can provide their in-laws with the most scenic route to a shared vacation spot. Transferring your personal data also speeds the transition when you buy a new GPS and begin to personalize it. There are several ways to transfer information. It's easiest between two models of the same brand, but third-party tools can transfer information between brands as well.
Using Garmin's BaseCamp
Bring both GPS devices and their supplied USB cables to your computer. Connect the first GPS, the one containing the data you want to share. Run BaseCamp if it doesn't open automatically.
Locate your GPS in the panel at the left of your screen. If the GPS contains an SD memory card, it will show as a sub-folder under the GPS itself. Click the icon for the GPS or its card, whichever one contains the information you're interested in sharing. The data will appear in the pane at the left.
Select the route or other data you wish to transfer. To select multiple items, hold down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard as you click, then release it when you're done.
Click "Edit," then "Send To..." A box will pop up, prompting you to select a destination for your data. Choose one of the list folders from your Library and click "OK" to transfer the data. Once you're finished, right-click on the GPS and choose "Eject" to safely remove it.
Attach the second GPS to your computer and wait a few seconds until BaseCamp recognizes it. Click the folder in your Library that contains the data you need to share, then click "Edit" and "Send To..." Select your second GPS or its SD card from the list of possible destinations, then click "OK" to transfer the data.
Using Windows 8 File Explorer
Connect the first GPS to your computer using the supplied USB cable. Open File Explorer, click "File" and then "New Folder." Create a new folder with a meaningful name, such as "GPS File Transfer."
Click on the icon for your GPS device or, if applicable, its installed SD card. Right-click on the file you want to transfer and select "Copy." Next, right-click on the new folder you'd created to hold the data and choose "Paste." The file will copy to that folder.
Remove the first GPS by right-clicking on its icon and choosing "Eject" from the popup menu, then disconnecting it from the computer. Attach a second GPS unit of the same brand, using its supplied USB cable.
Open the new folder and right-click on the file from your first GPS. Choose "Copy" from the popup menu. Next, right-click on the icon for your GPS or its SD card. Choose "Paste" from the popup menu to transfer the file.
Eject the second GPS and unplug it from the computer.
Using GPS Babel
Download and install GPS Babel (see Resources), to import and export data between GPS devices from different manufacturers and their respective filetypes. The program will run automatically once installation completes, showing a simple interface divided into an upper Input section and a lower Output section.
Pull down the Input section's "Format" menu and choose the type of file you're converting. For example, if you're taking a route file from a Garmin device, choose "GPX/XML."
Connect the first GPS to the computer, using its supplied USB cable. Click the "File Name" button on GPS Babel's Input section and browse for the file you want. Select it and then click "Open."
Pull down the "Format" menu in the lower Output section of the screen and select the format used by your second GPS. For example, if you're transferring the file to a TomTom, choose that company's OV2 format.
Connect the second GPS device using its supplied USB cable. Click the "File Name" button in the Output section and use the pop-up box to select either the new GPS or its SD card as your destination.
Change the extension at the end of the filename to match the new filetype, which in this example would be OV2. Alternatively, give the file a completely new name ending with the OV2 extension. Click "Save."
- Garmin's BaseCamp software will transfer data between two Garmin devices. TomTom's HOME and MyTomTom programs offer similar functionality with compatible TomTom devices, and other manufacturers such as Magellan have their own comparable programs.
- GPS devices vary in the features they support, even between models from the same manufacturer and the same series. This means your second GPS might not be able to access or use all the data from your first GPS, even when you've done everything right. However, basic data such as routes and waypoints will usually transfer without difficulty.
- The file transfer instructions given here assume a Windows 8 computer using a keyboard and mouse. If you're using a different operating system or a touchscreen device, follow the normal file-transfer procedures for your OS and device.
- GPS Babel is a powerful program with many options, beyond the basic file conversion described here. However its interface is primitive and can be confusing. Some websites, such as GPS Visualizer, provide a simpler online interface but use GPS Babel "under the hood" to perform conversions. There are also other third-party programs, such as EasyGPS, that perform similar conversions.
- It's always prudent to back up your GPS data before performing any copy or transfer. That way, if anything goes wrong, you can restore your data and start over.
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