Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Converting Google Maps to GPX: Alphabet Soup

It was entertaining -- for awhile. TG mumbles at laptop, hops up, goes to garage, comes back mumbling. Lather, rinse, repeat. He was trying -- unsuccessfully -- to create GPX files from Google Maps for the GPS on the Wing-a-bago. (Integrated on the bike and Garmin-based, by the way.)

But the dogs were getting annoyed at the back and forth to the garage. That's where we keep the dog food. After the first few trips, even the spastic caffeinated dog figured out it wasn't about her.

Sad story: You can't save directly from Google to a .gpx file for GPS devices.

Good news: You can easily convert a Google .kml file to a .gpx.

Here's how...

  1. Map a route in Google Maps (or go to a mapped route from a link some nice person has given you).
  2. Scroll to the end of the driving directions, click on "Save to My Maps" just below the destination point.

  3. Access the saved map by going to My Places, then Maps in the menu bar that appears above the red Create Map button.
  4. On the saved map, click on the blue KML link above the driving directions to download the .kml file to your computer.
  5. Go to and follow the directions to convert your .kml to a .gpx.
  6. Download the .gpx file and upload it to your GPS. (Hopefully it's a simple little sneakernet transfer -- put the file on an SD card and insert it into the GPS.)
  7. Do a little happy dance in the garage. (TG did -- the dogs confirmed it.)

The saved file includes any waypoints you've included. When you load it into your GPS, it will show up as the name of the ride and number or letter designations for each leg between waypoints instead of one giagantor loop.

This worked better in Firefox than Microsnot Exploder -- Exploder tended to want to open the .kml in a new browser tab instead of saving it as a file. I haven't tried this in Chrome yet.

Next question...


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