Part Three: Unlocking Maps
Why do I need to unlock Garmin maps? Because not everybody is as honest as you and me.
Garmins original products, like the Metroguide
series (Canada, Europe, etc.), were not locked. That made it easy for anyone to copy them without paying Garmin.
These map products are very very expensive to produce. It's not just the map-making, which is a hugely difficult job to create them and update them. It's also all the searchable databases that are incorporated into each product, with all the city/town names, addresses and millions of points of interest. It takes a large amount of time and money to collect all that data, put it into the database, test it and then keep it all up to date.
So Garmin created a method of locking their newer map products (products like City Select
and City Navigator
This whole business is especially difficult to understand for those who have experience with other products like MS Streets&Trips or DeLorme Street Atlas that only run on your PC. Those products have the maps and the program software together as a bundle. One won't work without the other, so these issues aren't the same.
However, in the case of Garmin's products, they mostly sell handheld or mobile navigation devices that you may or may not need to add maps to (see also Part one: The Basics
). So they sell standalone map products that include a planning and map management program called MapSource
. And they sell navigation devices that may or may not include maps. You can pretty much mix and match any of their maps (Australia, Europe, North America, road maps, topo maps, water navigation charts) with any of their navigation devices.
When you buy a Garmin map product on CD or DVD, like City Navigator, or a navigation device that comes with one of Garmin's map products on CD or DVD, you also get a an unlock "coupon" that entitles you to an unlock code to unlock the maps. If you have internet access you can go online to Garmin's web site and use the coupon code to get the unlock code. You also need the serial number of the Garmin GPS device. The unlock code is a 25-digit code that is keyed to that device's serial number (it is actually generated when you enter the device serial number in the Unlock Wizard or online at Garmin's web site) and only unlocks the maps for use on that one specific Garmin device (and also by MapSource on your PC).
You can also use the Unlock Wizard in MapSource
to get the unlock code. This is generally easier than trying to navigate Garmin's web site if you are not familiar with it.
If you already own a Garmin navigation device and want to buy a different set of maps for it, you simply go through the same process to acquire an unlock code for the new maps to unlock them to your Garmin GPS device.
If you already have a set of Garmin's maps that are unlocked to one Garmin device and want to use them on another Garmin device without buying more maps, Garmin will sell you another unlock code for those maps. The new unlock code will be keyed to the serial number of the new Garmin device. You use the same process to acquire unlock codes for additional Garmin devices as you do for additional mapsets - either the MapSource Unlock Wizard or go directly online to Garmin's site.
So for example if you have, say, a Garmin Nuvi and a Garmin Colorado and Garmin City Navigator North America
and Garmin City Navigator Europe, t
o use both maps on both devices you would need a total of four unlock codes.
If you have older maps you may qualify for two unlock codes. Until recently it was Garmin's policy to provide unlock codes for two Garmin GPS devices with any map product. About a year ago they changed their policy so that you only get one unlock code and you must pay for any additional unlock codes. If you have older maps and buy a new Garmin device, try the MapSource Unlock Wizard and see if you can get an unlock code for the new device at no charge. The Unlock Wizard
The following only applies to the maps products you have on CD or DVD because you can use them in MapSource
. You cannot use the maps that come on memory cards, or preloaded in a navigation device, in MapSource
program contains an Unlock Wizard. It allows you to perform a number of functions. First, obviously, it helps you unlock your maps. You can use the Unlock Wizard to acquire an unlock code to unlock your Garmin map product for use on a Garmin navigation device. It will connect to Garmin's web site and get an unlock code, then it will unlock the maps for that specific device.
Once the maps are unlocked you can back up the unlock code(s) to your PC's disk drive or to your MyGarmin
account. I do both just to be safe. Once you have created backups of your unlock code(s) you can use the Unlock Wizard to list your unlock code(s) and which maps and devices they are for. Finally, you can use the Unlock Wizard to retrieve your unlock code(s) if you ever need to unlock those maps again, for instance, if you move to a new computer or have a crash and have to reinstall the maps.
If you bought, for example, a Nuvi that came with a City Navigator
DVD you can load the MapSource
program and the maps onto your PC from the DVD and use the MapSource
Unlock Wizard to unlock the maps and then create a backup of the unlock code. Then you can use MapSource
to load the maps (and routes and waypoints and tracks) onto your Nuvi.
If the Nuvi (or other Garmin navigation device) has City Navigator
preloaded in the device, the maps will be unlocked and ready to use. But they can't be copied onto the PC for trip planning, etc. on the PC. When go online to Garmin's web site to register your new navigation device with Garmin, you may qualify for a download of the MapSource
version of the maps that are loaded on your Garmin navigation device. You will automatically be offered this opportunity when you register the device. It is a good idea to do this because MapSource
is a very handy tool for viewing the maps on your PC and doing trip and route planning.
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