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Garmin Maps - Part Three: Unlocking Maps
Ken in Regina
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, to 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.

The 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.

#### End Part Three ####
Ken in Regina
Major rewrite today.

...ken...
prof
map war is
Marvin Hlavac
Hi prof,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

I'm not sure everyone around here will understand your question or comment. Perhaps you could help us by elaborating on it a little bit more. :-)
prof
Garmin laptop versus & map search?
trekkin1
Ok, I get the whole idea of the purpose of the unlock etc.etc. I installed the trip & waypoint manager that came with device, however, when I click on the unlock wizard a pop-up says "Unable to start the Unlock Wizard. Please reinstall this program and try again." I have already removed and re-installed the software several times to try and solve the problem however this message will not go away (more importantly will not let me unlock the product).

Is there a way to unlock the maps from Garmin's site without using the wizard?

Furthermore, I have the eTrek venture HC model and am really interested in using this device for hiking. Which map program would you recommend buying for this device? (I have to say, up to this point this is about as clear as mud).
tcassidy
The Garmin unlock page is here:

https://my.garmin.com/mygarmin/marketing/unlock.htm

You will have to sign in or create an account.

Assuming you are in the US, The Garmin US Topo maps might be what you want for hiking.

http://www8.garmin.com/cartography/mapSource/topous.jsp

They appear to be compatible with your device.

Terry
TruthSayer
Part Three: Unlocking Maps

Why do I need to unlock Garmin maps?
Because Garmin are greedy ********. When I buy a map I should be able to use it in as many new devices as I chose to buy. For them to do otherwise is grossly amoral.

A pox on them and their money grabbing ways.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi TruthSayer,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

While many people may sympathize with your sentiment, the thing is that Garmin doesn't own the map data. Garmin only licenses the map data from Navteq, and the issue you have brought up is highly likely tied to the licensing limitation. :-(
Ken in Regina
... when I click on the unlock wizard a pop-up says "Unable to start the Unlock Wizard. Please reinstall this program and try again."
That sounds like a problem with Vista. You probably need help from Garmin's tech support.

Is there a way to unlock the maps from Garmin's site without using the wizard?
No. The link tcassidy gave you will allow you to get an unlock code. You still need the unlock wizard to apply the unlock code to the maps in MapSource. You can also call Garmin's toll-free number and get the unlock code but you can't apply it without the unlock wizard.

So your best bet is to call Garmin's toll-free number, get tech support to help you install MapSource correctly, then use the unlock wizard to get your unlock code and apply it.

Furthermore, I have the etrek venture HC model and am really interested in using this device for hiking. Which map program would you recommend buying for this device? (I have to say, up to this point this is about as clear as mud).
Can't answer that without knowing where you live. Do a google search for something like "Topo maps for Garmin" or "hiking maps for garmin" and see what comes up for the areas you are interested in. There are lots of free Garmin-compatible maps out there.

...ken...
MajorTom
Ok, I get the whole idea of the purpose of the unlock etc.etc. I installed the trip & waypoint manager that came with device, however, when I click on the unlock wizard a pop-up says "Unable to start the Unlock Wizard. Please reinstall this program and try again." I have already removed and re-installed the software several times to try and solve the problem however this message will not go away (more importantly will not let me unlock the product).
If you haven't solved your problem by now try clicking "run" in the windows startmenu and type "regedit". Go to the following folder: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE. Then delete the folder named Garmin and reinstall again. Worked for me.

I have another question BTW: I just bought a Garmin GPSMap 60CSx with a pre loaded map. I also got a backup of the map on a CD. However i can not transfer the map into MapSource.. neither from the GPS or from the CD. I just get a message that xxxxxmap.img is not a valid MapSource file..
An ideas what I'm doing wrong here?
tcassidy
Unfortunately, that is the compiled map for the device. It is not compatible in that form with MapSource.

See Part 2 of Ken's Post: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/752-garmin-maps-part-two-new-type-memory-map

Terry
DJEvergreen
Just like every other kind of software that locks their product with a key someone has already found a way to bypass it.

The only thing locking programs does is it just makes the crackers work a little harder at their job and doesn't prevent their product from getting stolen. The only way I see that happening is if they lowered their price. As well like TruthSayer said I can't see any reason to pay twice for a map program you already own. You should be able to use the map on however many devices you own.
MajorTom
OK.. Thanks for clearing that up. If i knew this i would have bought an uncompiled map. Strange way to make software.
tcassidy
Just like every other kind of software that locks their product with a key someone has already found a way to bypass it.

The only thing locking programs does is it just makes the crackers work a little harder at their job and doesn't prevent their product from getting stolen. The only way I see that happening is if they lowered their price. As well like TruthSayer said I can't see any reason to pay twice for a map program you already own. You should be able to use the map on however many devices you own.

That's a very simplistic attitude. Garmin and other software makers are in the business to make money; if they don't they go out of business. I am sure outfits such as NavTeq and TeleAtlas also play a part in the number of licenses allowed.

I liked the previous arrangement where the maps were locked to a GPS device. But with the plethora of excellent GPS receivers, Garmin has joined the others and locked the maps to the device. I am sorry Garmin only allows the software on only one device and expect that they will follow the direction of others and change that to two in the future.

Terry
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