Beginners Education 4 - Using POI Loader to Put POI Files on a Garmin GPS


Using POI Loader to Put POI Files on a Garmin GPS

STEP 1. Download and install the latest version of POI Loader from The POI Loader software lets your PC communicate with your GPS unit.

STEP 2. You will need to create a new Folder for your “Custom POI” files. For this tutorial, it is assumed that this Folder is “C:\MyPOIs”. To create this folder, open Windows Explorer and then left click on the “C:\” drive in the left pane. Then, move your cursor into the right pane and right click on a blank space. Select New > Folder and type in the name “MyPOIs” (without the quotes). Then, press enter to create this new folder.

STEP 3: If you do not yet have any POI files, download a few POI files from POI Factory into the MyPOIs folder created in Step 2. POI files for Garmins may be in either CSV or GPX format (that is, the three character extension following the name will be .csv or .gpx, respectively). Don’t go wild downloading right now; you can return for more files later.

STEP 4: Before doing any actual loading, open the folder containing the POI files. This will be the C:\MyPOIs folder created in Step 2 above. If you do not see extensions like .csv or .gpx, follow this procedure:
A. In the Menu bar of Windows Explorer, click on Tools > Folder Options… and then select the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.
B. Uncheck the box next to “Hide extensions for known file types.” Click the radio button to select “Show hidden files and folders”
C. Click Apply at the bottom of the dialog box
D. Click the selection bar near the top of the dialog box that says “Apply to all Folders.”
E. Click OK to accept your changes.
F. Verify that you now see the extensions (like .csv or .gpx) on EVERY file.

STEP 5. Connect your GPS to your computer using a USB cable. Wait for the GPS to show it is connected and ready to receive files (Black screen with an ICON at the bottom showing it is connected to the computer). Your computer should alert you that it has found a new removable device.

STEP 6. Run POI Loader using this procedure:
A. Start POI Loader
B. On the opening screen, click “Next >”
C. Under “Save Options”, Select “Garmin Device” as where you would like to save your Points of Interest. Click “Next>”.
D. On the “Select the device…” screen, your GPS will be shown in the box labeled “Device”. Press “Next>”.
E. On the next screen, choose “Install new custom POIs on your device and click “Next>”.
F. POI Loader will ask you to select the directory of the files to be loaded. Use the BROWSE button and select the FOLDER containing the POI files (in this exercise it is C:\MyPOIs.
G. In the “Choose a name for the newly created custom POI file:” box, enter some name meaningful to you. Note: the "name" that you enter IS NOT going to appear under Custom POIs; what will appear are the names of the POI files contained within the FOLDER. The name you are entering is to help you determine the name of the .gpi file POI Loader is about to create (in case you want to later manually delete this .gpi file) Also Note: If the FOLDER to which you point POI Loader contains at least 2 sub-folders then the names of those sub-folders will become "Categories" under Custom POIs. (also please read the note that follows step K)
H. Select the measurement units to be used by your GPS - either Feet and Miles per hour or Meters and Kilometers.
I. The POI Loader dialog suggests running the program in Express mode. For BASIC file loading, this is sufficient. NOTE: The only two alert sounds that will play automatically are for Red Light and Speed cameras. For other alert sounds to play, you must select MANUAL and set either a distance or speed alert trigger. The default alert sound is a BONG or DING. [*TIP*: If a file name contains ANY numbers, POI Loader will assume it is a speed alert and play any sound file for that POI automatically. If you have set a speed alert and are traveling faster than the alert speed, the alert will continue to sound until you are at or below the alert speed.]
J. Press “Next>”.
K. POI Loader will read and convert the POI files and load them to your GPS. If POI Loader encounters an error with a source file, it will tell you the name of the POI file containing an error. When finished, POI Loader will tell you the number of POI successfully loaded to your GPS.

NOTE: For those running any version of POI Loader below 2.6.0, be aware that every time you run POI Loader, it will not allow you to choose a name and creates a file called “poi,.gpi”, replacing any “poi.gpi” file on your GPS such that you will loose any previously loaded Custom POIs on your GPS not contained in your just chosen source Folder. Note that the built-in POIs on your GPS are not affected. For POI Loader versions below 2.6.0, remember that all files you want as Custom POIs have to be present in that source Folder every time you run POI Loader UNLESS you decide to rename the file POI Loader just created. This is actually a good idea, so follow this procedure:
A. Go to Windows Explorer and select the Drive called “Garmin Nuvi”
B. In the left pane, left double click on the Garmin folder and then left double click on the POI folder.
C. In the right pane, right click on the file “poi.gpi”.
D. Select Rename and give the file a new name BUT leave the .gpi extension alone. It is useful to have a name that includes the date these POIs were loaded, but any valid name meaningful to you is OK.

STEP 7. Disconnect your GPS using the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in the System Tray.

STEP 8. Power up the GPS and select WHERE TO > EXTRAS (for some GPS units, this is WHERE TO > MY LOCATIONS) and see if "Custom POIs" is displayed. Press "Custom POIs" and you should see a list of all the POIs loaded.

STEP 9. Turn on Alerts on your GPS unit by Tools > Settings > Proximity Points > Proximity Alerts.

STEP 10. Take a drive to a nearby POI.

Updated 03/16/2012 - POI Loader automatically loads to Program files so you can not specify location
Updated 04/27/2012 - POI Loader allows naming of the .gpi output file
Updated 06/30/2012 - improve wording for clarity

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Change History

  • jgermann - Sep 17, 2012
    9/17/2012 title change