Continuing Education: TourGuide Radius Alerts


Continuing Education: TourGuide Radius Alerts

When most people first attempt to create a TourGuide file, they seem to have problems. However, they are easy to create if one knows what the “gotchas” are and avoids them.

Garmin intended TourGuides to be special files created by third parties that would provide audio information about points of interest as one toured them. But, developers did not embrace and/or provide them.

GPS users soon learned that TourGuides could be used to create alerts for POIs that were not “along the route” (that is, they would not be within 30 meters/98.4 feet of the road on which they were traveling. By using TourGuide’s “radius alerts”, users could be alerted to upcoming locations at which they might want to consider stopping which might be fairly far off the road.

A Cracker Barrel restaurant comes to mind. They are usually some distance off freeways. Even though one can usually see their sign from the road, the actual location is more than 98 feet from the road. Thus, an “along the route” would not create an alert at all. Users wanted to know if there was some way that they could load their Cracker Barrel POI file such that they would be alerted to an upcoming Cracker Barrel in enough time to decide whether now would be a good time to stop and eat.

Consider being on a trip and being alerted if a Cracker Barrel is within two miles of your current location. Would that be enough time to decide if now was the time to take a break and get some good food? It probably would.

So below, this exercise will be assuming that we are creating a “radius” alert for Cracker Barrels. Substitute your own preference for Cracker Barrel.

If you read the Help file of POI Loader, it implies that you must do several things

  1. Have the character string “TourGuide” in the file names (note the Capital “T” and the capital “G”)
  2. Use .mp3 files
  3. Save the POI file as a .gpx

Often, when someone first learning about Custom POI files reads these requirements, they immediately quit trying after reading that.mp3 files are required for the audio. However, POI Loader help is wrong. It is possible to use .wav files.

Further, it is possible to use a .csv file.

However, you MUST have the character string “TourGuide” somewhere(does not matter where) in the names of the files (.csv/.gpx, .mp3/.wav, and .bmp) AND the names of the files must be identical except for the extensions. For example,


Cracker Barrel TourGuide.csv
Cracker Barrel TourGuide.mp3

As mentioned above, one can have either a .mp3 file or a .wav file. All Garmin units CAN use a .wav file in place of a .mp3 file. However, since newer Garmin units do not have .mp3 players, those units must use .wav files.

To make sure that the names are identical, what I do is, in Windows Explorer, highlight the .csv file, press F2 to get into “rename mode”, highlight the name of the .csv file (without the extension), press CNTL-C to copy the name, press ESC to get out of “rename mode”, highlight the .mp3 file, press F2 to get into “rename mode”, drag the cursor to highlight whatever name precedes the .mp3 extension, use CNTL-V to replace the old .mp3 name and press Enter to save it.

You must have your computer set to display “extensions” for files. See to make sure you computer setting are correct.

Actually, you must create a SET of files in the folder to which you will point POI Loader – a .csv file and an audio file (.mp3 or .wav). You can, if you want, include an “Icon” file, but most users conclude that the icons are not really useful at most zoom levels.

Take any POI .csv file for which you want to have a “radius” alert and add the character string “TourGuide” somewhere in the title. Then, rename the audio file to be exactly the same as the .csv file (except, of course, that the audio file will end in .mp3 or .wav)

Attach your GPS to your computer and run POI Loader .
On Screen 1, click “Next”
On Screen 2, click “Garmin Device”
On Screen 3, select your Garmin Device and click “Next”
On Screen 4, click “Next”
On Screen 5,
* Point POI Loader to the folder in which your set of TourGuide files reside
* Choose “Manual” mode so that you can set the “radius” for your alerts.
* Click “Next”
On Screen 6, when POI Loader comes to your TourGuide file,
* Check the “This file contains proximity alert points” box
* Click the radio button that says “Alert when you get close to a point”
* Enter a distance – perhaps 10560 (for two miles)
* Click “Next”

Once POI Loader completes, your GPS will have a TourGuide file for Cracker Barrels. Regardless of the road on which you are traveling, whenever your GPS comes within two miles (“as the crow flies”) of a Cracker Barrel, you will get an alert oval and audio alert. The oval will indicate the name of the alerting Cracker Barrel, and the alert oval will persist until you drive out of the two mile radius from that Cracker Barrel.

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Change History

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

  • jgermann - Sep 15, 2012
    9/15/2012 - fix typo