Continuing Education: Uses for your GarminDevice.xml file


The "GarminDevice.xml" file is what various Garmin programs look for when determining if you have your device attached to your computer. I suspect that the programs look for a "removable" device that has a "Garmin" folder containing the "GarminDevice.xml" file.

Thus, you can make a removable drive (such as a USB flash drive or an SD card in a media reader slot) appear to be a Garmin Device.

One can find out a lot of useful information by inspecting the data in the "GarminDevice.xml" file. It contains the serial number, registration code, software version, unlock code, screen resolution, and the current voice used, to name a few.

You can verify that "Current.gpx" is described as "OutputFromUnit" - which is why other FAQs indicate that changes made by you to "Current.gpx" have no effect on the unit, but that files in the folder GPX with an extension of .gpx will be "inputToUnit".

This means that you might muck around with the data in this file without fear that you would mess up the device.

Also, this technique presents us with an opportunity to find out from WebUpdater what new updates are available for our devices without actually having the device attached to the computer. If you have, say, a flash drive with a
Garmin directory containing a "GarminDevice.xml" file attached to the computer and then runs WebUpdater, WebUpdater will find that device and assume it is a Garmin unit.

WebUpdater can be downloaded from

When installed and run, the first thing WebUpdater does is to see if there is a later version of itself. Note that WebUpdater does not need a browser to do its work.

XML isn't the easiest kind of file to deal with. I have looked at a number of packages and have settled on Firstobject XML Editor v2.4.2. This software is open source and "portable" - meaning it is run directly from a folder and does not need to be "installed". You can find this software at

Download the .zip file to a folder of your choice (I have a lot of portable apps, so mine is C:\PortableApps\FOXE XML Editor). Extract the contents of the .zip file (and then you can delete the .zip file) and run foxe.exe.

From the menu
File > Open and navigate to the flash drive, select GarminDevice.xml and press "Open". A dual pane dialog will appear. The major elements of the XML will be in the left pane and the actual XML will be in the right pane - initially all strung together. Do a Tools > Indent (or press F8) to get a formatted representation of the XML. At this point you might want to make notes of certain data about your unit.

Since I was working with the file from a removable drive, I changed the name of my unit so that I can recognize it when I have both my 2595 and this removable drive attached simultaneously. For example, I made my "description" read 2595SD because this "GarminDevice.xml" file happens to be on a SD card that is inserted in an attached printer's media reader slot (and shows up in Windows Explorer since I just leave the SD card in the slot all the time).

So, try to see what WebUpdater will tell you.

Without your unit attached to the computer - but with the removable drive, run WebUpdater. Webupdater (currently at 2.5.6) will first check to see if there is an update for itself and tell you such ("No updates were found for WebUpdater. Click Next to continue"). Clicking next will look for devices - in my case, it finds "nuvi 2595SD (unit ID xxxxxxxxxx)" [and if I had the actual 2595 attached, it should have found "nuvi 2595 (unit ID xxxxxxxxxx)"].

Clicking "Next" takes me to a screen where one of the two choices is "Proceed to check for additional updates such as voice updates". When I first did this - using only my SD card technique - I found that there was an available update to "Jill" which I use.

So, I made a note of this and later updated Jill on the real 2595.

Play around - maybe you will find something you want to update.

bwarden notes that


I've kept my GarminDevice.xml file, unmodified, on a flash drive for a while now. Another handy trick with that is being able to save points from Google Maps as GPX files.

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