Customizing Favorites Symbols in a Garmin Nuvi

shershingpois's picture

Some Garmin devices come with the ability to add custom symbols, but most do not. For the latter group, you are stuck with Garmin's available symbols whenever you want to tag your favorite locations.

For example, these 88 symbols are what you get with a Nuvi 265W:

Not a bad selection, but what if you have your favorite computer stores, pet shops, hi-fi stores and electronic parts stores? The only appropriate symbol for tagging them would be the generic yellow shopping bag symbol. And what about your favorite veterinarians or animal hospitals? You might use the symbol with the blue 'plus' on the white background, but then you might mistake it for a regular clinic.

Since most devices won't let you add symbols, you would then need to change one or more of the already-existing (reserved) symbols. I chose the nine symbols that I found least useful: the blue, green & red flags, pins and cubes.

My list of symbols now looks like this:

There are two main steps in doing this: 1) update the firmware file that contains these symbols (GUPDATE.GCD), and 2) flash the GPS with the updated firmware file.

Note that the instructions here are for Windows only, as most of the tools are not available for any other operating system.

Instructions are detailed so that PC ‘noobs’ will understand as well. In addition, I am using the method that worked for me, where I did not brick my GPS. But if anyone can suggest a shorter way that is still safe, then by all means please do so.

WARNING: Even though I did not brick my GPS, it is entirely within the realm of possibilities that you will brick your GPS by attempting this procedure. Proceed at your own risk!!!!


(a) Turn off your GPS, remove any SD card (to avoid confusion), and attach the GPS to your PC. The PC should pick up the GPS as a removable drive, which you will see under “My Computer” as “GARMIN (X:)” -- X being the next available letter for your new drive.

See example below:

(b) BACK UP the firmware file. This can't be said enough times. In your GARMIN drive there is a subfolder called “Garmin”. In it is the file “GUPDATE.GCD” (see below). Back up that file to a separate, long-term storage location where it won't get lost or overwritten.

(c) Gather all your replacement symbols. Note that they must be in .png file format, and should be 24 x 24 pixels or smaller. Also, they must be the same file size or smaller file size than the symbols you intend to replace. Typical size of a 'Favorites' symbol file is about 600 to 1000 bytes. TIP: best way to keep the file size small is to design the symbols from scratch, using whatever default application that comes with your operating system (ie MSPaint). These simple applications generally do not do 'layers', and can save your symbols directly in .png file format.

(d) Download and install SymbolExtractor. Latest version is available at:

Make sure to download version 133. This will install in whatever directory you run the install file, and the program will reside the directory “symbol_extractor”

(e) Place a copy of the GUPDATE.GCD file and your replacement symbol files in the “symbol_extractor” directory.

(f) Run SymbolExtractor.exe and open the GUPDATE.GCD file. You should see symbols loading.

(g) Scroll down the list and choose a symbol that you want to replace. Double-click on it and a window will come up showing you the symbol as it is currently. To replace it, click [Browse...]

(h) Open the replacement symbol you want to use.

(i) You will then see the current and new symbols. Click [OK]

(j) Note that if your replacement symbol is at a lower pixel resolution, then you will get a pop-up message warning you about this. But as long as the replacement symbol is smaller, then you can disregard this warning:

(k) To confirm the procedure was okay, move the cursor off the symbol you just changed, and move it back. You will now see your replacement symbol. Note that the name of the symbol (as given by Garmin) will not change. This one here is still called “BMP_SYM_BLUE_PIN”

(l) Repeat steps g-k, until you've finished making all your desired changes.

(m) Save the file. Note that you only have the option to save in .rgn file format. This is okay for now; save the file as GUPDATE.RGN.

(o) You now need to convert the GUPDATE.RGN to a .gcd file format. For this you will need to download and install a program called RGN_Tool which is available at:
Make sure to download version 078. This will also install in whatever directory you run the install file, and the program will reside the directory “rgn_tool”

(p) Place a copy of the newly-created GUPDATE.RGN file in the “rgn_tool” directory.

(q) Run RGN_Tool.exe, and open GUPDATE.RGN.

You should see something like this:

(r) For our purpose, all the information about the firmware file can be ignored. The only thing we want to do here is save the file in .gcd format, so click [File] → [Save to GCD], and save the file as GUPDATE.GCD.

You have now finished updating the firmware file.


(a) Put the GPS in Maintenance Mode.
– Disconnect your GPS from your PC, and restart the GPS.
– After the maps load and it goes to the menu screen, press and hold the battery icon for about 10 seconds.

You should then see something like this:

Note: other models may have a different way of getting into Maintenance Mode. If this does not work for you, then check instructions for your particular model.

(b) Connect the GPS to your PC; it will now install on the PC in 'usb mode'. Wait for this process for finish.

(c) You now need to download and unpack GARMINCURE3 & UPDATER, available at:

(d) Copy the newly-created GUPDATE.GCD file from the “rgn_tool” directory to wherever you just unpacked

(e) Run GarminCure3.exe.

You should see this:

(f) Click on the rectangle with 3 dots and open GUPDATE.GCD.

(g) Change radio button selection from 'CURE' to 'ORIGINAL', and click [Make firmware].

You will then see something like this:

(h) Click [Updater.exe] and you will get this screen:

(i) Change the radio button selection from 'Serial Port' to 'USB Device' and click [OK].

(j) You will then get a pop-up saying that your current software is the same as the update software. Click [Yes].

(k) The GPS will now get updated, and you should be seeing something like this:

(l) After this update is done, the GPS will restart and your PC will see it once again as a removable drive. You can now close GarminCure3.

(m) If you haven't already done so, backup that old/original GUPDATE.GCD file to a safe, separate, long-term storage location.

(n) Now, replace the old/original GUPDATE.GCD file in the X:\GARMIN directory with your new GUPDATE.GCD file. This step is not actually critical, but for the purpose of notation it's a good idea to have your firmware file match your actual firmware.

Your 'Favorites' symbols have now been updated.


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