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CharlieG's guide to Custom POI’s with MapSource and POI Loader


by CharlieG / Garmin Nuvi 260

I use POI's since POI's can be categorized and Favorites can’t. MapSource is a challenge to get running unless it sees a qualifying product, but maybe another program would be similar, so these instructions might still be helpful.

Get the POI files in a .gpx format for MapSource to accept them. If they are in a .csv format, load them in a POI editor, like PoiEdit, and save them as a .gpx file. Every .gpx file loaded to the GPS will be a new category in the GPS.

To make new custom POI files, start by saving the locations to Favorites, by either saving them while driving by hitting the car icon, or going to the coordinates on the map in the GPS and then selecting save. Connect to the PC using the usb cable (I bought mine from Radio Shack, part no: 2600176). From MapSource select Transfer, then select Receive from Device. Favorites (not custom POI's) will show up under the Waypoints tab. Copy them to the clipboard, open an existing POI .gpx file and paste in the additions under Waypoints and “save as” the .gpx file you opened. For a new category keep the locations wanted under Waypoints and ‘save as’ a new .gpx file name. (All .gpx files need to be in one directory, since when you add any custom POI's to your GPS it wipes out all custom POI's previously loaded, so you simply add all back each time you make any changes to any of them).

Now Run POI Loader to load the custom POI's to the GPS (Don’t do Transfer, Send to Device from MapSource since it would place the locations as Favorites, not POI’s). POI Loader is free from Garmin: Put in the full path to the .gpx files folder. Choose “Install new custom POI's onto your device”. Choose Express mode, then Next and Finish. Then delete the temporary favorites that were saved on the GPS to transfer to MapSource.

To view the custom POI's go to “Where to”, then scroll down one and go to “Extras”. Then select “Custom POI's”. From there all the categories that matched the names of the .gpx files that were loaded will show up.

To add .bmp icons for map symbols to your custom POI's, see This will make all icons the same for the category. So if the .gpx file called restaurants contains 10 restaurants, all 10 will have, for instance, this icon:. To change a restaurant to have this symbol: instead, for instance, from MapSource open the restaurants.gpx file and select the burger restaurant under Waypoints, right click, go to Waypoint properties, and paste the location where the burger bitmap is stored on the PC at the bottom under: Links, File/URL:. There is no need to have it the same name as the .gpx file, since the file or location is being specified. Then, of course, ‘save as’ the .gpx file and reload all the .gpx files with POI Loader to your GPS.

For Proximity Alerts just use MapSource and keep POI Loader set to Express. (MapSource uses miles and POI Loader uses feet, so if feet are needed, and it is ok that all locations in the .gpx file will have the same amount of feet, the POI Loader could be used.) In MapSource, go to Waypoint properties for the individual location to change, and unselect “Unknown” next to “Proximity”. Add the amount of miles, or decimal point of 1 mile (MapSource will give an error message when you type a “.” in the field, but after typing a number after the period it saves it correctly. So for 528 feet, put it in as .1 mile, etc.). If same distance is wanted in all of the locations, just select all locations (Edit, Select all), then go to Waypoint(s) Properties and add the distance, and all the locations then will use that distance.

For speed alerts, if all the locations in the speed .gpx file will be the same speed, POI Loader would be better to use. Just change to Manual, hit Next to all the .gpx files that are not changing, and at the speed .gpx file, check “This file contains proximity alert points”, and enter the speed there. If they are different speeds, though, just highlight the individual locations in MapSource and then go to their Waypoint properties, and change the name to name@speed. So for the 20 mph school crossing in my neighborhood, it’s called Sinclair@20.

For sound alerts, custom sounds can not be used with the Nuvi 260. Only internal dings are heard when approaching proximity or speed alerts POI's. Only units that can play MP3's like the Nuvi 360 can use custom sounds.

I know a lot of this info is a repeat of info found dozens of places on the internet, including on POI Factory, but since hardly any of this is in the owners manual, I would have killed for this info all in one location when I started my 30 or so hours I've spent researching all this when I purchased my GPS.

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