How To Add a GPX File to Google Maps
The GPX format is a file type that contains map data including coordinates on the Global Positioning System (GPS). Sadly though, there’s no universal standard, and GPX is just one of the many map data formats. But GPX is an open standard, so an increasing number of manufacturers use it as a native format on their devices.
Google Maps uses the KML format for its map data, but they support many formats, including GPX. Google claims that they support all base map data, but certain formats will be easier to import than others. GPX is not one of those easy formats, so in this article, you’ll see how to convert a GPX file into a preferred format.
What’s the Deal with GPX?
GPS Exchange Format has been around since 2002, and many satnav devices use it to store their map data. Even satnav devices that don’t produce GPX files natively have options to import them. There’s no point doing an in-depth dissertation about this file format; think of it like JPG, an open standard that’s used almost universally.
Because it’s an open standard, GPX is very popular for creating maps that can be used on a wide array of platforms. If you ever want to share a GPS trail, try to convert your file to GPX. That will ensure that whoever is receiving it can view it on their device of choice.
If you want to get some good ideas about points of interest, try searching for GPX maps for various purposes. For instance, search Google for “gpx trail running routes.” The popularity of the format makes it a good choice for people who want to share good finds. Or, how about “gpx scenic road trip?” Get creative, you’ll be surprised at what you discover.
Importing GPX into Google
If you have a GPX file and you just want to pop it into Google Maps, the process isn’t too complicated. This isn’t an ideal scenario, because Google Maps will have to convert the file, but it will definitely work.
First, sign into My Maps, then follow the steps outlined below:
- Click on the button labeled Create a New Map in the top-left corner.
- Click on Add Layer in the menu to the left, and under the layer, click on import.
- You will be given the option to upload a file from your computer or simply drag and drop into the receiving area. Upload your GPX file and the map waypoints will be added automatically.
It’s that simple. However, this might not import all the data from the GPX file. If you want to make sure that the map features are imported, you should convert the map file into KML format first.
Converting a GPX File into KML
To make sure that all the data from your file gets properly uploaded into Google, first convert it into the preferred format, KML. You can convert GPX to KML using a variety of software, but the most convenient way is to use an online converter. GPS Visualizer is a very lightweight and free converter. All you have to do is upload your GPX file and then select Google Maps as the output format. In seconds, you’ll have a KML file available.
Once your file is converted, download it and follow the steps for uploading a file to Google Maps as detailed above. This extra step will ensure that nothing is lost in the upload to Google. Once your file is uploaded to Google Maps, you can share it and perform any actions that you normally would on Google Maps.
Behind Every Great Map Is a Great GPX
Viewing and using your GPX files on Google Maps is really not very complicated. Just upload the file to My Maps and the map features will self-populate. A great added benefit is that you can also export files in GPX format from My Maps. So if you want to send someone map data that their car’s satnav can read, use the GPX format.
How do you get your GPX files? Are you receiving them from someone or do you have a device that produces them? Is the format of the map file important to you, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.