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Garmin GPS

Tricks, Tips, Work Arounds, Hints, Secrets and Ideas

for the Garmin nüvi (nuvi) GPS (and others)

Lots Of Things You Didn't Know

[many ideas may also apply to various nüvi 200, 300, 500, 600, 700,
800, 2X5, 7X5, 8X5, 1200, 1300, 1400, 2200, 2300, 2400, 3700 series units,
the nüvi 1690, nüLink! 1695 & nüvi 5000
and possibly
other Garmin road GPSs.
A nüvi 650 was originally used for initial testing.
As of 12/12/08 a nüvi 755T is also being used for testing.
As of 01/27/11 a nüvi 3790LMT will be used for major testing
A smaller separate section for 7X5/8X5 devices has been established.
Other articles may be updated, where necessary, to include 7X5/8X5 instructions.]

-- a continuing helpful instructional and comment Blog --
[there are currently 34 pages containing well over 100 help articles in this project]

Presented by: Gary Hayman
[since October, 2007]




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-- This is the start of Page 5 --


General: Pg 1, Pg 2, Pg 3, Pg 4, Pg 5, Pg 6, Pg 7, Pg 8, Pg 9, Pg 10,
Pg 11
, Pg 12, Pg 13, Pg 14, Pg 15, Pg 16, Pg 17, Pg 18

Custom POI: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6,
Page 7, Page 8, Page 9

7/8X5 Page 1, 7/8X5 Page 2, 7/8X5 Page 3

Info Page
      TOC/Menu      The Newbie Page

- Novel Trip Information Display Aid

by contributing writer Mike Epstein, California

My nüvi 750 accepts pictures as direct downloads from my computer. Since pictures really mean images, you can build and download any image(s) as a picture and display it on your LCD.

  • Open a word processor – I use MS Word
  • Set the page size, font and font size – I use 14 point Antigua bold, page size 6.0” wide, 3.4” high, no margins. This will allow 14 lines per card.
  • Build the text to display
  • Copy the text file to an imagery editor – I use IRFanView which can be downloaded for free.
  • Save the image as a jpeg file using a pixel size that is the same as the nüvi device – for a nüvi 750 it’s 480 X 209 .
  • Load it into the Garmin device from your computer.

After viewing the image on the Garmin LCD, determine how to play around with the font type and size to get a viewable image that works for your eyes and application.

Editor's Notes: The Program IRFanView mentioned above can be obtained from

Most normal Graphics programs
WONT accept text files, so if you don't have the suggested file you might do one of the following:

  • Prepare your text first (you can even use NotePad), then use your built in Screen Capture capability (your Prt Scrn key {Print Screen}) to send the screen to the clipboard then later paste the resultant graphic into your Graphics program and make the necessary adjustments there before sending the cropped and sized .jpg of the text (converted to graphics) to your Garmin. Here is additional information: For XP, For Vista, For Mac OS-X, Nice Article.

  • Use a screen section snip program. I use the free Snippy (one of my most used and favorite programs). Some might use the commercial Snagit.

  • If you use Vista OS then there is a built in snipping tool. See Article here.

Author Mike Epstein uses the pixel dimensions of 480 x 209 for these JPGS. I use 480 x 212. I tested both and I can't see the difference. These dimensions are for the wide screen nüvi units. For non-wide screen units, I'm guessing (I can't test) that the dimensions would be around 320 x 180. Please note that these dimensions are different from the 'splash screen' size of your nüvi where the wide screen units are 480 x 272 and the non-wide screen units are 320 x 240 pixels.
Reason: When displaying JPGS with Picture Viewer there is a 60 pixel area at the bottom of the screen that is reserved for Garmin display information. Splash screens don't have that information bar, so therefore can be bigger.

Your JPGS can be loaded via your computer to
two places. To the device itself into the JPEG folder OR directly to your removable SD/SDHC card at root level; not into any folder.

Please don't be confused by the pixel dimension size that the author is suggesting. JPEGs of almost any size can be stored in your nüvi. However very large dimension sizes are wasteful and take up valuable storage. Your Picture Viewer will automatically take your JPEG and re-size it
KEEPING THE SAME ASPECT RATIO and display it on a screen area (for wide screen nüvis) of 480 x 212 pixels (less for non-wide screen.) If your original JPEG isn't that size, a black border on the sides will appear causing your resized photo to be thumbnailish (I made that word up.) What the author has done here is to cleverly utilize all of the available portion of the screen to display the graphic of the text, so it WONT be resized -- smaller. This make it easier to read. Kudos.

Added: August 20, 2008
From: GadgetGuy(bgateson2)

I read your new article about creating notecards. I'd like to point out that folks can also create .jpg notes using
Paint. Paint is included in XP and I believe Vista. Start/All Programs/Accessories/Paint.

Open Paint, select Image, then Attributes and change it to 480 x 212. Then select the Text icon and create a text box over the entire space and type your message in your font of choice. Save the finished product as a .jpg to the JPEG folder of your device or to your SD/SDHC card.

- A Simple Splash Screen For Lost/Stolen Nüvis

[Note: I am told that because of a the new design this technique doesn't work on the nüvi 880 model (no reports from other 8XX models) but that the technique DOES WORK VERY WELL on models from the other nüvi series - 2XX, 3XX, 6XX, 7XX.]

ATTENTION 7x5T series owners.You will use a slightly different setting and technique as far as image size. SEE:
7X5T SPLASH SCREEN SIZE - There Is A Difference in the 7X5 area. There I furnish you with a splash screen that will match your units.

Your nüvi may be misplaced, lost or stolen -- bummer! Some say that the chance of getting it back might be slim. GPSrs are popular target items for the snatch and grab thefts of opportunity.

I am sure, by now, that you have heard the warnings of not leaving your unit in a parked vehicle; hiding the device's support -- be it suction cup, bean bag (which I use) or vent hanger -- from obvious sight; and making sure your windscreen doesn't have telltale marks from removed suction cups.

You are also probably aware that you should record the serial number of your unit perhaps not only on a wallet information card but maybe in a text file in your Garmin folder. The number will be highly important for identification at a later time should your unit be located on the street, at a pawn shop, in a bad guy's cache, in a dumpster, or maybe on e-Bay or Craig's List.

Another line of defense is to use Garmin's LOCK setting. This will generally prevent others from activating your device when it is out of your hands. Please make sure that you 'set' your lock at a place
other than at your home. It is too easy for shady people who know about the lock to determine your address from papers in your car, including telephone numbers, and drive to your abode in the dead of night and unlock your unit. Make it tough on them by choosing a locking place that is not at your home, office, parking lot, parking garage or any place where you regularly park your vehicle. Make sure you chose a location that is not likely to be visited by a thief -- perhaps the entrance of the local police station, which they tend to avoid.

You may have important addresses stored in your GPS that you don't want anyone to know about.

Quick, erase that Favorite or Custom POI of (lon) -119.67081, (lat) 39.21858.

Some people recommend the commercial StuffBak to help in returns by Good Samaritans.


With your LOCK established it is a good idea to have a
Special Splash Screen show when your unit is turned on. This will alert the thief and potential buyer of your purloined unit that there will be difficulty with the unit. It may not help you get it back but at least you can "chortle in your joy" knowing that the thief may not make any money out of a potential sale -- 'cause the thing won't work. However, if a Good Samaritan is in possession of your unit it makes it easier for you to be contacted. I don't recommend using your name and phone number on the Splash Screen.

> Let's make a
simple Splash Screen using Microsoft Paint. (You can use other graphic programs (they may even be easier if you are accustomed to them) too to create the screen.

Part 1 (Composing and Saving Your Splash Screen)

  • Open Paint at Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint
  • Select File > New then Attributes (from the Image tab) and change the size to 480 x 272 for wide screen and 320 x 240 for non-wide screens (I'm guessing at the last number as I am unable to test) [See graphic for other settings]

  • Choose your background color -- perhaps yellow, or if you like Olympic Gold then try (253, 208, 23)/#FDD017 [use color tab] and Fill the area with the color
  • Switch your color to what ever text color you want and Activate Text mode, and choose your font,
  • Compose your Splash Screen message [See suggestion]

  • Save as a .jpg to your Garmin JPEG folder while connected to your computer via your USB cable. You can also save it to your SD/SDHC card if your prefer.

    [Quick Tip For Speed: Don't bother making your own Splash Screen from scratch. Right click my image above and select 'Copy'. Then paste it into your Graphics program. Erase the existing e-mail address with the gold color and replace the 'owner' address with your own (in a contrasting color to the gold.) Now save the .jpg as in the step above.]

    [Idea for fake 'tracking' note submitted by Larry Chisum 8/23/08]

Part 2 (Installing Splash Screen)
[Also see 760 note below]

Wrench > Display > Splash Screen/Change > Select view Images From Internal Storage (unless you stored your image on the SD/SDHC card) > Scroll and Select proper image > answer Yes to "Do you want to save this image as your splash screen" > Back (2)

Congratulations! "
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" You can now go stand at the top of the podium with your Olympic Gold Medal Splash Screen.

If you want to test it out, go to a busy corner in your town and place your unit on the sidewalk and walk away. If someone picks it up and you eventually get an e-mail message stating that they have it -- the process works.

[Some quotes from Lewis Carroll's famous poem "The Jabberwocky".]

[760 NOTE: Frank Tabor writes that the procedure for his 760 unit is slightly different (perhaps for the entire 7XX series). Once his prepared .jpg is loaded on his unit the steps for making it a splash screen is as follows - From the Main Menu: Wrench > Picture Viewer > Tap the picture; In the upper left corner is a check-box to Display at Power on? Touch that box > Back out.]

- Oh Where, Oh Where Did My nüvi Go?

You woke up this morning
And your nüvi was gone
You just bought your Garmin
Something must be wrong

(sung to the music of the Sopranos theme song)

Has this happened to you too? Your nüvi GPS is now suddenly listed by Garmin as being discontinued.

The growing list now includes the following nüvi models:
350, 360, 370, 600, 610, 650, 660, 670. Of course, that was 5 minutes ago and things might have changed since then. If you want to check it out yourself go to to see the discontinued list. Be aware that some have found that there may be a lag from when a unit leaves the Current Model List ( till when it appears on the Discontinued List.

Has the world come to an end for you? Not really.

Many of those discontinued models are still available from retailers, and, if their specifications meet your needs and the reduced prices are to your liking then, if you are a prospective buyer, they might be a good purchase. If you are already an owner you can still receive Garmin support and even firmware updates for some discontinued models; the 600 series is an example. Your nüvi won't stop working just because Garmin has discontinued it -- without telling you -- even if you bought it last week.

To be fair, the company is developing new models in order to install recent developments and keep competitive in the ever expanding GPS market -- as well it should. [There are approximately 60 manufacturers of GPS units that are available in the US.] The competition is pushing hard with its innovations and pricing. Actually, the best GPS would probably be a combination of features from many of the manufactures.

Garmin, itself, has recently released information about it's soon to be available
nüvi 2x5T and 7x5T series (265T, 265WT, 275T, 755T, 765T, 775T, 785T) which will have a variety of new features.

Many have criticized Garmin for having too many choices making it confusing and difficult for new prospective buyers to choose which model is 'right' for them and have suggested that Garmin just have 10 or so models making the choice easier for the buyer and the retailer who most probably can't stock all current models for their customers. Presently
[Oct 2009] there are 28 nüvi models and that doesn't count the 22 discontinued models that may still be available at the retail level -- many are.

I'm not sure that any model is 'right' for you. From my personal experience and the reports from others, once you purchase your first GPS, and no matter how good it is and how many bells and whistles it has, within a short time you develop an insatiable 'GPS envy'. I'm on my 5th GPS unit with my anticipating eyes on my next one.

[Some items on listing already exist and some are down the line]

GPS development will be exciting. New features and new ideas are being developed daily.

  • --Avoid pending accidents by recognizing and alerting for vehicle proximity
  • --Traffic light color recognition screen display and your unit can even alert you to stop car if about to unlawfully violate or are about to violate a red light
  • --Black Box type information technology for accident documentation
  • --Advanced Lane Guidance guides you to the proper lane of multi-lane roads or to proper turning lanes
  • --Real time map updates
  • --Driving habit learning modes
  • --Unit tracking technology for fleet use or stolen device location
  • --Heads up windshield display (HUD) -- just like the fighter pilots
  • --Posted road speed display and current traffic speed display of a distant point
  • --Road sign detail displayed
  • --Historical road data input for better trip planning and current guidance
  • --Suggested best route detours based upon current traffic speed
  • --Vehicle to vehicle speed information (unit to unit information trade)
  • --Building outlines and 3D building views
  • -- Integrated camera that displays real time video with navigation overlays
  • --Rolling Internet WiFi and cellular connection for 2-way information transfer
  • --Automatic pothole and obstacle instantaneous reporting (car to car)
  • --Preventing 'run off the road' accidents
  • --Automatic car steering
  • --Essential part of the Auto Matrix - "...The Auto Matrix is Cars talking to cars, talking to roads, talking to traffic control centers, The World Wide Vehicle Web...."
  • --Many more ...


So if your unit has been discontinued --
Don't Worry. Be Happy. Use it. It is still good and will do what you purchased it for. Then, wait (at least a week) until you are really ready to replace it with another GPS that you 'must have' and either give your old GPS away, trade it, or sell it. Spread your old GPSs around, like I have had to.

- A GPS Gift to a Young New Driver

Recently a father posted a message on a GPS forum of how he took advantage of a special promotion being offered by a credit card company of a FREE nüvi 200 with the opening of an account. He signed up with the express idea of giving the device to his sixteen year old daughter as a birthday present and as a celebration of her obtaining her drivers licence.

He was immediately pummeled with a plethora of critical postings which advised, in essence, that it is a very
BAD IDEA to give such an item to a young new driver, stating that the extra distraction that the unit might provide would be dangerous to that level of driving maturity.

They cited that there are already too many distractions for the driver, what with the driving itself; radio; CD or iPod music; cell phone use; texting; eating and drinking; and conversations with passengers.

One stated that "
...if you love your daughter and want to keep her alive, you would take back the GPS until she has proven she is a responsible driver and understands how distractions can kill and is ready to drive safely...."

Another echoed that another distraction is not needed and she should be concentrating on learning to drive.

I am in agreement. Here are three quick finds on the Internet which discuss teen accident rates. Sixteen year olds are at a very high risk rate.

National Teen Driving Statistics

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
  • 16 year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.
  • 16-year-olds are three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers.
  • 3,490 drivers age 15-20 died in car crashes in 2006, up slightly from 2005.
  • Drivers age 15-20 accounted for 12.9 percent of all the drivers involved in fatal crashes and 16 percent of all the drivers involved in police-reported crashes in 2006.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the economic impact of auto accidents involving 15-20 year old drivers is over $40 billion.
  • A recent report by AAA estimates the cost of crashes involving 15-17 year olds to be $34 billion.
  • Graduated drivers license programs appear to be making a difference. Fatal crashes involving 15- to 20-year olds in 2005 were down 6.5 percent from 7,979 in 1995, to the lowest level in ten years.
  • Fewer 16-year-olds are driving. In 2006 only 30 percent of 16-year-olds had their driver's licenses compared to 40% in 1998 according to the Federal Highway Administration.
  • According to a 2005 survey of 1,000 people ages 15 and 17, conducted by the Allstate Foundation
  • More than half (56 percent) of young drivers use cell phones while driving,
    • 69 percent said that they speed to keep up with traffic
    • 64 percent said they speed to go through a yellow light.
    • 47 percent said that passengers sometimes distract them.
    • Nearly half said they believed that most crashes involving teens result from drunk driving.
  • 31 percent of teen drivers killed in 2006 had been drinking, according to NHTSA. 25 percent had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
  • Statistics show that 16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger (IIHS).

Teenage Driver Facts:

Deaths. Each Year over 5,000 teens ages 16 to 20 Die due to Fatal injuries caused Car accidents. About 400,000 drivers age 16 to 20 will be seriously injured.

Risks. The risk of being involved in a car accident the highest for drivers aged 16- to 19-year-olds than it is for any other age group. For each mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are about four times more likely than other drivers to crash.

Stats. Teenagers are about 10 percent of the US Population but account for 12 percent all Fatal Car Crashes.

Costs. Drivers (both male and female) under age 24 account for 30% - $26 billion Dollars of the total costs of Car accidents in the US.

Sobering Stats

  • According to an analysis conducted for AAA, in 2006 drivers ages 15 to 17 were involved in approximately 974,000 crashes that injured 406,427 people and killed 2,541. Here are more sobering statistics:
  • According for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in the age group.
  • The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-to-19-year-olds than among any other age group, and per-miles-driven teens ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • Risk is highest at age 16, and the crash rate per miles driven is twice as high for 16 year olds as it is for 18 and 19 year olds, according to the IIHS.
  • IIHS statistics show that 16- and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.
  • According to, 1 in 3 teenage drivers has an accident in the first year of receiving a license, and a teenager is injured in a car crash every 55 seconds and killed every 6.5 minutes.

- Another Technique For Sending Google Locations To Your nüvi

August 2, 2010 -- Be advised that MapQuest has recently revised their programs and CURRENTLY they do not permit sending locations or routes directly to your nüvi. In the meantime, you can still use Google Maps and Bing Maps. Hopefully the technique will be re-instated in the future. See my article of explanation HERE.

When Google Maps changed their system earlier this year the Garmin user, who could formerly send coordinates straight from the Map to their Garmin device as a FAVORITE, using Google and the Garmin Communicator Plugin, became limited to only Google searches for businesses, addresses, locations and places of interest -- sending coordinates didn't [seem to] work anymore -- leaving one perplexed.

The technique was covered in previous article:

Even when using the new developer tools or mapplets discussed in:
NEW GOOGLE MAPS WAY OF GETTING LAT/LON COORDINATES - Developer Tools or Mapplets of Great Aid -- the coordinates appeared that they couldn't be directly sent.

This, as mentioned above, meant that if one wanted to send a Google Map location that Google didn't develop through the normal search to your FAVORITES via Garmin Communicator Plugin -- maybe you wanted to move the spot for some reason -- you couldn't do that directly (or so it seemed.) This was because Google would no longer present you with the necessary 'GPS' choice on it's menu when you attempted to do a 'Send.'

The longer Work Around was to obtain the coordinates from the map and enter them by hand into your nüvi and save the location as a FAVORITE. Not too difficult but there was a little typing involved.

Latitude and Longitude coordinates are highly useful when a 'normal' Google search identifies a point in 'the wrong place' or where one has to place the point in a different position than what was presented during a search. For example, instead of a building in a shopping mall one might really need the point where the driveway meets the road or perhaps a special entrance to a large park which Google doesn't identify as the 'entrance of choice.' Or, maybe, as in the below example, you wanted to identify a kayak launching platform that someone told you about in distant Columbus, Ohio. This point does not have an address nor is it located on a road.

There are many more reasons. All which would have to be done by hand ...

The Kevin White Work Around Method

Reader Kevin White of Lexington, KY wrote me and revealed his interesting and useful technique for sending Google Maps generated
coordinates directly through Garmin Communicator Plugin to his nüvi 200 device (it will work on other nüvis too.) His solution forces Google to present the missing 'GPS' choice and from then on everything works as normal.

Many thanks to Kevin. I have taken his technique and worked it into an example to give you an idea as how to accomplish it -- with pictures. At the end, there is a briefer explanation as a summary.

First we will assume that your nüvi is connected to your computer via the Garmin USB cable and that you are on-line with your computer. Also that you have Garmin Communicator Plugin installed and working. (
See earlier article)

1) Go to

2) Go to the 'area' of your spot either by a normal search or moving the map. [If the place is of a distance from where you are at you could do a search on a city to arrive at the general area.]

Let's say we did a normal search on '
Columbus, OH'

This map would appear.

3) Using the zoom capability and street and/or satellite views find the location that you want to identify. In most cases, it is
best to have the spot located on a road as your Garmin performs 'on-road' guidance directions better -- but it doesn't have to be.

We are going to choose a point at a river launching site to the West of the A flag. It will
not be on a road -- but because it is not on the road, in this case (not all cases), it will later cause a problem which we will solve with another technique -- good training for today, October 12, 2008, the real anniversary of Columbus Day (Juilian calendar)

4) Mark the location -- zoom in first for accuracy. An easy way of marking is to right click the map at the location and select 'Directions From Here'. This will cause a
new 'A' flag to appear. Hopefully you were very accurate as to where you placed your cursor before you 'right clicked.'

Zoomed in view

Notice, I'm right on the dock -- not on a road. That parking lot on the left as well as most of the complex is also not on a
Garmin identified road -- keep that thought in mind; till the end.

5) Now click the 'Send' link

6) Highlight the latitude/longitude coordinates that appear in the big message box and copy to your clipboard. Now press the Cancel button.

[NOTE: Although, in this case, the coordinates also appeared at the left hand side of your screen before the initial 'Send' was clicked, this will not always happen (a street name or 'unnamed road' could appear), therefore I am presenting a technique that will always work.]

Please note that the coordinates presented by Google are in the convention of latitude first then longitude. This is OK for hand entering coordinates into your nuvi but if later you plan to use Custom POIs you must use the convention longitude first then latitude when preparing them. But, when you use the above technique, having the 'Send' transfer the information to your nuvi's Favorites, they get automatically reversed.

7) Paste the latitude/longitude coordinates in the Google Search box and press 'Search Maps'.

8) When the map gets updated press 'Send'

This time your needed 'GPS' choice
will appear

9) Click 'GPS' for a new window

10) In this window, Change 'Name' if you desire, Choose Garmin from the pull down menu if not already presented, add Notes and Phone Number if you desire. Select 'Send' (from this new window)

[Please note that I am only making up this kayak launching location. I have no direct knowledge if you can launch a kayak from this point or not. I do not know if the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria ever docked here -- so don't ask.]

11) You will now be transported to the Garmin Communicator Plugin Page

12) Click 'Send to GPS' and the Columbus Kayak Launching will be saved as a Favorite to your nüvi device.


  • Go to Google Maps
  • Locate your selected point and right click it
  • Select 'Send' then copy latitude and longitude coordinates
  • Paste them in the normal 'Search Maps' box and activate
  • Select 'Send' again and this time your 'Send to GPS' choice will appear
  • Make necessary text changes and then 'Send' it, arrive at Garmin Communicator Plugin, and 'Send to GPS' from there.

You will have placed the location among your Favorites on your device.

BTW -- a Googolplex [note that the spelling is slightly different] is a very, very, very, very ... large number -- 10^[(10)^100] or 10 raised to the googol power; where a googol is the number 1 with 100 zeros after it.

Googleplex - the complex that houses Google's company Headquarters.


Remember, we chose a location that was not on a road. Well when your Garmin later tries to navigate to that point it will take you to the nearest road location that it knows and then draws a straight line to that point. Often, this will generally work for you as in the case of my fishing hole articles:

GONE FISHIN’ BY A SHADY WADY POOL - - Ye Ol’ Fishing Hole -- A Place You Know

GONE FISHIN' INSTEAD OF JUST A- WISHIN' - Ye New Fishin' Hole -- You've Never Been There

In this case, however, your Garmin will probably take you to a point on Dublin Rd. (US 33) that is on a road and close to your chosen point, and then draw a straight line to the launch site. Unfortunately, the straight line crosses the open water of the Scioto River -- across which, at that point, drive you cannot (I sound like Yoda. My ears are smaller.)

Perhaps it would be better to choose being on a road that leads to the complex where the launching platform is. This would be at the end of Rickenbacker Dr. (39.964802,-83.01839). So here, using a combination of Google Satellite AND Map views pays dividends when selecting your coordinates.

As we are now finished with this topic it is time to say "Goodbye, Columbus."


-Taking Your nüvi On A Sea Cruise



Once in the 'GPS Simulator' mode the technique of 'Set Loc' (Set Location) may vary slightly depending upon which nüvi you are using. On older models (Ex: 600 and 700 series and others) it is available at the bottom of the 'Touch and Drag' Map or on the Browse Map while on some newer models (Ex 3700 series and others) it is only available after you first move your vehicle and then touch the Edit icon (three parallel bars) in the upper left of the screen.

In addition, although you
can move your vehicle's location to any mapped area of the screen in older models (Ex: 600 and 700 series)[be it roads, fields, parks, deserts, mountains, oceans, etc.], with some newer models (Ex: 3700 series) the unit may not permit this and jump to the nearest road or do nothing at all.


I just returned from my 16th cruise. This time I was on the Carnival Conquest sailing out of Galveston, Texas for the destinations of Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. On this 7-day trip I brought my Garmin nüvi along.

I thought I'de share some observations and comments in case you are interested in taking your device on a future cruise.

BTW, it was on one of my earlier cruises that I first saw a GPS in operation many years ago. A fellow passenger enthralled me with his early personal GPS unit. I immediately purchased my first device, a Garmin GPS III+, upon returning home. I am now on my 5th GPS unit and looking at a 6th by the end of the year.


While sailing, there are no roads for your GPS to follow, so using the Tools settings for your device, change it to the Off-Road function. There will be times when you may want to also shift between the 'North Up' setting and the 'Track Up' settings -- 3D viewing is not necessary. You may find it difficult for your unit to access the satellites even though you are outside on your balcony and apparently have a clear access to an unlimited vista. You will find your unit can find the satellites much quicker when you are outside on the Lido (or similar) deck with a view of the entire sky.

Whatever you do,
don't hang your GPS over the balcony rail thinking that it will see more of the sky and acquire the satellites better. I'll bet you 2 to 1 you'll drop it into the sea when the ship hits that rogue Poseidon wave that is unseen by you as it approaches from the other side of the ship. Just thinking about doing that will automatically produce the perfect storm.

What's That Piece Of Land Out There? ----- Two days out from Galveston you notice some land way off in the distance on the port (left) side of the ship. What is it?

Well this is pretty easy. Turn on your nüvi. When the satellites are acquired just look at the map. You are passing the Northwestern most point of Cuba. [See all the cigar smoke rising?]

How Far Away Is It? ----- Just guessing I would say you are at least 13+ mi (~12 nm) [you should be beyond territorial waters of Cuba to avoid a Cuban gun boat incident] and nearer than ~19 mi (~16.5 nm) (if you are standing on deck 200 feet above sea level) which is the distance you can see to sea level items at the horizon [curvature of the earth and refraction roughly considered*]

You can find out
precisely using your GPS (for types compatible with techniques used in the nüvi 600 series.)

  • Activate your nüvi and after the satellites zeros in on your location...

  • Set your unit to 'Off Road' (no roads at sea)

[ Note: (March 2011) With some of the newer nüvis, the white arrow, that you will read about below, has been eliminated. On these models you simply touch the screen at the 'on the road' position that you want, and a description balloon will usually appear (but sometimes it wont). Once you have activated a balloon, if you desire to transport your vehicle to that spot, you press the Edit (3 bars, upper left corner of the screen) and select 'Set Location'. ]

  • Touch and drag the screen (you may have to adjust your zoom) till the small white arrow is on the distance point that you see from the ship. Press 'Go'.

Your mileage to that point will appear in the 'Turn in' mileage area (lower right corner of my nüvi 650). That mileage will also appear on the 'Trip Information Page' (touch 'Turn in' -- lower left) and also on the 'Turn List Page' (touch 'Turn in' -- lower right).

Reminder: your device should be set to Off Road.

You can find out precisely using your GPS (for types compatible with techniques used in the nüvi 7X5T series.)
Activate your nüvi and after the satellite

  • Activate your nüvi and after the satellites zeros in on your location...

  • Set your unit to 'Off Road' (no roads at sea)

    Tools > Settings > Navigation > 'Off Road' > OK > Go back to the map view

  • Touch and drag the screen (you may have to adjust your zoom) till you see the point that you view from the ship and tap the screen at that point. A small white arrow will appear

  • Press 'Go!'

  • Two techniques to now see the distance
    • (A) If already set, your 'Arrive in' window (lower screen to the right of Menu) will give you the mileage. If not set, then tap it and set it to 'Distance to Destination and press 'OK'
    • (B) Press the green bar at top of screen. The mileage will be included on the next screen

Reminder: your device should be set to Off Road.

How Far Is It Back To Your Embarkation Point? (Straight Line) -- If you have established your Embarkation port as a Favorite then just turn your unit on, let it acquire the satellites and set your 'Where to?' to your originating port. The distance will be reflected in the lower right corner of your nüvi Map screen plus the other places as mentioned above.

The distance will first be reflected on a slide-out window from under the 'Go!' button and, when Go is pressed in the 'Arrival In' window (if set for distance) or, after taping the green bar at the top of the screen.

How Far Is It To The Next Destination? (Straight Line) -- Establish your next destination port as a Favorite, let your unit acquire the satellites and set your 'Where to?' to your destination port. The distance will be reflected in the lower right corner of your nüvi screen plus the other places as mentioned above.

The distance will first be reflected on a slide-out window from under the 'Go!' button and, when Go is pressed in the 'Arrival In' window (if set for distance) or, after taping the green bar at the top of the screen.

On Shore; Finding The Ship -- Chances are, in most ports, you won't have to worry about this. If shopping, most of the stores are within eyesight of your ship. If you are at a distance you will probably return by tour bus/van or taxi anyway. If you have rented a car, motorcycle, scooter or moped you should make sure that before you leave home that you have the necessary maps of the area loaded in your GPS, (units vary) and that you have paid up your driving life insurance. On some islands, and in some ports, only major roads are indicated -- so be forewarned if you take your GPS on an Easy Rider trip.

Also, if you are going to take your unit ashore remember to save the
access to the dock as a Favorite point so that you can easily find it later. Seasoned cruise goers know that some ships are docked at sea and the passengers are tendered onto shore. So the access to the dock, not the ship, should be used as your Favorite point.


  • Don't look for the Captain to advise him of the course he should be taking according to YOUR GPS. He already has a GPS -- and his is bigger than yours.

  • Don't use your GPS to track your distance while exercising with your power walk on the outdoor exercise deck while the ship is moving at sea. I can guarantee you that the reflected distance will be WRONG -- but it WILL make you feel that you are getting great benefits from your walking exercise -- especially when you suddenly discover that you are walking at about 17-25 mph.

  • No matter what your GPS tells you, your real altitude will be pretty close to sea level. It's a given.

  • Don't use your GPS to determine what time you will arrive at your next port. It is much easier to look in the ship's daily newsletter which is delivered to your cabin. I'll bet that the time published there is pretty darn correct.

While you are on one of these giant cruise ships of 3000+ passengers and 1100+ crew --
you will get lost and you won't be able to use your GPS to find the dining room, the spa/gym, nor the infirmary.


(*)An easy 'general' formula for determining the visual distance to the horizon (correcting for refraction) is:

distance to horizon (miles) = sqrt [ 7 × h (feet) / 4 ]

Those with GPS models that have tracking and route planning can figure out their exact mileage by plotting multiple points and adding up the 'leg' distances -- However, it is so much easier for everyone to read the ship's daily newsletter delivered to your cabin where all that information is conveniently given to you each day.

1 nautical mile = 1.15077 miles = 1.85200 kilometers
1 mile = 0.868976242 nautical miles = 1.609344 kilometers
1 kilometer = 0.539956803 nautical miles = 0.621371192 miles

(HEAR: 30 sec snippet "Sea Cruise")

- Does The NFL Know?

Reader Kurt Wisner wrote,

I recently received a nuvi 205W, my first GPSr, and am exploring everything I can find. I found your "Tips, Tricks . . ." website via the POI Factory site.

THANK YOU for simply existing. I have learned so much in just a couple of visits. What a welcome resource!

I can't pay back much right now since I don't know much yet, but found a money-saver that you may wish to pass along regarding protection of your GPSr - if it's roughly the size of the 205W.

While looking for a protective case at our local Wal*Mart, we saw the normal cases made for GPSs and looked at cases made for external hard drives of similar size. There was roughly a $10 price difference. While I was flipping a coin, my wife strolled into the athletics section and found a set of (2) Rawlings forearm pads like kids would use for football, etc. They were on sale for $3. We bought a set, size Small, and my wife sewed the narrow (wrist) end closed. My 205W slides in and out with no problem, but the foam provides protection and a degree of insulation. I keep one in each car and put my GPSr into one when its not on the windshield.

Hope someone will find this helpful. Thanks again for your website.


[Photo not furnished. I dug the above from the Internet -- hoping it would be approximately correct.- gh]


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All written material and organization of material is copyright © 2007-2016 by Gary Hayman, All rights reserved.