How to Erase Installed Maps on a Garmin Nuvi
By Dan Ketchum
Updated September 29, 2017
Nowadays, when we think "GPS" we think "smartphone," but millions of drivers worldwide still rely on Garmin's expansive line of GPS devices – after all, the company sold 100 million products between 1989 and 2012 alone. Among that hundred mil, the Nuvi served as Garmin's iconic workhorse, but when it comes to storage – even on high-end models like the $250 Nuvi 2559LMT – your maps are at the mercy of limited onboard memory or your own optional SD card (sold separately, of course). Luckily, if you've still got a Nuvi, you've still got options – with a USB cable and a computer, your Nuvi offers a few ways to free up space for updates or for all-new map regions before you set out on your next GPS-assisted adventure.
From Your Nuvi
Most Nuvi models – such as those in series 30 through 60 – include a USB cable out of the box. To get started with file and map data management, plug the small end of the cable into the respective port on your Garmin, and the larger end into the USB port on your PC or Mac. Your device will show up onscreen as a removable drive on Windows' My Computer, or as a mounted volume on your Mac.
Open that drive or volume to take a look at the data stored on your GPS, including map data. Select the map in question and press the "Delete" key – or, on a Windows PC, right click and choose "Delete" from the menu – to erase the map from your device's internal storage. Before you bust out the figurative eraser, though, make sure that you know the purpose of the file you're deleting. For instance, .kml and .kmz files are custom maps, .loc files are GPS locations, .gpx files are GPS Exchange Format items and .gbd files are parts of the Garmin GPS Database. Keep your deletions limited to maps only, otherwise you might end up removing important system files.
When you're done cleaning house, select "Safely Remove Hardware" from the Windows system tray and choose your Nuvi from the menu or drag the volume icon into the trash on your Mac before unplugging the USB cable.
From Your Computer
If your Nuvi's maps are hogging space on your home computer, getting rid of them is a fairly straightforward process once you know the ropes.
On a Windows PC, press the Windows Key and "R" simultaneously to open the "Run" menu, then type "appwiz.cpl" into the blank field and click the "OK" button. This reveals any maps currently stored on your computer – just right-click the maps you want to remove and choose "Uninstall" to clear up some space.
For Mac users, open the Finder, then Applications and Garmin MapManager. Click on the map you wish to uninstall, then click the gear icon in the lower left corner and choose "Delete Map." When the pop-up window appears, click "Delete" again and say good-bye to the map in question.
More to Know
From car-specific models that cater to Fords, Volvos, Nissans and more to a whole spectrum of entry-level and tech-head-oriented products, Garmin offered more than 200 Nuvi models during the device's lifespan. As such, the specifics and quirks of your Nuvi's operation may vary from model to model.
Though the general process for map removal remains pretty consistent across models, it's always safest (and usually smoothest) to consult your owner's manual before setting out. If you've lost your Nuvi's paper manual in the black hole of the junk drawer, fear not – Garmin.com still hosts a massive database of digital manuals. From the home page, use the search function to enter your Nuvi's model number, then click on the device you want and choose "Manuals" under the "Related" section to download the full manual.
- Many installed map files are called "gmapsupp.img."
- If you could not find the "Map" folder and had to open the "Garmin" folder, this means you are using an older Nuvi model. Only delete the "gmapsupp.img" file to prevent deleting pre-loaded map data from the device.
- Do not delete the "gmapbmap.img" file. This is the file containing your preloaded maps.
Dan's tech experience includes work in the promotional and creative side of video gaming (with companies like 2K, Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive), as well as feature film post-production and graphic design. As a writer, he's contributed to Techwalla, Verizon, Samsung, Asus, Sharp, GeeksOn, Canon, Panasonic, Linksys and more.