How To Make Routes on a PC to a Garmin Nuvi

By Fred Decker

Creating new routes on a modern, fully-featured GPS device such as a Garmin Nuvi is straightforward. Most models have large, easy-to-use touch screens and icon-driven menu systems, and even a novice can use them. Making routes on your computer can be even easier and faster, with Garmin's own BaseCamp software or third-party programs. Your new routes can be transferred using an ordinary USB cable.


Aside from your Nuvi and a personal computer, you'll need a few other things. Your Garmin came with a USB cable, which you'll use to transfer data from the computer to the Nuvi. If you've lost it, you can pick up a replacement at any electronics retailer, such as RadioShack. Download Garmin's BaseCamp software from the company's website, and follow the prompts to install it on your computer. You might also wish to purchase detailed supplemental maps from Garmin or a third-party source. If you use an outside source, be sure they're compatible with BaseCamp or MapSource, Garmin's older map-management software.

Creating a Route

Creating a route in BaseCamp is fast and simple. If your starting point and destination are visible on the current map view, right-click them and choose "Create Waypoint" from the popup menu. Otherwise, use the program's search feature, and right-click locations in the search results. Drop down the "New" menu and click "Route." A dialog box pops up, prompting you to drag the start point and destination into the correct onscreen fields. BaseCamp creates and names the route. You can edit the route to change its name, if you wish.

Modifying your Route

Using the same right-click technique, you can add intermediate waypoints marking turns or landmarks along the way. As you click "Create Waypoint," each new location shows in the panel at the left of your screen. You can drag and drop them into your new route, which will also show on the left panel. Edit your route to place them in the right order. You can also change your route onscreen by clicking the pencil icon, and dragging the gray line to your preferred route. Changing your profile settings can also alter the device's route selections. Save the route.

Transferring your Route

To transfer the finished route to your Nuvi, connect it physically to your computer using the USB cable and power it on. It will take a few seconds for BaseCamp to recognize your device and connect to it. It will show in the upper section of the panel at the left of your screen. If you have an SD memory card installed, BaseCamp will show the device and memory card separately so you can decide where to send your data. To make the transfer, click your chosen route and drag it to the GPS or its SD card, then drop it.


Using your route requires only a few touches of the onscreen menus. From the main menu, tap the "Where To?" icon, and choose "Custom Routes." Choose the correct route from your list of available choices, and then touch "Go" to load it. You can also download routes created on other programs, such as Garmin's older MapSource software. MapSource updates are still available to users running a version of the software, though the full program can no longer be downloaded. Third-party programs such as Microsoft's Streets and Trips also create usable routes.