OS Maps App FAQ - Android

Download from Google Play for Android devices Download from Google Play for Android devices


What's new

The basics

Viewing maps


Map downloads with a paper map

Purchasing a subscription

Map downloads for subscribers

Other Features

Technical Questions

Look for:

OS Maps App for Android - what's new

Version 1.4 for Android

Added the ability to upgrade to a Premium user within the app.

Search for and follow routes created and shared by others inside the app. Use it to find new route ideas while out and about.

Night mode maps are now out of beta testing and are a Premium user feature, to match the iOS version.

Known issues

We are aware of these issues in the current release:

1. OS Maps can be slow on some devices, especially Samsung phones when using offline mapping

2. Some devices cause the maps to flicker when zooming in

3. Nothing happens when tying to redeem a paper map code, and when trying again a message saying “code burnt” is shown.
There is an intermittent issue for some users where the app times out when checking you paper map code, so that it appears not to work. In most cases, you can go to Menu > Maps > Paper maps and see that your map has been redeemed and is ready to download. If not, please contact Customer Services with the login email address, map number and the download code so they can investigate.

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The basics

What devices does OS Maps work on?

The OS Maps mobile app is available on Android devices using Android 4.4 (KitKat) and higher. There is also a version for iOS (Apple) devices, but it is not available on Microsoft devices or Amazon Kindle. You can also use the OS Maps desktop version, using the same username and password.

How do I register?

Just open the app and register with your details. This gives you access to features like saving a route and downloading maps you have purchased in the shops.

The app says my email is already in use?

It may be that you already used your email address to create an account with us or buy a product. Either create a new account by using a different email address (if you have one) or use the 'I've lost my password' link on the login page of the main website. If you still get problems logging in, please let us know.

Why does the app ask for email access permission?

The app can import and export routes as GPX files from your email. To allow this the app needs access to your emails. Disabling this will prevent you from creating routes from received GPX files. Please note that exporting GPX files is limited to subscribers only.


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Viewing maps

How do I switch between maps?

Use the 'layers' button in the bottom of the map screen to switch between the available map types.

Why is the 50k / 25k map blank?

These maps will only display if you are a subscriber, or have downloaded the map using a code from a paper map, and when you zoom in to an appropriate level. Zoom in further to see the map detail.

What’s the night map for?

It’s useful when out at night as the low brightness will not spoil your night vision. It also saves batter life as less power is used by the screen.

How do I move around the map?

To move around, swipe left - right and up - down. You can zoom in and out using two-finger pinch and zoom controls.

Use the 'Search for location' box at the top of your screen. As long as you're connected to the internet, we'll try to work out the name of the place you're trying to find as you type. Confirm the name of the location and we'll zoom straight to it.

If we can't find a match, we'll suggest the next best result. If there's nothing at all on our database, please check the spelling of your search.

The search uses your data connection. If you are offline search functionality will not be available.

How do I find map features, such as pubs or places to stay?

Map features will be introduced in a future release.


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How do I plot a route?

Tap on 'Plot a route' in the app's main menu. Or if you prefer, tap on the location marker that shows where you are now and we'll give you the option to plot a new route. We'll also ask you if you'd like to plot a route when you search for a new location.

Your first tap on the map tells us where you'd like to start. We'll identify that spot with a marker. Carry on tapping on the map to create other waypoints.

If you want to remove the point, use 'Undo' at the top of the screen.

Once you've completed your route, tap 'Save', and we'll identify the last waypoint as your destination with another marker. You can then name your route and make notes about it for future reference.

At the bottom of the screen, we'll also keep you updated about the elevation profile of your route.

How do I find my saved routes?

From the menu, when you are logged in, select 'My Routes'. All your previously saved routes will be listed.

Tap on a route name to view it on the map.

Can I see the routes created on the OS Maps browser version?

The latest release brings automatic 2-way synchronisation between the Android app the the desktop version. When a data connection is available, all routes you have created on the desktop version will synchronise to your mobile device and will then appear in your routes library, even when you are offline. Similarly, routes created on your mobile device using either the record function or the route planning function will appear on the desktop version of OS Maps so you can review route details or print maps.

How do I record a route?

In the menu just choose the ‘Record a route’ function and click the ‘Record’ button to start. You can pause a recording for a time, or stop it altogether, then save the route to your routes library.

How do I export a route as a GPX file?

You need to be a subscriber to export a route as a GPX file. Find the route from your routes list, click Menu > Options > Export. This will generate the GPX file, and you will be able to send it to email, message or other destinations, depending on apps installed. If this fails to work the most common reasons is lack of permissions on the device. The OS Maps app needs access to 'Notifications' in order to be able to create the pop-up saying the route is exported and is able to send. 

How do I create a route from a GPX file?

You need to send the GPX file by email to an account you can open on the device. In your email, click on the attached GPX file and choose to open with OS Maps. The file will be imported and shown as a route. 

Can I show routes in miles not kilometres and vice versa?

Yes. Under  the main menu select 'Preferences' and then 'Units and measurements' and tell us which measurement you'd like to see.

We'll make the changes to height and distance together, so you can't mix miles with metres for example, or kilometres with feet.

The estimated time for my route was too fast or too slow!

We use a set speed plus Naismith's rule to work out roughly how long it will take to travel your walking or running route. In the future we are looking to add the ability to fine-tune this for your activity and pace by getting your peronal speeds from the desktop version.

How do I find routes that other people have created?

Click the 'map layers' button in the bottom right, and select the new 'Routes' option. You will see markers shown on the map in the currently viewed area. Click on a marker to see the route details.

To see more details and follow the route, drag up from the bottom of the screen. You will need to have a data connection to search for routes, but you can turn it off once you have started using the 'follow' function. 

Use the 'Close' button to close the route view and choose a different route.

Can I change the colour or transparency of my route on the map?

Not on this version of our mobile app, but it is planned for a future update.


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Map downloads with a paper map

Do all maps have a digital download?

All OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) series paper maps have a digital download included. Custom Made maps, OS Road, OS Tour and historical maps do not have downloads available.

You can identify the maps with mobile download by the blue ‘Includes mobile download’ badge on the cover.

Do I need specialist software or an app?

Yes, you'll need to install our OS Maps app. You can get this from Google Play; it's absolutely free and doesn't take long to download.

You can't download the maps available from the paper map to a computer. Please look at OS Maps online for an alternative. For OS maps on your GPS device please check with the device manufacturer.

How do I activate the code on my map?

You can redeem your code Menu > Redeem a map, or you can redeem the code on the website using the same account as used on the mobile device. Follow the instructions on the page to claim your download. In the app, check Menu > Maps > Paper map to see the list of maps available to download to the device.

Can I download the same map to more than one device?

Yes. You can download your map to multiple devices, as long as you log into OS Maps using the same account details, even switching between the Android and iOS versions. There is no need to use the map code again - it will appear in your list of available maps as long as you log in with the same details. You can delete and redownload your paper map as often as you need to. Our terms state that each map should only be on one device at a time.

Will my map update with any changes automatically?

No, the digital version you've downloaded will match the version of the paper map you bought.

How will I know if my map is out of date?

Check the OS shop website to see when we issued the latest version. It is listed under 'Specifications' on the product description.

What if my map code doesn't work?

Check that you enter the code correctly. The codes are all letters, and are printed all in upper case. If you receive the 'Code Burnt' message, the code has already been used - check Menu > Maps > Paper map to see if you already have it available to download. If your code still does not work please contact customer services.

What account details should I use in the OS Maps app?

The app uses the same login details as your OS Maps account or OS Shop account, and you will have access to additional features if you are a subscriber.

What if my map does not have a code?

Only maps with the 'Mobile Download' logo on the cover will have a code. Look for the silver scratch-off panel on the inside cover, and scratch this off to reveal your 12-letter code. If this is already scratched off it may already have been used - please return the map to the retailer for a new copy with an unused code.

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Purchasing a subscription

Why do I need to subscribe?

Subscribing gives you access to the OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) mapping and the ability to download any section of map for use offline. Your subscription also gives you access to the full features of OS Maps online, the desktop version, including more advanced route planning tools, national parks snap to path routing and larger prints.

How do I buy a subscription?

You can purchase a subscription in the app or through this website - see the subscription options here. To make a purchase in-app, select 'Go premium' from the menu and choose a subscription length. 

What happens if I buy a subscriptions through the app and the mapshop?

Your newly-purchased subscription will extend any existing subscription no matter where the subscription is purchased from. This means if you renew early you won't lose out.

What happens if I change phone while I have an active subscription?

If you have an OS Maps account, simply log in on your new phone and your subscription will be carried over, along with your routes and the rights to any paper map downloads (although you will need to download these and any downloaded maps or routes to your device memory). This will work even if you switch to an iOS (Apple) device or a newer Android device.

I have brought a subscription - why can't I see the routes i have created on web on my mobile? (or vice versa)

You may be using two different usernames (logins) for web and app. Wherever possible, please use the same email address to log in to each account as otherwise we will not be able to sync your routes. Try logging out and back in again, or contact customer services for help.

What happens to my content once my subscription expires?

You will receive a notification on your mobile and by email before your subscription expires. To ensure no effects, please renew before your current subscription expires. Any remaining time will be added to your new subscription.

If you choose not to renew your subscription, you will lose access to the subscriber-only features such as additional map types and GPX file exporting. Additionally, the following will happen:

  • Routes will still be available in the app and online, but only shown on standard mapping
  • Redeemed paper map downloads are retained and are still available
  • Saved offline maps are deleted


Map downloads for subscribers

How do I save maps for offline use?

Premium members of OS Maps can download mapping for any part of the country for offline use.

  • While you have a data connection (preferably Wi-Fi, as downloads can be large), scroll or search to find the area you are interested in.
  • You will download the current map layer. If you want to have additional map layers for the same area you will need to repeat the download with a different layer selected.
  • Click Menu > Download offline maps. You will have an opportunity to move the map area before clicking the ‘Download’ button to start the download.
  • Name the download and click save. It will show up in your downloaded maps list with this name and the map layer.

Click the back button to cancel the download mode.

What area is downloaded?

You will download the area visible on screen. You can download multiple sections to cover a larger area. If you turn off all data connections (or turn on flight mode) you can check that the complete area you need is covered.

How do I remove a downloaded map?

If you need to free space or no longer need a specific area, find your map in My Maps > Custom Offline maps then choose the ‘delete’ option.

Can I update a downloaded map?

To get the latest updates to an area you have already downloaded, find it in My Maps and click ‘Refresh’. You will need a data connection to do this.

Why have I lost my downloaded maps?

Downloaded maps are removed when you log out of the app, as we no longer know which users maps to show. Generally, you should not need to log out of the app except when switching between different users. However, it is still possible to lose your offline maps by:

  • Changing the downloaded files location using an external file manager. This will break the link from the app to the files and log your out. Delete the files you moved, log in to the app and download again.
  • Clearing OS Maps app cache or OS Maps data will remove any custom downloaded maps.
  • You may also lose maps if you update the app and the new version is not compatible with your existing downloads, but we try to avoid this. If you are planning to use the app offline we suggest you check your downloaded maps after running any updates.
  • You may lose downloads if you update your devices operating system

If you are planning on using maps where you will not have a data connection, please check the downloads are available after running any updates or making changes to the device.


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Other Features

How do I find my current location?

Use the ‘locate me’ button to jump directly to your location. This will use the GPS signal to locate your location as accurately as it can. If your device does not have a GPS chip, if GPS is disabled or there is no signal (such as in a building or near tall cliffs) this will not work.

How do I see what the map symbols mean?

Go to Menu > About > Map Legend and select the map scale. You will need a data connection to see the map legend.


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Technical Questions

What data does OS Maps app use?

Viewing maps, search, downloading maps and some other functions all require data, either Wi-Fi or over the phone network. Viewing a lot of map or downloading maps can use quite a lot of data, so if you have a limited data plan we recommend using Wi-Fi where possible. While offline you can see downloaded maps and use GPS functions.

Where are downloads stored?

Offline maps download to where your device automatically saves content. This may be internal storage even when you have and SD card installed.

Can I store maps on an SD card?

Security restrictions inside the Android operating system prevent most users from saving downloaded or saved maps on to an SD card. However, if your device has insufficient space there are two possible ways to resolve this.

1. Use an app. Some apps allow data that cannot normally be transferred to be moved to SD card storage. Success will depend on your exact device model and the app available, so test your offline maps at home as you may need to download your maps again or re-install the app if it does not work as expected.

2. Use an SD card as your devices internal memory. New with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and later, you can set your device to use an SD card instead of the internal memory. This is most useful where you have relatively small internal memory, and have purchased a larger capacity, high performance SD card. Not all devices are capable of this, as it depends on the manufacturer, but some general instructions are available on HowToGeek.


How does the app affect battery life?

Viewing maps uses the screen and mobile data (unless you are using offline maps), which will use the battery. Using GPS functions, including the locate me, route recording and route following features can also have a significant impact of battery life. We suggest turning these features off when you don’t need them.

The app will continue to run in the background when recording a route or following a route. As it's checking your GPS location and recording it every few seconds, this will use the battery more than when your phone is on standby. Stop recording or following routes when you are not actively using them to conserve battery power. 


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