OS Maps quick start guide
1. Getting startedOS Shop account.
If you don't have an account, create one for free or upgrade to Premium for all features. Your Premium account applies to both web and app versions, unlocking all features of both.
There's no need to log out between uses.
You can still use basic maps without signing in, but will not be able to save routes.
2. Finding a location
There's different ways navigate around the map:
- Click the ‘Find me’ button to find your current location. This requires GPS / Location Services to be enabled. A small red dot or arrow indicates your current location.
(Does this show the wrong location in the web version? Read this for more information).
- Search using the search box in the top for a town, village, postcode or Grid Ref. In the app, this will only work while you have a data connection.
- Move around the map using your mouse or touchscreen.
To zoom use the mouse scroll wheel, pinch to zoom or the zoom bar on the right of the screen.
3. Changing map type
Switch maps with the layer selector button - in the app tap the layer selector then 'maps':
- Standard: a zoomable map that shows everything from country overview to street map, ideal for finding locations and planning on-road activities.
- OS Leisure Maps: Zoom in through our leisure maps including 1:250 000 scale OS Road, 1:50 000 scale OS Landranger and 1:25 000 OS Explorer mapping. The best scale for the zoom level is chosen automatically and shown in the zoom control on the right.
In the app, select 1:50k or 1:25k manually. (Premium users only).
- Aerial satellite: high resolution, zoomable aerial imagery. Great for seeing more detail of the terrain and vegetation, or just to find your house.
- National Park pathways / Offroad Routing: the standard map plus highlighting all paths, tracks, bridleways and roads in National Parks, enabling automatic snap to path route planning (Premium users only).
- Greenspace: the Standard map with all the greenspaces available for outdoor recreation highlighted. Click the 'Help' button in the top right for a key to the colours used.
- Aerial 3D: View stunning 3D terrain, with or without your route line. Perfect for showing off how steep that track was! (Premium users and only available in the web version).
4. Aerial 3D maps
Aerial 3D mapping is available in the web version for Premium users. Select it from the map layers list.
Go to any location using the search box, view a route or switch between map and Aerial 3D views while planning a route to check your progress.
Use the controls (1) to adjust the view. You can adjust the height, view direction and zoom.
Click the 'full screen' button (2) to hide all menus and most controls for the best view. Hit escape and 'full screen' again to return to normal.
5. Printing routes and maps
Click the print button on the toolbar (1) to print your map, with or without a route.
You will print the current map type. Choose a fixed scale, or fit the current route to screen if possible. The area to be printed is shown in the overview (2).
Other print options include A4 or A3 size, landscape / portrait and a route card. Once ready, hit the print button (3).
Some print features, such as A3 printing, are Premium only. There are no printing functions in the app.
6. Using maps offline
Use the OS Maps app to download sections of map for use offline.
In the app select Menu > My Offline Maps and click 'Add a custom offline map (Menu > Download offline maps on Android).
Find the area you want to download. Click 'Download' (1) to save the area on screen plus about the same in each direction and name it. You can download as many sections as needed.
Click 'Cancel' (2) once you are finished.
If you want to be sure you have all the mapping you need before you lose connection, try turning on 'flight mode' and test.
7. Finding routes
Find great new places by searching our routes list, created by both professionals and other OS Maps users.
In web, select Routes > Discover routes. In the app select Layers then tap the Routes button (1).
Each pin shows a route start point. Move the map to search the area shown, and use the filters (2) to find a route matching your needs.
Click a route pin to show the route details. In the app, swipe up to download the route for offline use - these appear under My Routes > Downloaded Routes
To stop searching and hide the route pins close the left panel (web) or click the Routes button (app).
8. Planning routes
Ready to create your own route?
- Select Routes > Create Custom Route or Menu >Plot a Route in the app (1,2) to start planning a route.
- Click on the map to create a start point, then create your route by adding more points.
- Inside National Parks you can use the snap to path feature (3) on the 'National Park Pathways' or 'Leisure' layer (web) to make route planning faster and easier.
- When creating a route you can change the route line colour, thickness and transparency using the style button
- ‘My Routes’ shows all your previously saved routes to review or print.
- Saved routes are automatically synchronised between browser and app versions
- ‘Import GPX’ allows you to import a GPX route file from your GPS device or other source.
9. Following a route
In the app, you can follow a planned route.
Select a route you have created or discovered in 'My Routes' and click ''Follow Route'.
The arrow (1) will show your current position. You can turn the compass on and off (iOS) using the compass icon.
10. Record a route
You can record a route to save for later or to share with friends.
Go to Menu > Record a route and select an activity type. Press the Record button to start recording.
When finished press 'Stop' to save the route. Give it a name and it will be saved to your routes list, and syncronised with the web version.
11. Options and personal settings
You can personalise OS Maps to suit your needs.
Click your name in the top right (1) then Preferences (2) to open the panel (3) and switch from imperial to metric measurements, adjust your average walking, running and cycling speeds for more accurate estimated times and set the defaults for your personalised mapping and route planning.
The time estimates for walking and running will automatically allow for ascents using Naismith's Rule.
12. Find out more
Use the ☰ symbol(menu) then ‘Information’ in the browser version to find the FAQ and more information on OS Maps. In the app version use ‘Menu’ then ‘Help’ to access the FAQ.
Watch the OS Maps user guide videos