OS Maps quick start guide
1. Logging in
You will be limited to basic features until you log in, and for the app version we recommend you do not log out between uses to ensure you do not lose any offline maps or routes.
2. Finding a location
You've got a choice of ways to navigate around the map:
- Click the ‘Find me’ button in the bottom right to find your current location (does this show the wrong location? Read this for more information).
- Search using the search box in the top left for a town, village, postcode or Grid Ref. In the app, this will only work while you have a data connection.
- Scroll with your mouse or using the touchscreen.
To zoom in and out using your mouse scroll wheel, pinch to zoom or use the zoom controls on the right of the screen.
3. Changing map style
Switch maps with the layer selector button in the bottom right:
- Standard: a zoomable map that shows everything from country overview to street map, ideal for finding locations and planning on-road activities.
- Aerial: high resolution, zoomable aerial imagery. Great for seeing more detail of the terrain and vegetation, or just to find your house.
- National Park Pathways: 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: Standard map with all the greenspaces available for outdoor recreation. Click the 'Help' button in the top right for a key to the colours used.
- Standard + OS Leisure Maps: once you zoom in far enough this map will automatically switch to our classic 1:50 000 scale OS Landranger or 1:25 000 OS Explorer style mapping. Ideal for walking, off-road cycling and any outdoor activity (Premium users only).
- Aerial 3D: View stunning 3D terrain, with or without your route line (Premium users only).
4. Finding and planning routes
Use ‘Routes’ at the top of the screen to find a route or plan a new one.
- ‘Discover Routes’ shows pins marking the start points of routes created by other OS Maps users. In the app, use the 'Routes' button to turn route pins on and off. Click a route pin to view the route details or show it on the map. In the browser version, you can also see all the routes in the local area listed on the left panel.
- ‘Create Custom Route’ (‘Plot a Route’ in the app) allows you to start planning your own 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 on the National Park Pathways layer to make route planning faster and easier.
- ‘My Routes’ shows all your previously saved routes to review or print.
- ‘Import GPX’ allows you to import a GPX route file from your GPS device or other source (find out more about GPX files here).
While you are planning a route, you can use the ‘Expand’ button from the toolbar (browser only) to hide most menus and panels, giving you maximum space to plan your route. Saved routes are automatically synced between the OS Maps app and desktop versions.
5. Printing Routes and Maps
Click the print button on the toolbar (top right on desktop, bottom left on small screens) to print your map, with or without a current route.
You will print the current map type – standard, 50k, 25k or aerial photos. You can choose to print to a fixed scale, or fit the current route to screen if possible.
You can also choose A4 or A3 prints (if you have a suitable printer) and landscape or portrait orientation. There is also the option to show your waypoints and print a full route card with your map. Some print features, such as A3 printing, are Premium users only. There are no printing functions in the app.
6. Aerial 3D maps
Aerial 3D mapping is only available in the browser version, and you will need to be logged in as a Premium user. Change to Aerial 3D mapping by selecting it from the layers list.
You can't plan a route in this layer, but any routes already shown will appear 'floating' above the landscape, helping you see exactly where the route goes. Use the controls to adjust your point of view and move around the map - click 'Help' in the top right for both keyboard and mouse controls.
You can jump to any location by using the search box, and can switch between map and Aerial 3D views even while planning a route to check your progress.
7. Personal options
You can personalise OS Maps to suit your needs.
Click your name in the top right then ‘Preferences’ to 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.
8. 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
More help and FAQs