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OS Maps FAQs

Here are just a few FAQs to help you use OS Maps. For lots more help and FAQs please visit our OS Maps page.

Questions about getting started

How do I register?

On the startup screen click the 'Register for OS Maps Free' button and enter your details. If you have previously made a purchase from the OS Shop and created an account you can use that existing email address and password.

How do I subscribe to get the full features?

Select a subscription level inside OS Maps and complete the checkout process to access all the features. See a list of the subscription options.

What features are available for guests, registered users and subscribers?

Take a look at our handy table showing the features you get for each level of OS Maps.

More FAQs on the basics

Questions about maps and features

What maps are available? How do I view OS 1: 25 000 scale and 1: 50 000 scale maps?

Use the ‘layers’ button in the bottom to switch between the standard map only, standard map plus OS 1: 25 000 scale and OS 1: 50 000 scale map layers and aerial imagery.

OS 1: 25 000 scale and OS 1: 50 000 scale map layers are only available to subscribers. Standard map and aerial imagery is available to both guests and registered users.

The maps cover Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) only. The Isle of Man is mapped by the Isle of Man government; however Ordnance Survey does map the Isle of Man at 1:50 000 scale only.

How do I find a location?

Use the ‘Search for location’ box in the top left. You can use a place name, a postcode or a Grid Reference. For place names, it will suggest matches as you type - if the suggestions are incorrect you can keep typing to override them. After you have hit enter or clicked on a suggestion the map will move to that location and additional information for that point will be shown. You can now check the weather or begin plotting a route from this point.

If there is no exact match for your search, the search tool will match to the next best result. If there is no near match for the place you have entered the search box will revert to 'United Kingdom' – check your spelling and try again.

How do I move around the map?

    1. Use the search box to search for a new location
    2. Click and drag with a mouse (click the left/main button and hold down, then move the mouse)
    3. Swipe with a touch screen

    You can zoom in and out using the zoom controls in the bottom right, by using pinch zoom on a touch screen or by using a scroll wheel on a mouse.

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

    Click the main menu then ‘Places’ and then turn on the features you would like to see. Any that are visible on the area currently being displayed will show as blue symbols.

    Where there are a several close together, they will appear as a cluster with a number instead of a symbol which shows the number of individual places. Zoom in until it displays individual points, or click on the cluster and use the arros to scroll through the individual places. If there are no places within that category visible you may need to zoom out a little or move around the map until you can see them.

    More FAQs on maps and features

    Questions about routes

    How do I plot a route?

    Registered users and subscribers can create a route. Start by clicking on ‘Routes’ and then ‘Create Custom Route’.

    Your first click on the map will set the start point, marked with a green marker. Continue to click on the map to create subsequent points – the last will be marked with another green marker, while intermediate ones appear as small dots.

    The map will automatically scroll so the last point you created is in the centre. You will notice the route data panel on the left will show the waypoints and elevation profile.

    You can change the location of any point by clicking it and dragging it to a new location. You can delete a point by clicking it and selecting the delete option.

    Once you have completed your route click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the route data panel. You will be prompted to enter a name, some notes and what activity this route was designed for – walking, running, cycling or other.

    You can add additional information, such as the terrain type, difficulty and a rating, as well as uploading any photos (coming soon). By adding this information you can help both yourself and others to find routes that best meet their needs.

    Lastly, you can set sharing options. Setting it to ‘Only Me’ keeps the route private. Selecting ‘Everyone’ makes this route visible to all OS Maps users. Note that registered users are not able to change this setting – all routes are shared by default.

    How do I edit an existing route?

    Click on 'Routes' in the top menu, then click 'My Routes' in the left menu. Select 'My Routes' to display all of your saved routes, then click 'edit' on the route that you wish to change. Next, click save - this allows you to edit all route details, such as name and activity type. Once you've finished amending your route, click the save button at the bottom of the menu.

    If your 'My Routes' folder is empty, you may have been logged out automatically after 30 minutes of inactivity. Please login again by clicking 'refresh' (or F5) in your browser, or closing and reopening OS Maps.

    Can I export my routes from OS getamap in to OS Maps?

    Yes. Routes created in OS getamap before 6th March have already been imported in OS Maps. Routes created after this date can be exported from OS getamap and imported in to OS Maps by following these steps:

    • Select the route that you want to export from OS getamap and click 'On my map' in the left menu.
    • Under the selected route (next to the flag icon), click the link to export the GPX.
    • In the 'Export' pop-up, choose to export your file as a 'GPX/KML file' and save the file on your device.
    • Open the OS Maps application, and select the 'Routes' tab in the top menu.
    • Choose the file you want to import and click save.

    Ensure any routes to be transferred have a 'route name' (not a file name) saved in OS getamap as this will be displayed in OS Maps. You can edit the route name in the Route information tab. The route will not save in OS Maps without a route name.

    Can I import a GPX file and create a route in OS Maps?

    Yes. Go to 'Routes' in the top menu and select Import GPX. Click 'Choose File' to find the file on your hard drive or connected device memory then 'Save' to create the route. Once you have imported a route it appears in the 'My Routes' list. You can update the route name, line style and more by editing it using these instructions.

    Please note: at the moment OS Maps only handles a limited range of GPX file types/formats. we are working on expanding the GPX import function to handle GPX files from as many different sources as possible.

    Lots more FAQs on routes

    Questions about printing

    What printing options are supported? How do I print?

    • Subscribers can print maps and routes in A4 or A3 showing the standard map, 1:25 000 scale or 1: 50 000 scale mapping.
    • Registered users can print the standard and aerial maps in A4 portrait or landscape, including any routes created or discovered routes.
    • Non logged in users cannot print – please register for free to enable printing.

    To print the current map view or route, ensure the area you wish to print is currently visible on screen, and click the printer icon in the top menu bar to open the print panel.

    You can choose the map layer to print (registered users are restricted to standard map and aerial), and portrait or landscape. A3 options are available for subscribers only. Maps can be printed to proper scale, or select ‘to bounds’ to print the whole route on one page, if possible. Note that grid references are only shown on 'to scale' prints.

    On the map you will see a preview of the area that will be printed highlighted. You can adjust the area to be printed by dragging the map or by using the zoom controls. Click the ‘Include route card’ option to print the description and a list of waypoints for the current route – note that for longer routes, especially those created from a GPX file, this could create a large print.

    Once you are happy with the print area and options, click ‘Preview’ to see how it will print or ‘Print’ to print immediately.

    How do I choose which map type (Explorer or Landranger) is printed?

    Following the most recent update, you will now print whatever map scale is visible on screen. Change map layer and zoom in to show the area and map type desired. You can also switch map layers and adjust zoom when you have the print options panel open, but now after you have clicked 'preview'.

    Why can't I see the whole print area when selecting prints?

    Depending on the size of your screen, the whole print area may not be visible at once on your screen. This is most obvious on A3 prints buy may also occur on A4 prints from smaller screens. The quickest way is to use your browser screen zoom controls to zoom out (menu > zoom out, ctrl+-, command+-) until the whole print area is visible. Remember to resent the zoom to 100% later.

    Lots more FAQs on printing

    Questions about personalisation and options

    How do I set what is shown when I first log in?

    Subscribers only: click on your username and then select ‘Preferences’ to change the options. You can set the map to open showing all of Great Britain (default), at your current location (as detected by your browser or device GPS settings) or at a fixed point.

    You can also set the default map layer to be shown. Note that the accuracy of your current location depends on your browser and ISP settings, and can be significantly out, especially if your browser or ISP is deliberately masking your true location.

    Can I get route distances to show in miles instead of kilometres, or heights to show in feet instead of metres?

    Yes. Click on your account name in the top menu, then ‘Preferences’ and change show distances and measurements from metric to imperial. Note that this will show all distances and speeds in imperial measurements – you cannot mix metric and imperial, for instance on the elevation profile.

    More FAQs on personalisation and options

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