Mac Garmin Tools

The hompage for the tools is Download the tools and their documentation (these web pages) by clicking here.

POI Loader converts lots of .csv and .gpx files into one poi.gpi file and moves it onto your GPS unit for you. My approach is a little different to Garmin's: I concentrated on file-conversion and let you move the files to your GPS receiver as and when you see fit.

These tools are no longer being maintained or actively developed. They were originally written because Garmin didn't have a POI Loader application for the Mac. I had a Garmin nüvi and a GPSmap 60Cx and I didn't have a Windows computer, so I wrote what I needed. However Garmin had a big blast on writing support software for the Mac in 2009 and you can now find their file tools here. I did take this section of my site down for a while but I started getting email from people who still found my tools useful because they work differently to Garmin's software and allow you to do other things. So I put it back up again just as it was. I may or may not still respond to questions about this software.

These tools are charityware. If you use them more than just to test them out, give whatever they're worth to you (you may be a student or a millionaire) to a charity of your choice: a little or a lot. I like charities that dig wells in dry villages or support poor children so they can go to school instead of having to work, but the choice is yours.

Simon Slavin, email


If you're starting with a .gpx file
  1. drag and drop it onto gpx2gpi to make a .gpi file.
If you're starting with a .csv file
  1. drag and drop it onto csv2gpx to make a .gpx file, then
  2. drag and drop that onto gpx2gpi to make a .gpi file.

Then what ?

You move the .gpi files to your unit as and when you wish. Connect the unit to your computer and copy the .gpi files to the


folder of the unit. If you have an SD card you use with the device you can instead move the files to the same folder on that card. Disconnect the unit from your computer like you'd disconnect a Flash Drive and once the unit has booted it will display your points in its 'Favourites' list.

Some units have more than one way of using the USB connection: they can talk Garmin's own protocols, or NMEA, or connect to the computer as if they're a Mass Storage Device. The last of those is what you want: you need to make the receiver look like a Flash Drive to your computer.

That's it

That's it. That's all you need to do. The rest of this documentation is just minor details.

Why use the GPX format as a conversion format ?

The .csv format used by Garmin's POI Loader is a very simple format which allows you to specify three or four things about a point: coordinates, name and, optionally, a short text comment. It's fine for lists of points with no information but most of the time you need to add data: your points will be speed cameras and the program will need to know the speeds, or one of the fields will be a phone number and you'll need to tell the software that. This extra information can't be held in the .csv file because there's nowhere to put it.

The GPX format is a very rich, flexible format used for specifying waypoints, tracks and routes. It's used by a lot of GPS unit manufacturers, and by a lot of software which deals with coordinates, maps, and such things. It allows you to specify many things that can't be specified in a .csv file like alert criteria, phone numbers, addresses, and picture and sound files. It also has the advantage that it can be read by eye and the reader will know everything they have to know about a point.

For a list of all the information a Garmin unit can hold about a point, see the documentation for gpx2gpi.

The tools

Unmount nuvi

This Applet does that: unmounts the receiver in such a way as to prevent it from trying to remount. If your Mac unmounts the unit correctly, then you probably don't need it but under some versions of OS X attempting to disconnect the unit by ejecting the drive doesn't work properly: the drive is unmounted then immediately mounts again. You can use the 'Disk Utility' application to unmount instead of eject the drive, but this tool is simpler.

Just run this tool to unmount any drive called 'nuvi'. If you want to unmount another drive (perhaps an SD card in your unit) as well or instead, make a copy of the Applet and change its name to 'unmount' to unmount that volume.


If you're starting with .gpx files then you don't need this one, but many collections of POIs are distibuted as .csv files: simple text files with one line per point. This droplet converts (as its name suggests) .csv files to .gpx files. Drop six .csv files on it and you'll get six .gpx files. You can then use the .gpx files with another tool, or edit them using a text editor or an XML editor before processing them further.

This droplet allows you to set up certain settings while it works: it will look for related (.BMP, .mp3, .WAV, .jpeg, .JPG) files with the same name as your .csv file and, if it finds one it will include instructions in the .gpx file so that those files are used with the points. It will also ask the user for alert settings to be used for the points, to enable speed camera and similar alerts to be set up.

The options and abilities of this droplet are explained in the documentation.


This droplet converts .gpx files to .gpi files which are the files you can move directly onto your Garmin unit. Drop six .gpx files on it and you'll get six .gpi files. It does not ask for any user input: all the details it needs should be supplied in the .gpx file.

The droplet will automatically read resources from files referred to by the .gpx file and incorporate them into the .gpi file. You can use this to associate icons, pictures and audio files with each point, and use the audio files as alert sounds instead of the normal 'beep'.

The options and abilities of this droplet are explained in the documentation.


My thanks to various people who have helped me develop these tools and fix bugs. It's impossible to develop an application like this without help: there are just too many unexpected differences between source files and between how different models of Garmin units behave, and it's hard to test them all since I don't have one of each kind of Garmin unit. I really do appreciate your help. Thanks especially to danham for moderating nuvipassion and to dfroom for pointing out that what most people want is to process .csv files, not .gpx files.


I have written some notes on how nüvi units handle waypoints, and the differences between how it handles waypoints in .gpx and .gpi format. If you want so see my rough and unfinished notes on the format of .gpi files, email me. You can use them on the following two conditions:

  1. you make no profit from the results of the code, and
  2. you do nothing with it that conflicts with Garmin making a profit.


These applications are copyright ©2006/7 Simon Slavin. All rights reserved, all wrongs denied. Don't blame me if your break your GPS receiver, drive into a lake, get a speeding ticket, or otherwise suffer because you used my applications.

Release history

2007/08/251.3.3Sorts points by name in .gpi because it seems necessary. .csv and .gpi files now store text as ISO Latin 1.
2007/04/071.3.2Fixes for speed, lineends in .csv file fields, .csv files that don't end in a lineend, GPX fields with XML in, more bitmaps formats work, category fields with HTML markup in
2007/03/241.3.1Fixes for alerts with no speed set, for .csv files with differing numbers of fields per line and .gpx files without whitespace (e.g. PoiEdit).
2007/03/221.3.0Faster; date in meta-header; systems where decimal separator is a comma; transparancy in 4-bit and 8-bit bitmaps
2007/02/051.2.1slightly better graphics; a bit faster; GPX files can have things in besides waypoints; non-UK System languages
2007/02/021.2.0Categories; multi-language handling.
not released1.1.0Many small fixes; improvement in the way information is encoded into the .gpi files to speed up how the GPS units process them.
2007/01/071.0.1Description field fixed; files with more than one bitmap now show all bitmaps correctly; timestamp correct; copes when there's no metadata.
2007/01/031.0.0Initial release. Completely bug-free as is all my software.