Readers questions: Transfer GPX file to Garmin?

I frequently get questions from readers, and one that crops up quite often goes something like this – “I’m doing a sportive event soon and I’ve downloaded the GPX of the route. How do I transfer the GPX file to my Garmin?”

So, you’ve got a big event or route coming up? Congratulations, that’s awesome, particularly if it’s your first.
By the way, if you need some serious tips about how to survive your first BIG ride, try this post.

#1 Download the GPX file from the event website.

The first step is to download the GPX file so that you have a copy on your computer. If you’ve entered a paid event, chances are that you’ll get an email from them at some point with instructions about how to download the file. Otherwise, it would be worth looking for a section about the route details, and look for a link to download the GPX file.
Try to pay attention to where your computer will save the file, because you need to be able to locate it later.

#2 Transfer GPX file to Garmin

This is the bit that seems to stump some people, but it’s really rather easy once you’ve done it once or twice. Hey, it’s like riding a bike! You have the GPX file on your computer, and you just need to move or transfer it over to the Garmin device.

To do this, follow these steps:

Connect the Garmin to the computer with a USB cable.
Check that you can “see” the device, plus its memory card (if there’s one installed). In Windows, the best way to do this is to double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop. This shows you all of the various drives in your computer, plus any attached storage devices.

This is what mine looks like with the Garmin connected. The H: drive is clearly labelled Garmin Edge 800. That’s the internal memory of the unit itself. The one labelled “Removable Disk (J:)” is the SD card inside the Garmin. Yours may be assigned a different letter. You can copy your route to either the internal memory OR the SD

Double click into either the Garmin’s own internal memory, OR the SD card.

You’ll see a folder called Garmin. Double click into that folder, and you’ll see a range of folders, including one called NewFiles.


Copy your GPX file into the NewFiles folder.

To do this, just drag and drop the file from your computer to the NewFiles window. Or copy and paste it, whichever is easier and quicker for you.

I know some people can get a bit stuck on this part, and it’s often overlooked. People who write tutorials on the web make certain assumptions that everybody knows how to undertake such basic tasks as copying files, but take it from me, I know how many people struggle with these things. Computers are weird aren’t they?

This might help –

You should have two windows open – the window with the GPX file that you downloaded, plus the window showing the NewFiles folder on your Garmin.
Try to arrange these windows so that you can see both of them on screen at the same time. You can drag the edges of the windows to re-size them.
Once you can see both, click on the GPX file and hold the mouse button down whilst dragging the file over to the “NewFiles” window. This is called a “drag and drop”, and will copy the file over for you.

Alternatively – find the GPX file you downloaded, and right-click on it (click on it with the right mouse button) and choose “Copy” from the options in the menu that appears.

right click copy

Right-click inside the “NewFiles” folder and then choose “Paste” from the options. This will also copy the file over for you.

Congratulations, you can now successfully transfer a GPX file to a Garmin! Easy, wasn’t it?

#3 Disconnect and then restart your Garmin

When you restart your Garmin, it looks in the NewFiles folder to check if there are any, erm, new files.

If it finds a GPX file in there, it will create a course out of it, which will then appear in the Courses menu.

To access the Courses menu

Tap the Menu button, followed by Courses. Simple!

You should then see your GPX course in the list. Tap it to see more info.

This bit is important!

Before you start the course, you need to manually adjust the settings so that the unit will provide Turn by Turn directions for you.

To do this, tap the spanner icon, then choose the Turn Guidance option, and make sure it is switched to ON.

Most people advise to turn the Virtual Partner function OFF.

Garmin Course Setup
The course is now ready, and if you press GO it will calculate the route for you.

Notice the custom background image?
If you’d like to know how to customise your own Garmin background screen, Sign up to my mailing list. I’ll let you know when the post is published (it won’t be long).

Need a free tutorial on course navigation for the Garmin Edge 800?

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  1. Eddie says

    I don’t seem to be able to add more than 1 file to my edge800 at once. If I upload 2 or more files either with this method or with Basecamp only one new course can be found after starting the edge.

    I’ve heard from other users that they don’t have this problem. Any idea what is wrong with my device?

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