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.

Here’s a step by step guide showing you how to load a GPX file  of a sportive to your Garmin Bike GPS computer.

Video Version.

The video version includes a great tip not included in the text version below.
Here’s what one ScarletFire reader had to say about the video:

Your video on downloading a GPX was excellent. I had spent two hours faffing around and you cured my problem really quickly. The instructions from Evans for downloading their GPX file were pathetic.

Transfer GPX file to Garmin

#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.

Download this article as a PDF

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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100 miles
  • Eddie

    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?

    • Duncan Tennant

      Eddie – I have the same issue. Did you ever discover a solution?

  • Jules Lefebvre

    My computer do not recognize my Garmin 800 nore. What do I do ?

    • Alan Thompson

      First thing I would try would be a different USB lead.

  • andrew grindrod

    this was sooo easy and such a useful guide. thanks so much

    • Alan Thompson

      You’re welcome Andrew! Please tell all your friends 😉

  • Malcolm Parsons

    I’ve entered a sportive and the website for the event have both gpx and tcx routes – I’ve hit the download button and after a few seconds all I see is a great long list of directions – nothing pops up asking me to save these files anywhere – can you help please

    • Alan Thompson

      Hi Malcolm, it sounds like your browser might be opening the file up, and showing you the contents of the actual file. What you’re trying to do is save the file to your computer. Try right-clicking on the download link and then choosing Save Target As…. (might vary depending on your browser).

    • Malcolm Parsons

      Alan yes you’re right 100% about seeing the contents of the file – I’ll see if I can find the suggestion you mention but I’m sure I looked at every conceivable way to save the actual file – I have windows 8 and a mate of mine has had the same problem also with windows 8 – thankfully my other half offered her iMac to use and it saved no problem at all. Would be nice to get puter to work though – thanks Malcolm

  • Olivier Paudex

    Hi, I’m looking to do the same for the activities. Is it possible to transfer activities from Garmin Connect to an Edge 1000. I have tried to push my CSV file into “New Files” and also convert it to FIT and push it to “New Files”. Doesn’t work in both solution. Any ideas

  • Jacko1889

    Thank you so so so so much, so simple when someone explains it clearly

  • Phil

    Thanks for this. There appeared to be a syn issue. The file is on my Edge Touring Plus but hasnt transferred to my courses in “Garmin Connect” – any ideas?

  • Mike

    You can also upload a route file as an Activity into Connect, then ‘Save As Course’. Go to the list of Courses, find the one you just created and give it a different name. Save it, then go back and delete the Activity (or it’ll look like you already did it!).

  • Dave

    I’m doing this on an Edge 1000 and everything works perfectly when I transfer a qpx/tcx file to the ‘NewFiles’ folder on the Garmin itself. However, when I transfer the same files to the microSD card I have mounted in the Edge it does not work (the files write to the card but the Garmin does not seem to see them). I’ve created a folder on the microSD called ‘Garmin’ but the Edge fails to add the file to the ‘Courses’ menu. I even tried creating a subfolder called ‘NewFiles’ and put files in there but it still didn’t work. Then I realised that the Edge has been writing all my activities to the internal memory even though I have told it to write to the microSD card in Settings>System>Data Recording. The card is mounted correctly as it appears on the computer when I plug in the Garmin and, as I mentioned, I am able to write files to it when I plug the Garmin into the computer.
    My firmware is version 2.80 and I see that there is an update available but my only windows machine runs XP and Garmin Express requires Windows 7 or later. I wonder if anyone knows either if I’m doing something wrong or if the firmware update will cure this issue.

  • Mike

    Hi – can anyone help with getting “turn by turn” instructions on the 810? It doesn’t have the same instruction set as the 800 tutorial from Alan!

  • satkin55

    I’ve got a Edge 810 and this process works fine for me.

    The thing I’m still not sure about is whether to use a GPX or TCX file? The sportive I’m doing has both available, but which is better / easier?