STEP 1: Download and install the latest version of the Garmin POI Loader. The POI Loader software lets your PC communicate with your GPS unit. Let’s assume you install this software into the directory C:\Garmin.
STEP 2: You will need to create a new Folder for your “Custom POI” files. For this tutorial, it is assumed that this Folder is “C:\My POI”. Open Windows Explorer and left click on the “C:\” drive in the left pane. Move your cursor into the right pane and right click on a blank space. Select New > Folder and type in the name “My POI” (without the quotes), then press enter to accept it.
STEP 3: If you do not have any POI files, download a few POI files from POI Factory into the folder created in Step 2. POI files may be in either CSV or GPX format (that is, the three character extension following the name will be .csv or .gpx, respectively). Don’t go wild downloading right now; you can return for more files later.
STEP 4: Open the folder containing the files to be loaded into your GPS. This is the C:\My POI folder created in Step 2 above. If you do not see extensions like .csv or .gpx, follow this procedure:
A. In the Menu bar, click on Tools > Folder Options… and then select the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.
B. Uncheck the box next to “Hide extensions for known file types.” Click the radio button to select “Show hidden files and folders”
C. Click Apply at the bottom of the dialog box
D. Click the selection bar near the top of the dialog box that says “Apply to all Folders.”
E. Click Ok to accept your changes.
F. Verify that you now see the extensions (like .csv or .gpx) on EVERY file.
STEP 5: Connect your GPS to your computer using a USB cable. Wait for the GPS to show it is connected and ready to receive files (Black screen with an ICON at the bottom showing it is connected to the computer.) Your computer should alert you that it has found a new removable device.
STEP 6: Run POI Loader using this procedure:
A. Start POI Loader
B. On the opening screen, click “Next >”
C. Under “Save Options”, Select “Garmin Device” as where you would like to save your Points of Interest. Click “Next>”.
D. On the “Select the device…” screen, your GPS will be shown in the box labeled “Device”. Press “Next>”.
E. On the next screen, choose “Install new custom POIs on your device and click “Next>”.
F. POI Loader will ask you to select the directory of the files to be loaded. Use the BROWSE button and select the FOLDER containing the POI files.
G. Select the measurement units to be used by your GPS - either Feet and Miles per hour or Meters and Kilometers.
H. The POI Loader suggests running the program in Express mode. For BASIC file loading, this is sufficient. NOTE: The only two alert sounds that will play automatically are for Red Light and Speed cameras. For other alert sounds to play, you must select MANUAL and set either a distance or speed alert trigger. The default alert sound is a BONG or DING. [*TIP*: If a file name contains ANY numbers, POI Loader will assume it is a speed alert and play the sound file for that POI automatically. If you have set a speed alert and are traveling faster than the alert speed, the alert will continue to sound until you are at or below the alert speed.] Press “Next>”.
I. POI Loader will read and convert the POI files and load them to your GPS. If POI Loader encounters an error with a source file, it will tell you the name of the file POI file containing an error. When finished, POI Loader will tell you the number of POI successfully loaded to your GPS.
NOTE: Every time you run POI Loader, it creates a file called “poi.gpi”, replacing any “poi.gpi” file on your GPS and you will loose any Custom POIs on your GPS not contained in your just chosen source Folder. Note that the built-in POIs on your GPS are not affected. Remember, all files you want as Custom POIs have to be present in that source Folder every time you run POI Loader UNLESS you decide to rename the file POI Loader just created. This is actually a good idea, so follow this procedure:
A. Go to Windows Explorer and select the Drive called “Garmin Nuvi”
B. In the left pane, left double click on the Garmin folder and then left double click on the POI folder.
C. In the right pane, right click on the file “poi.gpi”.
D. Select Rename and give the file a new name BUT leave the .gpi extension alone. It is useful to have a name that includes the date these POIs were loaded, but any valid name meaningful to you is OK.
NOTE: Once you use this renaming technique, you should always do a rename after each run of POI Loader. If you did a simple reloading of previous files, you would want to delete the file from the previous POI Loader run. If you added new files, you would rename “poi.gpi” to something meaningful to you.
STEP 7: Disconnect your GPS using the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in the System Tray.
STEP 8: Power up the GPS and select WHERE TO > EXTRAS (for some GPS units, this is WHERE TO > MY LOCATIONS) and see if CUSTOM POI is displayed. Press CUSTOM POI and you should see a list of all the POIs loaded.
STEP 9: Turn on Alerts on your GPS unit by Tools > Settings > Proximity Points > Proximity Alerts.
STEP 10: All done - take a drive to a nearby POI.
NOTE: Possible Problem: Your GPS may not like the VERY long URL's of many of the Forest Service locations. You may need to delete that column to successfully load the list.
NOTE: When you download POI's from the PC to the Garmin, the new download will overwrite ALL POI's stored in the GPS. For example, if you decided to transfer the most recent version of the DB to the GPS and then went into the GPS and looked under the Extras tab, you would find your newly transferred POI's only. Everything else like WalMarts, Rest Areas, etc would not be there. They have been overwritten.
So, here is what you do. I have a folder called POI's that I use to store everything that I want to transfer to the GPS. I would download your newest DB into this folder then go into the folder and delete all other POI's, including the older version of the DB, that I wanted to also transfer to the GPS. I then go to the POI Factory and download the most current version of any POI's I like to use. Now I have the most recent version of everything and that gets transferred into the GPS.
How to see your GPS route:
Once you have entered the destination into the GPS and told it to GO, on the page where you view the map you will see a banner at the very top of the page with the very first route direction/road. Tap on that banner and another page will appear that lists every turn involved in the trip. You can scroll through that list looking at street/highway names.
At the bottom of the page is a See Map tab. Tap that and the route map will appear. Using the +- tab, zoom in until you can see street names.
CAUTION: Sometimes, the Garmin uses local names for it's streets rather then highway route numbers, and vice versa. You might be looking for County Road 101 and Garmin might be calling it Acme Road because that's the name on the street sign. Can be confusing at times.
A GPS unit is a nice *assistant* but is no replacement for a paper map nor for reading road directional signs.
If you would like to add Icons and Sounds to your Garmin POI’s, look here: www.poi-factory.com/
Tutorial courtesy of Ed Daniels