Using map tools
MapGazer is a free program for viewing and saving maps and also viewing,
editing, and saving
GPX data (tracks, routes, waypoints, images, etc.).
You can download mapGazer here.
MapGazer is especially useful when the device in use has an unreliable
(or no) internet connection, because it uses ‘offline’ maps (maps
stored on your computer or tablet). It is fast and simple to use,
and allows uncluttered viewing of maps.
Please click on the ‘Using ...’ menu items on the left to see screenshots
illustrating the main features; or click on ‘Getting started’ for
an overview of the application.
- MapGazer uses tiled maps which can be downloaded from many
sources (see Getting maps). You can overlay another map
(e.g., geological) with variable transparency (see this animation, and also Using transparency). You can also use
downloaded elevation data to add altitude information to maps.
- GPX files can be loaded to add tracks, routes, waypoints,
images, and areas; all of these can be edited and then saved back
to GPX files – see below for an example of a map with a track and
- You can easily create images from maps (which can be much
larger than screenshots), copy and compress maps, and create
subsets of maps (for example, for a mobile phone).
- The user interface is ‘modeless’; marks shown on maps (tracks,
waypoints, etc.) can be created and edited directly (without first
entering a “routing mode”, for example); in particular:
- tracks can be trimmed to remove unwanted points at the start
- routes can be adjusted and detailed by dragging, have waypoints
added with a click, and let you measure distances and bearings;
- waypoints (points of interest) can moved by dragging, and
be assigned names, links, icons, and colours;
- images (including satellite or drone images, or graphics
such as cave surveys) can also have their aspect ratio and scale
- areas, which are rectangular, can be adjusted by dragging
the edges or corners, and can have a fixed aspect ratio to match
paper or print proportions;
- scales can be moved by dragging, and automatically adjust
their width to suit the window size.
- You can edit the main properties (name, colour, icon, link
URL, etc.) of tracks, routes, waypoints, images, areas, and scales.
Statistics (such as the length, time, elevations, and duration
of a recorded track) can be viewed and easily copied to the clipboard.
- A number of shortcut keys are provided for common actions.
In particular, the Escape (Esc) key toggles between full-screen and
window views, and the Space Bar toggles between showing status and
- Multiple views (windows) are supported – the map (and any
overlay map) displayed in each view can be changed or zoomed (using
mouse, keyboard, or touch screen) at will, which allows detailed
inspection of different areas. Any GPX data (tracks etc.) will appear
in all relevant views.
You can also explicitly set the aspect ratio of any window
(to compare map layouts, for example).
- The visible map is maximized by the ‘retro’-style menu bar;
further, the menu bar and/or title bar can be hidden, or maps can
be viewed full-screen; you can also open a satellite view that matches
a map view (if an internet connection is available).
Here is an example of a topological map showing a recorded track
and associated waypoints (showing some icon colour
possibilities – all icon colours can be adjusted as required):
Sample track and waypoints (start, water crossing, etc.)
MapGazer runs on a Windows personal computer (PC, laptop, or tablet,
running Windows 7 or later); it also runs on Windows XP and Windows
emulators on Mac OS and Linux, but is not fully tested in those environments.
Internally, MapGazer permits the use of any tiled map format; for
storage it uses the MGMaps map format (as used by MyTrails and other applications – see Getting Maps). I’m open to suggestions
for other formats to support for storage; ideally one for which pre-packaged
offline maps are available.
MapGazer has been written ‘from scratch’, but is inspired by – or
uses libraries by – many people, acknowledged here.