How to Update Garmin GPS

Garmin GPS flashed on the screen of the phone

space gray iPhone 6 showing maps

Garmin has long been a leading hardware manufacturer of global positioning systems. While mobile phones now heavily rely on Google Maps, Garmin relies on other improving technology in order to give you a world-leading GPS service. In order to ensure you have the latest mapping information, you will need to update the Garmin GPS from time to time. Of course, if you haven’t done this before you won’t know how to do it. Here is what you need to know for how to update Garmin GPS devices.

What Is Garmin GPS?

Garmin is a leading hardware manufacturer for GPS equipment. There area number of devices you might own from the company. This includes car based devices you place onto the dash of your vehicle all the way to hiking GPS devices. The company also makes equipment specially designed for Europe and other areas of the world, so if you’re traveling and need the latest mapping and street information that may not be available on other GPS services, you will want to invest in a Garmin device. Once you know how to update Garmin GPS devices, you’ll be able to do it whenever necessary.

When to Update My Garmin GPS?

iPhone on vehicle phone holder

In general, your Garmin device will provide you with a quality GPS system. It does not have the same delays you might experience with other GPS devices (such as on a mobile phone, especially if you are out of a data signal range). However, while your Garmin GPS device will have quality map information, there are always new construction projects, roads added, removed or altered that will not be on your current GPS system.

Garmin collects this information and continually updates the GPS on its Garmin device. If you have a hiking Garmin GPS, the device will include updates to national parks, hiking routes that have been altered because of a storm or added in the recent past. Whatever the reasoning is, you will want to update your Garmin GPS whenever possible.

The best way to know when to update your Garmin GPS is by checking the system if there are any update notifications. Garmin will send you a notification, just like any other mobile device, in the form of a push notification. So when you receive the notification you will know it is time to update the device. You need to know how to update Garmin GPS.

After gaining this knowledge on how to update Garmin GPS, you will be able to keep it up to date moving forward.

How to Update Garmin GPS

The update process is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is follow these how to update Garmin GPS device instructions and you’ll have everything you need to perform the update, regardless of the exact model of Garmin GPS you currently are running.

Connect Your Garmin to a Computer

To begin the update, you will need to connect your Garmin GPS device to a computer. Whether you are using a driving unit or a hiking unit, it needs to be connected to a computer with an Internet connection.

Once you have the device connected to your computer, you will need to power the Garmin GPS on. Use the provided USB cable, plug it into the mini USB port on the Garmin device, then connect it to a USB port on your computer system.

Momentarily, the computer will open a Garmin prompt.

Install Garmin Express Onto Your Computer

In order to perform the update, you will need to install the Garmin Express software onto your computer. It is available for both Windows and macOS devices, so this should not be an issue. After you connect the Garmin device to your computer, it will open the Garmin Express download page.

When the window opens, you will want to click the “Download for Windows” or “Download for Mac” option. Momentarily, the appropriate software will download to your computer and install automatically. Once the installation wizard has opened, follow the prompts to complete the process.

Accessing Your Update Files

Once you have the Garmin Express software installed on your computer, you’ll be able to continue with the update process.

The Garmin Express software will allow you to choose one of two different options. The first is an available update that Garmin puts out for free. The second option is a purchase update.

To see what specific files are available you will want to click the “Add a Device” option within the Garmin Express software. The software will search for devices. As long as you have left your GPS powered on and connected through the USB cable it will detect the Garmin device.

Click “Select All” and the Garmin Express software will connect with its server to identify which updates are available for your device. It will then inform you exactly which files you can download and install. Sometimes these will be firmware updates that do not affect the map installed on the device but instead the software and how it works. Other times the update will be an actual map update.

When the Garmin Express software has determined the files, you can download and install onto your Garmin device select all the files you wish to update. The software will now transfer the files over to your Garmin device. During the file transfer it is very important for you to not power off the Garmin GPS, nor should you disconnect the equipment. If you do either it will stop the file update. It may also cause extreme problems with how your equipment is running, which may result in the corruption of the device. If the device becomes corrupt during the installation, you will need to perform a hard reset and install the entire operating system, software, and maps back onto the device.

Finished Update

Once the update has finished, you will be notified through the Garmin Express software. Garmin will also remember the device you have and can notify you of future updates (for both the firmware and the map software) when such a file becomes available. You can also search for purchase updates now that the software knows of the specific device.

After the file has finished updating you will now need to disconnect it from the computer. There is a proper way to disconnect the device from the computer and you do not want to just turn it off or unplug the USB cable. This again may end in corrupting the hard drive or memory files on the Garmin GPS unit.

Select the device from the Garmin Express software, then click the “Eject” option. Momentarily the software will automatically eject the Garmin GPS unit from your computer. One this process has finished it will disappear from the list of available devices. After the eject has completed disconnect it from your computer and connect it back with your car or other devices.

You will want to restart the Garmin GPS in order to allow the update to go into effect (during the physical update process the Garmin unit may power off and on without you performing the power change).

Fitness Tracker Changes

There are a handful of devices that might function differently from the more traditional Garmin GPS devices. This includes the Garmin fitness trackers and smartwatches. Both devices are designed to be worn and as such have a handful of different features. The portable device will still need to be connected with the Garmin Express software although depending on the device this might be done via Bluetooth instead of USB.

If the device connects via a Bluetooth, you will need to turn on the Bluetooth feature of your computer prior to pairing it up. On the Mac computer click the Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner of the screen (when Bluetooth is off, the “B” icon will appear as a light gray image next to the Wi-Fi logo).

If you’re running a Windows computer, the process will be a little different, based on what version of the Windows operating system you’re running. Usually, this is located in the lower right corner of the computer. However, if you’re having trouble finding the Bluetooth control feature on your computer, you can click the “Search” option and then type in “Bluetooth” into the search field.

Once you have Bluetooth enabled, you can then pair it to your computer and run the Garmin Express software. From here, the firmware, map, or other software updates will be the same as a larger device.

Conclusion

When it comes to your Garmin device, there will be a time when you will want to update it. By updating the GPS device, you’ll have the latest routing information, including any possible road constructions or other route alterations that may have taken place since the last software update. When you know how to update Garmin GPS devices, you will be able to perform all needed updates moving forward as the update process will not change with the particular piece of equipment you have. No matter which Garmin GPS device you have, by following these “how to update Garmin GPS” instructions, you’ll have all the information you need.

About the Author: Danny Williams

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