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OS Maps App FAQ

Latest updates

Latest updates - release notes

A minor update to improve the downloading of offline maps on slower internet connections and to improve on how data on new subscriptions was transferred.

Known Bugs

Here are some of the main known bugs (and fixes) to help you on your way. Thanks for your patience as we work through these.

I select a downloaded offline paper map, but I can't see anything on screen. Why?

There are generally two reasons
1. You have 'locate me' turned on, and the app has moved to your current location, rather than where your downloaded map is. Turn off ‘locate me’ before selecting a downloaded map.
2. You are not zoomed in sufficiently to show the map. Zoom in further and see if the map appears. The easiest way to make sure you’re looking in the right place, and the right zoom level is to tap on the offline paper map on your list of paper maps, and the app will zoom to the area.

Why are some gridlines at an angle?

This is an issue on iOS (the map is pointing to true north, rather than grid north) - we are aware of this issue and will release a fix to this shortly.

On iOS, why can I not access any of my offline maps when I have no data connection?

iOS 13 introduced a new default where all downloads (including offline maps) are save to iCloud. This may mean they are not available when you are offline, depending on the sync status. To tell iOS to always save to the device, go to the iOS Settings, select OS Maps, then Document Storage. Ensure it is set to 'On my iPhone'. We are looking for a way to tell iOS to only allow files to be saved to the device by default.

The basics

What devices does OS Maps work on?

The OS Maps mobile app is available on Apple iPhones and iPads running iOS 11 and higher and on Android devices using Android 5 and higher. It is not available on Microsoft devices or Amazon Kindle. You can also use the OS Maps browser version, using the same username and password on both mobile devices and computers with a recent web browser.

How do I register?

Open the app choose 'Go Free' to create a free account, or 'Go Premium' to create a Premium (paid) account. You will need to have a data connection while registering.

If you have already created an account in the web version or on the OS shop, please log in with those details. If you have forgotten your password use the account management page to reset it.

Why does it say my email is already in use?

You have probably already used your email address to make a purchase in the shop or create an account in the past. Either create a new account by using a different email address (if you have one) or use the 'I've lost my password' link on the login page of the main website. If you still get problems logging in, please let us know.

How do I change my email address?

Go to ‘My Account’, use the existing login details that you use for OS Maps to log in. Select ‘Account Information’ on the left. Then in the box where your current email address is shown, replace with your new address. Untick the 'Change password' box & click ‘Save’.

Why does the app ask for email and camera access permission?

We need access to various permissions:

  • Email to import and export routes as GPX files from your email. Disabling this will prevent you from creating routes from imported GPX files. Exporting GPX files is limited to subscribers only.
  • Camera for the AR functions including feature labelling and table surface AR (iOS).
  • Location settings are used to show your location on the map using the built-in GPS functions
  • Storage is used to save offline maps and routes.
  • Notifications are used to warn you when you are off a route you are following, or for other alerts from the app.
  • Storage is used to save offline maps and routes.
  • Contacts are used so you can use the 'route share function and send them to a contact by email, text or other messaging service.
Why is my Premium subscription is not showing in OS Maps?

If you have a Premium subscription and this is not showing in the app, then you may need to refresh the application to make it show. To do this, please log out of OS Maps, uninstall the app and then reinstall. This will ensure that you are receiving the latest version of OS Maps app for your device.

Once installed, log in to the app. Your premium subscription should be showing. You can confirm this by tapping ‘Menu’, and then tapping ‘Account' under the ‘My Profile’ section. Here it should state that you are a Premium subscriber. If this is not showing then please contact our customer service team.

Viewing maps

How do I switch between maps?

OS Maps app Layers buttonUse the 'layers' button in the bottom right of the map screen to switch between the available map types. Some types are only available to Premium users. The OS Leisure Map automatically switches between 1:25k (OS Explorer), 1:50 (OS Landranger) and 1:250k OS Road map types.

How do I view a download I got with my paper map?

At the moment, to view the download with your paper map, you need to find the map from your downloads list. Go to Menu, 'Offline maps' the 'Paper maps'. If the map is not already downloaded, you can download it here. Tap the name of the map to load it and jump to that map.

Unless you are also a Premium user, you will not be able to get to your maps by switching layer on the main map page at the moment.

How do I use the AR (augmented reality) view?

OS Maps app AR buttonOn the main map screen click the AR button in the top right corner. This will turn on the rear camera and the AR labels.

Hold the device up to the horizon, and labels will show the feature name and distance. Click on a text label to open a web page with information about that point. AR will work with no mobile phone signal, but opening the information page will require a data connection.

To change what kind of features you see, use the options button in the bottom right to turn sets of icons on and off - a solid colour circle is on, a transparent circle is off.

How do I use the Greenspace layer?

Green spaces that are available to the public are shown using the key below:

Public park or gardens, including village greens, nature reserves and similar
Play space – children's’ play area unless it’s inside a paid attraction or school. Includes features like skate parks.
Playing field for football, rugby, cricket, etc. which is accessible to the public
Sports – all sorts of sports facilities not in other categories, such as recreation centres and swimming pools. Includes both free access and paid facilities, but not places only for spectators.
Golf course – including both private and public courses
Allotments and community growing spaces. May not have public access.
Religious grounds and cemeteries, where these have a reasonable amount of greenspace. May not be available all the time.
Pedestrian access pointPedestrian access point
Vehicle access pointVehicle access point

We’ve not included several features:

  • Woodlands, as these are already clearly marked with a green tint on the ‘standard’ map
  • Play areas and playing fields in school grounds, as these are generally not accessible to the public
  • National parks, open access land, rights of way in the countryside and similar, as the Greenspace map is for urban greenspace areas available to the public
What’s the night map for?

It’s useful when out at night as the low brightness will not spoil your night vision. It also saves battery life as less power is used by the screen.

How do I move around the map?

To move around, swipe left - right and up - down. You can zoom in and out using two-finger pinch and zoom controls.

Use the 'Search' at the top of your screen. As long as you're connected to the internet, we'll try to work out the name of the place you're trying to find as you type. Confirm the name of the location from the list and the app will zoom to it, and add a place pin, and give you the option to plot a route from that point or share that point with other. Tap anywhere else on the screen to just show the map.

If we can't find a match, we'll suggest the next best result. If there's nothing at all on the list, please check the spelling of your search.

The search uses your data connection. If you are offline search functionality will not be available.

How do I find map features, such as pubs or places to stay?

Places features will be introduced in a future release for the app. You can currently find them in the web version.

How do I see what the map symbols mean or get a map legend/key?

In the app go to 'Menu' and 'Map Legend' and choose the legend you require. You can also download a copy as a PDF from our web site.


How do I plot a route?

OS Maps route plottingTap on 'Create a route' in the app's main menu. Or if you prefer, tap on the location marker that shows where you are now and we'll give you the option to plot a new route. We'll also ask you if you'd like to plot a route when you search for a new location.

Choose a route type from the options. Your first tap on the map shows where you'd like to start, and a marker will be added. Carry on tapping on the map to create more waypoints. If you want to remove the point, use 'Undo' at the top of the screen. As you plot your route, you will see the distance, estimated time, ascent and elevation profile for your route so far.

Once you've completed your route, tap 'Save', and the last waypoint will be shown as the final destination. You can then name your route, add notes, set the difficulty and whether to mark the route as private or add it to the public routes list.

To keep the app simple, route plotting is deliberately fairly simple. For more advanced route creation and editing, use the web version - routes will automatically sync to the app.

How do I use snap-to-path route planning?

You need to be a subscriber to use the automatic snap to path route creation in National Parks. To start, change your map layer to 'Offroad Routing'. If you zoom out you will see the National Parks highlighted in pink - snap to path is only available in these areas. As you zoom in you will see individual roads and paths highlighted with pink to indicate they can be used. At the moment we have only created the path network for the National Parks. You can continue a route out of the National Park, but the snap to path feature will be disabled, and standard point to point mapping only will be active.

From the menu, select 'Plot a route'. Begin creating a new route as normal, selecting walking or running to use all paths, or cycling to limit your route to roads, bridleways and other suitable paths. The 'magnet snap' button will appear and default to on (blue).

Click on the map to create your first point – it will jump to the nearest road or path if needed. Now create your next point. It can be some distance from the first, and a new route will connect the two, following the shortest available valid route.

Snap routing will always follow the shortest suitable path, which may sometimes take you along busy roads or other places you would rather avoid. Use points on junctions to control the path.

If you want to plot a section of your route that does not follow a recognised path, you can easily turn off the snap to route option. Click the ‘magnetic snap’ button so that it is no longer coloured, and your points will stay exactly where you drop them, connected with straight lines. This is ideal if you are planning a walk across open country or to reach a specific peak that does not have a path.

At the moment, you can only plan routes using snap routing on the 'National Parks pathways' map layer. However, you can switch to other mapping at any time using the map layer selector. Routes created using the snap tool can be saved in the same way as a normal route.

How do I find my saved routes?

From the menu, when you are logged in, select 'Routes'. 'My Routes' displays all the routes you have created, while 'Favourite Routes' shows routes created by others which you have marked as favourite. All the routes are automatically downloaded to your device.

Tap on a route name to view it on the map. Tap on 'download' to download the mapping required for that route, or 'Options' for additional options, such as deleting a route.

Can I see the routes created on the OS Maps browser version?

There is automatic two-way synchronisation between the app the desktop version for your routes and your favourited routes. When a data connection is available, all routes you have created on the desktop version will synchronise to your mobile device and will then appear in your routes library, even when you are offline. Similarly, routes created on your mobile device using either the record function or the route planning function will appear on the desktop version of OS Maps so you can review route details or print maps.

Favourite route work similarly, and will be visible on any device where you are logged in.

How do I record a route?

In the menu choose the ‘Record a route’ function, choose the route type and click the ‘Record’ button to start. You can pause a recording as needed. To save the route to your routes library, click the stop button and confirm to save the route in the same way as normal.

You can also hit the 'X' cancel button to stop recording and discard the route.

Why does my route recording stop or only have a few waypoints?

To save power, many devices will reduce the availability of GPS data to an app that is in the background, or when the screen is off. This means instead of allowing waypoints to be saved every few seconds, we can only record your position every few minutes, or when you turn the screen back on.

Most devices that do this have a way of disabling it. This may be turning off 'Save power on background apps', enabling an option called 'allow background apps access to detailed location' or similar. If you experience this while recording routes, search your devices power settings for options.

How do I export a route as a GPX file?

You need to be a subscriber to export a route as a GPX file. Find the route from your routes list, select 'Options' and 'Export'. This will generate the GPX file, and you will be able to send it to email, message or other destinations, depending on apps installed.

How do I import a route from a GPX file?

You need to send the GPX file by email to your device. In your email, click on the attached GPX file and choose to open with OS Maps. The file will be imported and shown as a route. Alternatively, you can use the desktop version of OS Maps to import the GPX file and the route will appear on your device as soon as it is synchronised.

Newer versions of iOS have changed slightly. Clicking on a GPX file will show the file contents. Tap the share button in the top right, then choose share with OS Maps app to trigger the import function.

Can I show routes in miles not kilometres and vice versa?

Yes. Select Menu, 'Preferences' and 'Units and measurements' and to select what you'd like to see.

We use the units together, so you can't mix miles with metres for example, or kilometres with feet.

Why is the estimated time for my route too fast or too slow?

We use your average speed for walking, running and cycling to calculate the estimated time. You can change this in Menu, 'Preferences' and then 'Calculate Route Times', and then input any values you like. Your settings for average speed are also shared with the desktop browser version of OS Maps, and any other devices using the same account.

For walking, we also use Naismith's Rule, which adds 10 minutes for every 100 m of vertical ascent. There is no adjustment calculated for descents or difficult terrain.

These times are only estimations and will vary considerably depending on individual abilities, local conditions and weather.

How do I find routes that other people have created?

OS Maps find routes buttonClick the 'Find Routes' button in the bottom right (or Menu > 'Find routes'), and select an activity type. Click 'more options' to see filters for difficulty, distance, user rating and Premium only, then click 'Show me routes'. You will see markers shown on the map in the currently viewed area showing route start points. Click on a marker to see the route details.

Once you have finished searching for routes click the 'Discover Routes' button again to turn off the route pins - the button will revert to grey.

You will need to have a data connection to search for routes, but you can turn it off once you have started using the 'follow' function, or have tagged a route as 'favourite'.

For more advanced route finding features, use the web version, tagging the routes you find as 'Favourite' so you can easily find them in the app.

How do use make a route I've found available offline?

Your own routes are automatically saved for offline use. To save a route you have discovered for offline use in the web or app, mark the add the route to favourites using the button in the route description. In the app, you will need to pull the route information panel up to see the button, then tap it to add to favourites. Favourite routes will show up under 'My Routes' in both web and app, and will also automatically download for offline use on the app.

You will not automatically download mapping, so either ensure you have the area as an offline download, or download all the mapping for the route by using the 'download' button in the routes list before you head out.

How do use Favourite routes?

Once you have found a route that you like, pull up the route information panel and click 'Add to favourites' at the bottom. On the web version, open the route information panel on the left and click 'Add to favourites'.

Favourite routes will show up under 'My Routes' in both web and app, and will also automatically download for offline use on the app.

You will not automatically download mapping for your favourite routes, so either ensure you have the area as an offline download, or download all the mapping for the route by using the 'download' button in the routes list before you head out.

How do use edit a route I have found?

You cannot edit a route created by someone else, as they are still the route owner, even if you add it to favourites. However, what you can do is create a copy of the route.

  1. Open the app or web version and find the route
  2. in the route panel, select the 'export GPX' option. In the app, this will allow you to email the file to yourself. In the web version, save the file to your computer
  3. Open the web version and log in if needed. Only the web version has the advanced tools for route editing.
  4. If you emailed the file from the app, switch to your computer, open your emails and save the file locally
  5. Open 'Routes' then select the 'Import GPX' option.
  6. Select the GPX file from your local computer. On most, this will mean looking in 'Downloads'
  7. Import the GPX file to create a new route. We recommend making it private to prevent creating duplicate routes
  8. You can now edit the route as normal. It will sync across to the app next time you start the app
Can I change the colour, thickness or transparency of my route on the map?

OS Maps route options buttonYes. While plotting or editing a route, click the ‘options’ button in the bottom left corner. Set your preferred route options, then hit ‘Done‘. Changes will be saved when you save the route, and will be synchronised with the web version.

You can also set the default route style for all routes viewed on the device, which is used when no specific route options have been set. Go to Menu > My Preferences > Route Styling to set a default route style. Default route styles are not saved with the route, and so do not sync to the web or other devices.

How do I use the Tabletop 3D feature?

Tabletop 3D is a new augmented reality feature that allows you to see your route on a virtual 3D model of the terrain on the iOS version. To use it:

  1. Open a route of your own or one you have found - mountain routes work best.
  2. Pull up the route panel and click 'Tabletop 3D'.
  3. Point the camera at a clear, flat surface and allow it to 'lock on'. If you don't have a clear table the floor will do.
  4. Once the square appears on the surface it has locked on. Click the 'Place Model' button at the bottom of the screen to start AR mode.
  5. Try moving around the 3D model. Use pinch to zoom, one finger to move the model and two fingers to rotate the model. Moving the device around and upd and down will adjust the view.
  6. End Tabletop 3D by clicking X to close

At the moment Tabletop 3D is only available in the latest release of the iOS version of the app.

My Activities

How do I use My Activities?

Start the 'My Activities' distance counter by selecting it from Menu, 'My Activities'. It's designed to make it as easy as possible to keep track of how far you’ve walked – even if you forget to record a route while walking. There are three different ways to add an activity:

  1. Record a route: at the end of recording you’ll be asked if you want to add the distance to your activity record
  2. Follow a route: once you’ve followed a route you’ll be asked if you want to add the distance to your activity record. It will log the distance of the planned route, not the actual distance covered
  3. From 'My Activities', select 'Add an activity' and select a route from your route list that you have done, and enter the date. You can also plot a new route and add this.
What happens if I use more than one device?

Your activity record syncs across web, Android and iOS version of OS Maps – you just need to be signed in with the same OS Maps account. You can find the My Activities Section under the main menu on OS Maps mobile, and the user menu on the top right of OS Maps web.

Paper map downloads

Do all maps have a digital download?

OS Paper map with downloadAll OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) series paper maps have a digital download included. Mobile downloads are not available for OS Tour maps or Historical Maps. You can identify the maps with mobile download by the blue ‘Includes mobile download’ badge on the cover.

Do I need specialist software or an app?

Yes, you'll need to install the OS Maps app. You can get this from Apple Play Store or Google Play; it's absolutely free and doesn't take long to download.

You can't download these maps to a computer. For this, please look at OS Maps online Premium. For OS maps on your GPS device please check with the device manufacturer.

How do I activate the code on my map?

You have to redeem the code on the website using the same account as used on the mobile device. Follow the instructions on the page to claim your download.

Once redeemed, that code is locked to your account, and cannot be used again. However, you can download the map to any device where you are logged in.

How do I download the map to my device?

Follow the instructions here to redeem the map code and attach it to your user account. Make sure you login with the same email address you use to login to the app.

Map download listMap downloads for paper maps, custom selections and switch to show on the overview map
Paper map downloads listPaper map downloads list. Green is available offline, grey can be downloaded
Downloaded and available mapsGreen area is downloaded map, grey is one available to download (iOS only)

Go to Menu, 'My offline apps', 'Paper maps' to see the list of maps redeemed against your account. Tap 'Download map' to download that specific map to your device.

Tips for offline Paper Maps:

  • Logging out of the app will remove all existing downloads, as they are tied to the user, not the device. Check you have the downloads you need before heading out, and do not log out in normal use.
  • Downloading many maps at once can cause issues, overloading your device and causing slow response or crashing when you try to view maps. Delete maps you are not currently using to both save storage space and improve app speed. You can always download them again later.
  • The total number of maps you can have at once depends on your device and other apps installed.
  • When you have just redeemed a new map, it may take a few minutes to show up in the app. Close the app and wait for a short while before checking again.
  • If a download gets 'stuck', restarting the app will usually resolve it. Sometimes you may need to log out and back in to clear all downloads and tray again.
How do I view my downloaded paper maps?

Go to Menu, 'My offline apps', 'Paper maps' to see the list of maps redeemed against your account. Tap a map name to open the map and view it.

If you are not a Premium user, you will not be able to switch to the leisure map layer from the main map screen, but need to use the method above - we are working on making this easier

How can I see which map areas I have available or downloaded?

In Menu 'My offline maps' and 'Paper maps', maps you have already downloaded will show a coloured bar and 'Map downloaded' under the name. Maps available to download will show with a grey bar and are marked as ‘Not available offline’.

On iOS only, under 'My offline maps' you can turn on ‘Show offline areas on map’. Return to map view and zoom out. Offline areas will show with a green highlight. Maps available to download (but not currently downloaded) will show as a grey highlight. Turn the function back off to revert to normal. (For Android only the list of downloads is available at the moment)

Can I download the same map to more than one device?

Yes. You can download your map to multiple devices, as long as you log into OS Maps using the same account details. Our terms state that each map should only be on one device at a time.

What happens if I delete a map or change my phone?

Maps you have purchased and redeemed the code for are stored against your account in the OS Shop. If you delete the map, change your phone or even switch between an Android device and an iOS one, you will still have access to your maps. In the OS Maps app please ensure you log in with the same username and account as you use on this site and the list of available maps will be shown under 'My Maps'

This means that you may want to add a map just for a trip or holiday and then delete it afterwards to save space, with the knowledge that you can download it again at any time.

Will my map update with any changes automatically?

No, the digital version you've downloaded will match the version of the paper map you bought.

Does the area of the download exactly match the paper map?

As of version 2.0 of the app, the new downloader system means the area will not match exactly. We have 'rounded up' so you will generally get slightly more than the extent of the paper map.

How will I know if my map is out of date?

Check the OS shop website to see when we issued the latest version. It is listed under 'Specifications' in the product description, and compare this to the publish date on your paper map that you got the code from.

What if my map code doesn't work?

Please check that you have entered the code correctly. The codes are all letters, and are printed all in upper case. If your code still does not work please contact customer services.

What account details should I use in the OS Maps app?

The app uses the same login details as your OS Maps online account or OS Shop account. You will have access to additional features if you are a Premium subscriber. By using the same account in both the app and desktop we can help you keep track of your maps and automatically synchronise your saved and favourite routes.

What if my map does not have a code?

Only maps with the 'Mobile Download' logo on the cover will have a code. Look for the silver scratch-off panel on the inside cover, and scratch this off to reveal your 12-letter code. If this is already scratched off it may already have been used - please return the map to the retailer for a new copy with an unused code, or contact us for help.


Why do I need to subscribe?

Subscribing gives you access to the OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) mapping for the whole country and the ability to download any section of map for use offline. Your subscription also gives you access to extra features of OS Maps app and web versions, including more advanced route planning tools, Aerial 3D mode, National Parks snap to path and larger prints.

How do I buy a subscription?

You can purchase a subscription in the app or through this website - see the subscription options here. To make a purchase in-app, select 'Go premium' from the menu and choose a subscription length. You will be asked to log in to iTunes to confirm the purchase.

Some subscription types are automatically recurring until cancelled, while others are for a fixed period.

Why do I not have Premium features when I've bought a subscription?

The most common reason for this is that you have two separate accounts. Check Menu 'My Account' and confirm that the email address is the same one you used for the subscription when you purchased it on the web, or the same one that is tied to the purchase in the App Store or Play.

If you purchase in-app, it can take a few minutes for your subscription for the web version or on other devices to catch up.

If you are still unable to access Premium features please contact customer services.

How do I cancel a subscription?

If you have purchased a recurring Premium subscription through the web, you can cancel your next renewal at any time on your My Account page on the OS Shop.

If you have subscribed through iTunes or Google Play in the app, you can cancel from your mobile device or from the app store on web.

From an Apple mobile device:

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > iTunes & App Store
  • Select your Apple ID at the top of the screen
  • Select View Apple ID.
  • Select Subscriptions, and then the subscription for OS Maps
  • Select 'options' to manage your subscription. You can choose a different subscription length, or 'Cancel Subscription' to cancel. As subscriptions are taken in advance, your subscription will continue until end of the current period.

For Apple iTunes subscription from a Mac:

  • Open the App store App
  • Select your Apple ID at the bottom of the sidebar
  • Select 'View Information' from the top of the page
  • On the Account Information page, scroll to Manage. To the right of Subscriptions, click 'Manage'
  • To the right of the OS Maps subscription, select 'Edit'
  • You can choose a different subscription length, or click 'Cancel Subscription' to cancel. As subscriptions are taken in advance, your subscription will continue until end of the current period.

For Apple iTunes subscription from web:

  • Open iTunes in your web browser
  • From the menu at the top of the iTunes window, choose Account > View My Account
  • Scroll to the Settings section
  • To the right of Subscriptions, Click Manage
  • To the right of the OS Maps subscription, click Edit. You can choose a different subscription length or select 'Cancel Subscription'. Your subscription will continue until end of the current period.

For a Google Play subscription from your mobile

  • Open Google Play Store app and select ‘My Apps’
  • From the top menu, select 'Subscriptions'
  • Select the OS Maps subscription
  • Select 'Manage' and ‘Cancel Subscription’ to stop your auto-renewal subscription. Your subscription will continue until end of the current period.

For a Google Play subscription from your web browser

  • Open Google Play subscriptions on the web.
  • From the left menu, select 'Subscriptions'
  • Select the OS Maps subscription
  • Select 'Manage' and ‘Cancel Subscription’ to stop your auto-renewal subscription. Your subscription will continue until end of the current period.
What happens if I buy a subscriptions through the app and the mapshop?

Your newly-purchased subscription will extend any existing subscription no matter where the subscription is purchased from. This means if you renew early you won't lose out.

What happens if I change phone while I have an active subscription?

If you have an OS Maps account, simply log in on your new phone and your subscription will be carried over, along with the rights to any paper map downloads (although you will need to download them to your device memory). This will work even if you switch to an between Android and iOS.

I have bought a subscription - why can't I see the routes i have created on web on my mobile? (or vice versa)

This is because:

  • Your device does not have a data connection, so is unable to sync routes.
  • You may be using two different usernames (logins) for web and app. Wherever possible, please use the same email address to log in to each account as otherwise we will not be able to sync your routes or
  • You may be using an older version app. Please upgrade to the latest version.
What happens to my content once my subscription expires?

You will receive a notification before your subscription expires. To ensure no effects, please renew before your current subscription expires. Any remaining time will be added to your new subscription.

If you choose not to renew your subscription, you will lose access to the subscriber-only features such as additional map types, Aerial 3D and GPX file exporting. Additionally, the following will happen:

  • Your routes will still be available in the app and web
  • Redeemed paper map downloads are retained and are still available in the app
  • Saved offline maps not based on paper maps are deleted

Subscriber downloads

How do I save maps for offline use?

Subscribers to OS Maps can download mapping for any part of the country for offline use.

There are two methods

Method 1: download a map for a route

  • Go to Menu 'My Routes' to show your current list of saved or favourite routes. Underneath the route, you will see a links that says ‘Map available to download'. Click this to download then choose an available map type .
  • A square section of map is downloaded that’s big enough to contain the entire route. It’s available even when not following the route, even if you are just browsing the area.

Top Tip: download a large area by creating a dummy route that extends from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the area needed. You only need two points. It’s ideal for grabbing a large section of map when you have planned a number of walks in one area - but be careful of the file size.

Map download from a routeDownloading a map for a specific route
Green area showing map downloadedGreen highlight shows mad downloaded to cover the route
Creating a dummy route to download a large areaCreating a dummy route to download a large area
Dummy route in routes list with map download optionDummy route in routes list with map download option
Green shows large map area available offlineGreen shows large map area available offline

Method 2: download an specific area

  • Select Menu, 'Offline maps' and 'Custom offline maps', then click the 'Add a custom offline map' button. Find the area you want to download, and zoom in until the button changes to 'Download'. Your download will cover the area on screen, plus a margin in each direction, and in the current map scale. Click the ‘Download’ button to start the download.
  • Name the download and click save in the top right. You can continue to download additional sections to cover a larger area. as needed. Click the 'cancel' button in the top left to cancel the download mode and return to normal mapping.
  • Downloaded maps will appear in Menu, 'Offline maps' and 'Custom offline maps' with the name you set. You can delete them when no longer required to save storage space.
Map download modeOS Maps in download mode
Naming a map downloadNaming a map download

Downloading large areas of the country or having many smaller downloads can cause issues, overloading your device and causing slow response or crashing when you try to view maps. Delete any downloaded maps you are no longer using to both save storage space and improve app speed.

The total size of downloaded maps you can have depends on your device and other apps installed.

How do I see what offline maps I have downloaded?

In Menu 'My offline maps' and 'Custom offline maps', you can see a list of maps you have already downloaded.

On iOS only, under 'My offline maps' you can turn on ‘Show offline areas on map’. Return to map view and zoom out. Offline areas will show with a green highlight. Maps available to download (but not currently downloaded) will show as a grey highlight. Turn the function back off to revert to normal. (For Android only the list of downloads is available at the moment)

You can also turn on ‘airplane mode’ to ensure the maps have downloaded successfully and cover the area needed.

How do I remove a downloaded map?

If you need to free space or no longer need a specific area, find your map in Menu, 'My offline maps' and 'Custom offline maps' then choose the ‘Remove map’ option. To delete a map for a route, find the route in your routes list and click 'Options' then the 'Remove map' button.

Can I update a downloaded map?

Not automatically. Delete the downloaded map and then download that area again. You will need a data connection to do this.

Why have I lost my downloaded maps?

The most common reason for this is because you have used the ‘Log out’ feature. As all downloads are linked to your OS Maps user account, they will be deleted if you choose to log out. As long as you do not log out of OS Maps, you are free to power off your device at any time.

Your downloads may also be lost if your subscription expires, and your downloaded maps are subscriber-only map types. To avoid this, ensure you renew your subscription before the end date.

You may also lose maps if you update the app and the new version is not compatible with your existing downloads, but we try to avoid this. If you are planning to use the app offline we suggest you check your downloaded maps list after running any updates.

Other features

How do I find my current location?

OS Maps locate me buttonUse the ‘locate me’ button to jump directly to your location. This will use the GPS signal to find your location as accurately as it can. If your device does not have a GPS chip, if GPS is disabled or there is no signal (such as in a building or near tall cliffs) this will not work. While the icon is blue, the map will centre on your location.

OS Maps uses the location as provided by your device. Ensure that the location settings are turned on, and the app has permission to access them. If the device is unable to show the exact position, it may show an approximation based on the nearest mobile phone mast, WiFi access point or last known position. For some devices, you can force it to only show the position from the GPS chip by going into Phone settings > Location > and setting it to GPS only.

It can take a couple of minutes to get an accurate GPS position, especially if your have just turned on the location functions - speed it up by remaining still with a clear view of the sky. Once the device has your initial location, it is able to update it much more quickly.

If a clearly incorrect location is shown, often waiting a few moments or clicking the 'locate me' on and off will force the device to update your location.

How do I stop the map scrolling back to my current location?

OS Maps locate me buttonClick the ‘locate me’ button at the bottom right until it is grey to turn off the automatic centre function. This is most useful when scrolling around to view an area.

How do I use the compass?

Click the compass button to activate the compass. On iOS, tap the locate button until the compass is shown. This will show the heading at the bottom of the screen. Mobile phone compasses tend to be very inaccurate until they are calibrated. Use an external calibration app or, with the compass active, wave the phone in a figure-eight shape for 30 seconds to improve accuracy.

Not all devices have a built in compass. If your does not, the compass bar will show, but won't change as you move your device.

How do I use AR mode?

OS Maps AR  buttonClick the AR button and hold your device up to the horizon. Look at your screen to see the current camera view with points of interest labelled. Click the button again to turn it off, or the options button to change settings.

How do I find my Grid Ref or Lat/Long?

Press and hold on the map at the point you wish to display the grid ref for. A map pin will be dropped with the Grid Reference, Northings and Eastings and the option to plot a route from that point or share that location using any compatible messaging apps.

How do I share my current location?

Press and hold on the map at the point you wish to share. Select 'Share' and choose from your installed apps to share the location as a link to the OS Maps web version. This linked can be opened by anyone, even if they do not have OS Maps.

Why do I not have the AR button?

AR features will be disabled if you do not have a GPS chip, a compass (magnetometer) and motion sensor installed. Some Android devices, such as Motorola 'Moto' and Huawei P10 phones do not have a compass so cannot use AR features. Some Samsung models have camera systems that are incompatible with the AR viewer, so AR functions is disabled at the moment.

Why can I not see anything in AR view?

OS Maps ARWhen you start AR for the first time you will be asked to set it up by downloading the set of points to your device. Until this is done you will not be able to use the AR feature. You will need a data connection to do this the first time, but after that AR mode will work offline.

You also need to hold the phone up to the horizon, as the motion sensor is aware of where the phone is pointing.

Why do the points in AR not line up with the features?

AR relies on two functions: GPS location and compass. Please ensure these are turned on and the app has permission to use them.

GPS location can take a few minutes to be accurate, especially if you have not used it in some time. Waiting with the app active will slowly give increased accuracy. If a GPS signal is not available, such as inside a building, AR may incorrectly estimate your location.

Your built-in compass needs regular calibrating in order to be accurate. In iOS Use the built-in compass calibration system by turning it on at Settings > Privacy >Location Services > System Services > Compass Calibration and then use the built in compass app to trigger calibration.

In Android, you can download a compass calibration app, or with the AR mode open just wave the device around in a figure-eight for around 30 seconds to improve accuracy.

If the compass is inaccurate, features will not line up in AR view.

Why can I not see a specific feature in AR?

OS Maps app AR settings buttonThere are over 200,000 points in the AR database, which means we cannot show every point at once. There is currently a maximum distance of 10 miles (16km). The app will choose which points to display based on how far away they are and their 'priority' score to ensure the screen is not overcrowded. Generally, closer features and more important ones will be shown. You can filter by clicking the settings button and choosing which types of features you are interested in, which may make more distant features visible.

How do I use the Route Follow function?

One you have a route on screen, one you have either created or imported, you can activate the follow function using the ‘follow route’ button.

This will warn you when you go off course. Click 'Route info' to show elevation profile and local sunset time.

Once you finish following a route you will be asked to rate it out of 5 stars, and whether to add it to your personal activity record log.

How do I see what the map symbols mean or get a map legend/key?

To save storage space, the map legends are not included in the initial app download but is downloaded the first time you open it, so you need an initial data connection. To find them go to Menu then 'Map legend' and choose the scale or layer you are interested in.

Personalisation and options

Can I get route distances to show in miles instead of kilometres, or heights to show in feet instead of metres?

Yes. Click on 'Menu', then ‘Preferences’ then 'Units and measurements' to switch between metric and imperial. You cannot mix metric and imperial.

How do I set the route colour?

OS Maps route line styleYou can set a route colour when you save or edit a route. Additionally, for routes that do not have a specific colour set, you can override it in 'Preferences' - 'Route Styling'. This allows you to set a colour that works with the map layer you are using.

Your preferred colours will also be used for Favourite routes.

How does the app calculate walking, running and cycling speeds?

Walking, running and cycling speeds are calculated based on an average speed set in your personal preferences. Change it by going to Menu, 'Preferences' then 'Calculate Route times' and enter separate values for the three activity types.

For walking routes only, the average speed is modified by Naismith's Rule, which adds additional time for going uphill. There's no adjustments applied for running or cycling, and there is no speed setting available for 'Other' type routes.

The time show assumes to breaks. Average speeds will also be heavily affected by the terrain. If possible, adjust your average speed figure for the type of terrain you cover most often to improve the accuracy of the time estimates.

Technical Questions

What data does OS Maps app use?

Viewing online maps, search, login, calculating route profiles, downloading maps and some other functions all require data, either Wi-Fi or over the phone network. Viewing a lot of map area or downloading maps can use quite a lot of data, so if you have a limited data plan we recommend using Wi-Fi where possible.

How does the app affect battery life?

Viewing maps uses the screen and mobile data (unless you are using offline maps), which will use the battery. Using GPS functions, including the locate me, route recording and route following features can also have a significant impact on battery life. We suggest turning these features off when you don’t need them.

Top tip: to maximise battery life, do not use the record or follow functions, as this requires the device to constantly update your location. Instead, show the route on screen, and check your position against the route manually. You may need to wait a few seconds after unlocking your device for the location to update.

To maximise battery life use your devices' built in power saving options by reducing the time to standby/sleep, turning down screen brightness, turning off WiFi and Bluetooth and using any other power saving features.

Where are downloads stored?

Offline maps download to where your device automatically saves content. This may be internal storage even when you have and SD card installed.

Can I store maps on an SD card?

Security restrictions inside the Android and iOS operating system prevent most users from saving downloaded or saved maps on to an SD card. However, if your device has insufficient space there are two possible ways to resolve this.

1. Android: Use an app. Some apps allow data that cannot normally be transferred to be moved to SD card storage. Success will depend on your exact device model and the app available, so test your offline maps at home as you may need to download your maps again or re-install the app if it does not work as expected.

2. Use an SD card as your devices internal memory. New with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and later, you can set your device to use an SD card instead of the internal memory. This is most useful where you have relatively small internal memory, and have purchased a larger capacity, high performance SD card. Not all devices are capable of this, as it depends on the manufacturer, but some general instructions are available on HowToGeek.