Category Archives: GPS

GPS Tip #3 – “Find Near”

A relative of mine was recently having some difficulty finding certain points of interest he knew existed in his GPS. Sometimes if you are searching for a hospital, for example, that is several towns away, there are so many other hospitals between you and your desired hospital that the list fills up before you see the one you’re looking for.

By default, Garmin will always search near where you currently are. You’ll get a list of places sorted from nearest to you to farthest away. One tip for finding these places is to use the “Search Near…” feature.

Click the Menu button (three horizontal bars) to view the Near... popup

By using the “Search Near…” feature you can search for places starting nearest to some other point of your choosing, whether that may be another city, a “favorite” Point of Interest you’ve already saved, or your current destination if you’ve entered one in. I find it easiest to try and locate known places by searching near the city it is in.

Search starting near a different city, a "Favorite" you're previously saved, or your destination.

Another useful application for the Near… function in browsing for places such as food or gas near another area such as your final destination. Perhaps you aren’t hungry yet or don’t need gas now, but you know you will when you arrive at your destination. You can use “Near…” to see what points of interest are available near your destination. Once you find what you’re looking for you can either start routing to that point right away just click on that point of interest and save it to your Favorites if you want to visit it later.

GPS Tip #2 – “Routing”

This may have been better if it were Tip #1, as I think it is essential to getting an understanding of how the GPS behaves and why it may do some of the things it does that seem confusing.

Tip #2 – “Routing” versus “driving around”.

There are essentially two modes you may find yourself in while driving with a Garmin GPS. You will either be (1) just cruising or driving around, or (2) routing somewhere.

Cruising/Driving around is easy to understand. You haven’t told the GPS to do anything, but it knows where you are and you can see the streets on the screen as you pass by them. This is nice if you just want a general awareness of your surroundings or wonder, “is there an outlet here?” or “what is the street two blocks over?”.

Here’s what the “home” screen looks like when you are NOT routing:

Garmin NOT routing

When you search for and find a destination in the GPS database and tap “Go”, the Garmin will then compute your route and draw it on the screen. You are now routing. There are a few other ways to tell that you’re currently routing:

  • The Garmin is bossing you around
  • You have a magenta line in front of your vehicle on-screen
  • On the “home” screen you have the option to “Stop” (routing).
  • Garmin Routing

Who cares?

Sometimes people don’t realize they are already routing somewhere, so when they put in a new destination and try to go to it, they get a screen like the following:
Garmin Via Screen

This causes confusion. “Why is it asking me this? What does it mean?”

Garmin is just saying that when you tried to go to your new destination, you were already routing somewhere else. Do you want to keep your original destination, but stop at your new destination on the way, or do you just want to scrap your original destination and route straight to the new one?

This is actually a pretty nice feature once you know how to use it. For example, you’re routing to Grandma’s house, 4 hours away. A couple hours into the trip you decide to check out what fast food is nearby at that moment. Once you choose your restaurant, select Go. Then just opt to continue to Grandma’s house by way of your fast food destination. Once you get to the restaurant, Garmin knows and will send you on to your next point.

Happy routing!

GPS Tip #1 – “Whole route” screen

I figure I’m asked enough questions about GPS that I may as well assemble some thoughts and frequently answered questions together in one space in a way that’s hopefully helpful to others. Even if it only gives me a place to go when I need to remember what I’ve told other folks already, I think it’s worthwhile to document some of this.

Here we go.
Tip #1 – What I call the “whole route” or “entire route” screen.

In my opinion this is one of the best kept secrets on the Garmin automotive units. Often what happens is you’re either routing from home to some unknown place, or your routing from unknown place “A” to unknown place “B”. You find your destination just fine, either by address entry or by category (hotel/restaurant, etc), but you still feel like you’re “flying blind”. In other words, you feel like you have to trust the GPS to take you to the correct place.

You’d like some confirmation it’s taking you “the interstate route” instead of the “back highway route”, for example. Sure, you can look at a list of each individual turn in the route, with pictures and everything, but wouldn’t a shot of the whole route in a “north-up” view be nice?

Introducing… the “whole route” screen:

Here the screen shows our entire route, going from Assisi, Italy to Pisa, Italy, by way of Florence.

To get here: After entering your destination and choosing “Go”, click the green bar at the top of the map page and then click “Show Map” on the next screen. You get a nice view from the beginning of the trip to the end and a little peace of mind.

Of course, once you’re here you can pan around the map or zoom into any part of the map to see more details anywhere along your route. In this case, we can observe how the route will take you around the northeast side of Florence, rather than the southwest side or straight through the middle.