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Does anyone know if there are any good methods or apps to access and download the metadata of OSM from desktop?

Many thanks!

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What exactly do you mean by "metadata of OSM"? The history of objects? The source tag? – neuhausr Jan 31 '12 at 14:17
please expand on what information - metadata – Mapperz Jan 31 '12 at 14:27
I am sorry that I didn't make the term metadata clear. What I want is actually the time when the data uploaded by specific users was downloaded and edited. Thank you very much for your kind reminding. – Yvan Jan 31 '12 at 18:15 has a changeset file you can download, which includes information about each change made to the database. Look for changesets-latest.osm.bz2.

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For inspiration, check out the blog posting "OpenStreetMap: a Year of Edits" by Derick Rethans ( He discusses how he got hold of the changes in the OSM data set that happened in 2011 and how he made a beautiful video out of it. Intrigued to learn what use you are investiging!

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If by "metadata" you mean vector data, then there are several ways to do it. But it depends on your needs.

These two ways allow you to specify a map area you're interested in (but the size of the area is limited):

  1. - choose "OpenStreetMap XML Data"
  2. Using Maperitive (see the first two steps).

If you need the whole world, download the planet.osm. You will however need a lot of HW resources, so good luck with that.

There are also extracts for countries/parts of countries on Geofabrik and Cloudmade.

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Thank you very much for your answers. But what I really mean about the term metadata is data about data which can be information about contributors who upload and edit the map. And here what I specially concern about is the time data which describes the uploading, editing and downloading time of the data. Still, as an OSM newie, I have been benefited a lot from your answers about vector data retrieving techniques. – Yvan Jan 31 '12 at 18:22

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