I would like to have a keymap in QGIS as in ArcGIS Desktop. ArcGIS Desktop allows one to add two layers. You then load the main layer in the main map layout and another in the keymap and style them as preferred.

In QGIS, I load layers that I can group. Then on the layout, I create two maps (add two separate maps with different sizes). The main one and the key map. However, all layers loaded in the project shows up in the two maps added on the layout. How do I separate the two maps and style them accordingly. I tried to have two groups, style as prefered and then lock the key map, however after I reload the other layers, they still show on the locked key map.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Not a QGIS expert, but this quite-old-actually but hopefully-still-valid answer might be pertinent. gis.stackexchange.com/a/45188/9518
    – umbe1987
    Aug 1, 2019 at 14:56
  • 1
    As stated, you can lock a map canvas, so no changes in the displayed layers will show.
    – Erik
    Aug 1, 2019 at 15:01
  • That gave me an idea, I found the answer a bit unclear, however, In QGIS 3.6, select the map then under Item properties, go to Layers, you can then Lock the layers and their styles. Thank you. Aug 1, 2019 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


I personally prefer using the Map Themes to style the various maps, insets, etc.

For my keymap or overview map, I put a layer group into my list called Layout Overview Map containing an appropriate basemap (stamen terrain) and civil divisions styled and labeled as I want. I then ensure that all unwanted layers are in their off state EXCEPT the content I want in my Layout Overview Map, click on the icon, and then Add theme...

On the QGIS Layout, I insert a new Map, set the appropriate extent (zoomed to 110% of town boundary's extent), tick the box for Follow Map Theme and choose the Layout Overview Map, then go down to Overviews, add an Overview set to Main Map for the Map Frame, which will make a highlighted/shaded box to show the extent of the map view on top of my Layout Overview Map.

The Main Map can be set to use its own distinct Map Theme which you create in the same way as noted above.

You can even have a different theme for viewing/working with the map. In this way, a single project and layout can easily be used for many different purposes.


In QGIS 3.6, select the map then under Item properties, go to Layers, you can then Lock the layers and their styles. Here is the result, the main map left and keymap right, all styled differently enter image description here

  • 1
    The key phrase here is "Lock the layers and their styles". There's one checkbox to lock the layers, and a second checkbox to lock their styles.
    – csk
    Aug 2, 2019 at 18:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.