I currently import a kmz file created in ArcMap 9 (via a very convoluted process using Google Earth) to my Garmin Oregon GPS. I do this so that I can view an aerial photo with town tax parcel map info and other specific features on my GPS. Due to a recent upgrade to Google Earth I can no longer use it on my (very old) computer. We plan to upgrade to ArcMap 10 in the not-too-distant future, and I'm wondering if this will solve my problem, or if I need to purchase a new computer. Does anyone know whether I'll be able to do this with ArcMap 10 and the Garmin Oregon GPS? Pointers to instructions would be much appreciated!

More about why I do this, and how: I work for a land trust, and often need to find boundaries on individual parcels of land. I sometimes can find either a shape file for the parcels or find the parcel information on Google Earth, but not often, so I go into ArcMap and create a .jpg, then go into Google Earth and add the .jpg as an image overlay. I then find the coordinates of the corners of the .jpg in ArcMap, add these to Google Earth, then click on Save Place As to create a .kmz file which I can move over to my Garmin Oregon device. It's cumbersome but it works (or did, until Google Earth stopped working on my computer!).

  • Have you not been able to export KML/KMZ directly from ArcMap 9 curently? webhelp.esri.com/arcgisdesktop/9.3/…
    – RomaH
    May 29, 2013 at 18:53
  • Hi Roma, I have been exporting them per the instructions on the Garmin web site, under Garmin Custom Maps: garmin.com/us/products/onthetrail/custommaps#fragment-2 If there is an easier way to do this I would love to know how to do it.
    – Joan
    May 30, 2013 at 19:19
  • Could you explain your workflow with a little more detail? Are you creating a KMZ in Arc, then editing in Earth, and finally moving it to your Garmin? Just edit your question with more detail please.
    – RomaH
    Jun 2, 2013 at 14:42
  • Roma, I explained the workflow a bit more above in my original comment...
    – Joan
    Jun 3, 2013 at 16:15

3 Answers 3


ArcMap 10.x has a tool for creating KML files directly. The kmz files created by the Map to KML tool in ArcMap 10 can be opened in Google Earth but do NOT work directly on Garmin GPS units. This is because the image format required by Garmin is JPG, and the image saved in the KMZ file is a PNG.

A workaround:

  1. Create your map document, then run the Map to KML tool in ArcMap. Be sure to save a Single Composite Image in your output.
  2. Unzip the resulting KMZ file to a folder (7-zip works for this without changing the file extension from .kmz to .zip). You should have two files: Composite.png and doc.kml after unzipping.
  3. Convert the Composite.png to a JPG and delete the original PNG file. The GIMP or ImageJ work well for this, but any image editor should suffice. Do not use Progressive format for the JPG.
  4. Edit the doc.kml file by dropping it on a Notepad window, and change the text Composite.png to Composite.jpg
  5. Re-zip the two files and change the .zip extension to .kmz
  6. Copy the KMZ file to the Garmin > CustomMaps folder on your GPS unit or SD card.

This process works on newer map-enabled Garmins such as the Colorado, GPSMap 78, eTrex 20 or 30, or similar units. Your mileage may vary.


There is a ArcGIS Tool for converting Maps into Garmin Custom Maps:



Have a look at GPSBabel, it's free and can convert between many different formats.

  • 1
    GPSBabel now comes with DNRGPS so I found out about a month ago.
    – TsvGis
    May 29, 2013 at 21:47
  • GPSBabel does not seem to transfer the map itself either, just data.
    – Joan
    May 30, 2013 at 19:22

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