Changing the color/contrast of your Garmin map

The following article will focus on how to change the map colors on your eTrex using a Mac. 


Remember how as a kid you had these coloring pictures with little numbers which told you what color went where? TYP files are the map-coloring instructions for your eTrex. These files are merged (glued) into the maps that you download, so if you want to change the colors of the map, you first need to extract the TYP file from the map. All of the programs needed to extract and change TYP files are made for Windows (there used to be an online editor, but it was taken offline around 2014 or so). Luckily, you can change map colors if you’re on a Mac and do not have access to a Windows computer. You will download the Windows programs and run them on your Mac using additional software. Let’s go!

Look up which Mac OS version you have

To check your current version of Mac OS, click on the apple icon in the left top corner of the screen and pick “About this Mac”

  • If you are on Mac OS Catalina (10.15):
    • Option 1: install PlayOnMac​ (free)
    • Option 2: install CrossOver (paid with 14 day free trial)
  • If you are on Mac OS Big Sur (11.0 or newer)
    • Option 1: I am not sure if PlayOnMac works on Big Sur, but it doesn’t hurt to try, it’s free
    • Option 2: install CrossOver (paid with 14 day free trial)
  • If you want to run it on Mac OS Mojave or older (10.14 or older)
    • Option 3: install Wine ​

Download the tools

  • GMapTool to extract and merge TYP files (free software).
  • TYPViewer to change the looks of the TYP file (free software)
    • Please note that if you do not want to use TYPViewer, you can opt to use TYPWiz (Version 6 is paid, version 3 is free).

Install GMapTool and TYPViewer

Pick a map

Whatever option you choose, make sure you download a map that actually has a TYP file attached to it, unless you already have a TYP file you want to use. 

  • There’s world-wide maps available from Garmin OpenStreetMap. If you download the OSM style, you can include a TYP file (Mapnik). 
  • Maps from bbbike include TYP files (for example the Garmin Cycle one). This site is particularly suited if you want to download only a part of a country (e.g., south of France)
  • Maps from OpenTopoMap include TYP files and are good if you want to download an entire country at once (seems it’s EU only though)

Get your van Gogh on

Final step

Send your map art to your Garmin. Plug it in, open the Garmin map and copy/paste it there. Depending on the size of your map, it might take quite some time. Enjoy your new map!

One more thing…

There’s no affiliate links here. I do not have financial ties to any of the sites, services and/or devices mentioned on this website. I do not make money on anything mentioned in my articles. 

I’m not responsible if you take a wrong turn, get lost, get into an accident or ruin your GPS in any way. As always, navigating traffic means you need to pay attention to the road, not your GPS. I’d pick a wrong turn over being hit by a car any day, and you should as well. Wear a helmet. Stay safe!