For the navigationally challenged, there's never been a better time for travelling. Anyone with an Internet connection can use Google Maps or similar services to locate specific businesses or destinations, and a portable GPS device can actively help you navigate to anywhere you need to go. It's especially helpful when you can locate the information you need on Google and then transfer it to your GPS device. Garmin collaborated with Google to streamline this process for users of its Nuvi devices and other compatible GPS navigation products.
Integration between Google's mapping products and Garmin's line of GPS devices relies on Garmin's Communicator software. This is a browser plugin that works with Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome on Windows computers, or with Safari, Firefox and Chrome on Macs. Communicator-aware websites use the browser add-in to transfer maps and other data to your GPS with varying degrees of manual input required. Garmin's own websites use Communicator to update devices, as do many navigation-oriented, third-party websites. Mac and Windows versions can be downloaded and installed from Garmin's website.
Connecting Your Garmin
After you install the Communicator plugin, you'll be prompted to close your browser and restart it to complete installation of the plugin. When it restarts, you're ready to use Google with your Nuvi or other Garmin device. Plug the supplied USB cable into your Nuvi and then into a free USB connection on your computer. Bear in mind that Garmin intended its Communicator software to work with USB-enabled GPS devices. You can use a serial-to-USB connector to connect between an older Garmin's serial port and the USB port on your computer, but it won't always work.
Finding Your Destination
Type the name of a business or other point of interest into your browser's search bar or a Google search window. A map usually shows up to the right of your first search result. If it doesn't, click "Maps" on the Google menu at the top of your search returns. Click the orange pointer for the business, and a box opens up on your map showing the business's details. Click the "More" link in the bottom of the box and then "Send." A box pops up, asking where to send the data point. Choose "GPS" and then select "Garmin" from the pull-down menu and click "Send."
As of the end of 2012, Google permits the transfer of waypoints or points of interest from Google Maps to compatible GPS devices -- but not complete routes. Garmin's website provides a listing of Communicator-compatible GPS devices, including the Nuvi 2555 and 2595 models widely sold at local electronics stores. Many older Nuvis, as well as Zumo, eTrex, air and marine GPS devices are also supported. The software changes rapidly. Over time, Google's menu options might vary slightly.
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