Using GPS Technology With Your Personal Computer

Add a receiver to your PC to expand its capabilities

Most smartphones are GPS capable now, but few personal computers or laptops are. It is relatively easy to add GPS technology to a PC using a GPS receiver. Once you do, there are certain things you can do with your computer and GPS that will make your digital life, and life in general, a bit easier.

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Use Your PC to Update GPS Maps

Keep your maps and other data on your GPS up to date. Most dedicated GPS devices come with a USB connection. With this, you can download the latest roadmap and other data as needed. Many manufacturers allow you to purchase, download, and install supplemental maps that go beyond the base maps that came with your device.

Plot Routes, Analyze Data, and Keep a Log

Plot routes before you depart and then download and analyze trip data when you return. GPS receivers may come with mapping software that permits you to plot a route on your personal computer before you depart, and then transfer it to your GPS device. This is especially useful for day hiking or backpacking when used in tandem with detailed supplemental topographic maps.

When you return from a trip or workout, you can transfer your trip data to your computer mapping software to analyze and graph the data. Storage and analysis of workout data and creating a digital, high-tech training diary is especially useful for athletes.

Use Your Laptop as a GPS Device

Use your laptop computer itself as a GPS navigator. Purchase a laptop-specific GPS receiver and link it to your laptop by USB or a Bluetooth wireless connection. Laptop GPS devices and software are affordable and easy to use.

Try GPS-Enhanced Online Services

Use your personal computer with GPS-enhanced online services. Most online digital photo services let you attach GPS location data to your photos. These photos are keyed to a map, creating location-based photo galleries.

Another type of online service lets you upload route and other data, such as elevation or heart rate from your GPS, and map it to share with friends, family, coaches, or the internet. Sites such as Garmin Connect help you manage and display route and training data.

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