Technology: Starting out with the Garmin Edge 800

Perhaps it’s only me, but I have had the most miserable of times starting out with the Garmin Edge 800 GPS system.  Something about the way Garmin write their user manuals just does not sit well with me.  After a few weeks of ownership I am still fumbling my way towards being comfortable with the Edge on my Apple Mac.  These lessons hard learned, may be useful:

  1. The Apple Mac does not always seem to ‘see’ the Garmin device.  For more reliable performance follow this procedure.  Turn the Garmin off.  Hold down the Lap/Reset button for 10 seconds while you attach the USB cable to the Garmin, or until you see the computer image appear on the Garmin screen and the disk image icon appear on the Apple Mac.  This forces the Garmin into, ‘mass storage mode’ and ensures communication between the Apple and the Garmin.
  2. I have had more success using the upload file facility from a third party site (I use, ‘Map my Fitness/Ride/Run’) than from the Garmin sites.
  3. Likewise, Map my Fitness gives much better control over the mapping tools for creating routes than the Garmin site tools do.
  4. When exporting a GPX file to the Garmin (connected as above) you have to save the file to the ‘New Files’ folder on the Garmin navigating to it via the Garmin disk image icon on the Apple Mac.  Disconnect the Garmin only after,’unmounting’ the Garmin by dragging the icon into the waste basket and waiting a second or two.
  5. Once disconnected, if you start the Garmin you will find the new route listed under the ‘Courses’ icon on the Garmin menu page.
  6. If you rename the GPX file for neatness, make sure you don’t add any odd characters or spaces.  If you do, the Garmin will not ‘see’ the file.
These lessons were learned only after many frustrating hours reading the manual and searching through the various Garmin forums.  I really cannot understand how a company as big as Garmin can produce such shoddy user documentation and software.
Update: It turns out I am far from alone!  This Garmin 800 Blog by Frank Kinlan seems to be attracting quite a bit of attention from equally frustrated users.  

12 thoughts on “Technology: Starting out with the Garmin Edge 800

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Alan and for this very useful link. The Edge 800 and I are rubbing along together pretty well these days, but I’ve visited your site (very impressive) and registered for updates so I will know where to come for advice in the future. All the best, Norman


  1. If you believed the reviews I doubt if you would ever buy a Garmin device, but I personally have found them reliable (with one exception when it froze and I lost all of my data). My latest is a Forerunner 310XT with heard monitor, bought for both running and cycling. It’s an older model, but still on the current listings and I am very pleased with it. I am wondering about getting the new Edge Touring model for my wife. Have you heard much about it Alan?


  2. We have just cycled around the world – 4 years with a Etrex and open street loaded. Not a problem, loved it. Now we are home and the price of the Touring has come down, so we bought one. What a learning curve! Trying to use basecamp was horrid, and so I am trying again, with Mapmyride. With your help, I may have cracked it and will no longer be routed through fields. We live in Musselburgh from where we do lots of small adventures now, mostly by bike. Warren & Esther


    1. Hi Ester and Warren, I’ll be delighted to think my post might have helped you get used to the Garmin – as I say, good hardware, but lousy software and even worse manuals. Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations your big trip – Chapeau! I am pleased to find your site and look forward to following you from now on. Norman


      1. We are now writing to Garmin almost every day – I will get basecamp sorted – it is rubbish trying to work with it. I would say I like a challenge – but why should it be one.


    2. Hello guys – thanks for the various links provided – I am also a very frustrated user of Garmin – still can’t understand that in today’s world of iPhones they are so backward. I think Strava are on the verge of taking this market by storm!


  3. You are right, it’s not much short of a disgrace. I have to be honest I just gave up on basecamp and moved on to other options. Via Michelin and Map my Ride are my favourite planning tools now and RunKeeper where I record trips and runs. Easy-Peasy and reliable and easy to use even on an iPad or iPhone while travelling.


  4. I just don’t know what’s going on at Garmin. I have followed your advice, and loaded four routes into the New Files folder. Nothing. I then copied and pasted them into the Routes folder. Now two of the routes show up, but not all four. I have added .gpx to the file names, and this makes no difference.


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