Memory Map: A User’s Guide – Part 1
Updated for Memory Map v6 – July 2019
I’ve been a Memory Map user for several years now and I’ve helped quite a few people get to grips with the idiosyncrasies of the program, because although it’s a Windows application, it doesn’t behave like one in several important ways. The help I’ve provided has spawned a parallel user guide to the one that’s provided by Memory Map – one that covers some of the issues that first time users come across and struggle to find answers for in the MM Help files and on-line manual.
I’ve decided to publish this guide on this blog and perhaps as a result, it will find use in a wider audience than it has so far. If anyone has any suggestions to improve this then please let me know, if I have made any obvious errors then tell me and if you’d like to contribute then either leave a comment or email me.
This guide covers the following topics:
- Adding Maps
- MM File Types
- License Management
- Getting Started
- Moving Around
- The Icon Ribbon
- MM Names and Terms
- Working with Routes
- Working with Tracks
- Working with Files (Overlays)
- Printing Maps and Routes
- 3D Maps (in progress)
- Exporting Data
- Importing Data
- iOS & Android Mobile Version
- Cloud-sync & Sharing Data
The Memory Map (called MM from now on) software is free to download. In what appears to be a change from previous releases, the new version is international. The previous versions of MM had a European Edition to support Ordnance Survey (OS) maps, but this latest version is just “Memory Map”. For those outside of the UK; Ordnance Survey maps are the ones typically used by hikers and walkers in this country.
The previous versions of this guide referred to both v5 and v6 software, but in recent months MM have removed the download links for the v5 software, so unless you downloaded it when it was available and saved the installer, you are pretty much stuck with v6. For most users this isn’t a problem, especially new users, but for anyone (like me) who spent years using v5 of the product, there are some big differences and it can be difficult to transition to the latest version.
A couple of useful links to MM resources are provided for reference:
MM UK Website: www.memory-map.co.uk/
MM Ordnance Survey Maps: www.memory-map.co.uk/maps-charts/outdoor
MM v6 Download: www.memory-map.co.uk/learn-more
The MM software itself is provided free, but it’s absolutely no use whatsoever without some maps. You can download some sample maps for free from the same download location as the software, but nothing usable of course. So what do we buy? The answer is the maps. You buy a right to use, on a restricted basis, the various maps available (including the OS 1:25k and 1:50k for UK walkers). Depending on what scale maps you want and how much area you want will determine how much the “software” as a whole costs you.
The OS maps for MM can typically be found everywhere, both on-line and in high street outdoor shops, or indeed direct from MM themselves. Prices vary wildly of course and the best advice is to shop around. I tend to buy from Amazon, unless I see a particularly good deal somewhere else on a map I currently need. Once you buy a map you have a license key for the MM software and future map purchases are associated with this license.
There are two types of MM maps – QCT maps and QC3 maps. Both types work with MM v5 and both types will work with MM v6, but you will need to purchase an additional license to use the QCT maps with the new version. I cover the differences a little later in this guide.
In the past couple of years prices of digital OS maps have plummeted, so it’s much, much cheaper to buy large areas of detailed mapping than it was. For example, when I first started using MM in 2005 it would have cost over £3000 to buy all the UK 1:25k scale OS maps. You can now buy them for under £100 (depending on the media you select). The new maps are much better quality too, using a much higer resolution that previously and allowing a much closer zoom without the image being unusably blurry.
Maps can be bought through Memory Map’s own Digital Map Store (DMS), but to be honest, if you’re going to buy the whole of the UK, get it on a USB Memory stick – it will save you a 30Gb download!
Although you probably won’t find them available anymore, please make sure you don’t buy an old MM v2004 map, as these won’t work with either the MM v5 or v6 software we are discussing here. MM v6 will read all your v5 files though, as OS seem to have changed their terms and conditions, so that we can continue to use the products we have purchased – not before time too!
Download the software (and register for a 30 day trial license if you wish) and install it on your PC – it’s a very simple installation – just follow the wizard and take the defaults unless you want to install it somewhere other than “Program Files”. Don’t worry about disk space at this point; the program is quite small. It’s the maps that take up all the room and you can store them wherever you like.
If you bought a MM v5 map from Amazon or eBay or Go Outdoors for example, then you probably have a DVD or USB stick with the maps on. If you have enough disk space, copy all the files from this media into a folder somewhere on your hard drive. If you‘re buying maps piecemeal, rather than the product for the whole of the UK, then it may be worthwhile creating a directory structure for them. I have a /MAPS folder and beneath that I have /EXPLORER and /LANDRANGER for the 25K and 50K OS map types. I also have /NATPARKS for the National Park maps I’ve got. In there I’ve got Lake District and Yorkshire Dales maps. Anyway I’m sure you get the idea.
💡 Tip! You will get much better map refresh times if you store you maps on an SSD drive.
If you don’t have enough hard disk space, you will need to keep swapping the map media in and out of your PC to read the maps – this can be a right pain! Make space if possible, or be selective about which maps you copy to the hard drive.
Once you’ve got the files onto the hard drive, run the program and select Map> Map List.. from the menu bar. The dialog box below will open. But yours will be empty!
Click the [Refresh Map List] button and this dialog box will appear.
Use the [Add Folder] button to navigate to the folder(s) you created and loaded the maps into.
When you have all the folders in the list click the [OK] button; you will be returned to the first dialog box and this will now be populated with the maps from your hard drive. You can double click one of these maps to open the map in the MM program. We will come back to maps shortly – in the meantime, lets look at MM file types.
MM File Types
There are four main MM file types, two map types and two supporting file types. The map files can be very big, much bigger than the other file types. Individual map tiles can be as small as 5-10Mb but the whole of the UK will take up considerably more – potentially, tens of gigabytes of space!
.QCT files are the older format maps. These have no copy protection on them, so you can share them with friends (although of course, you shouldn’t). They typically come in smaller sections, such as National Parks or regions. An average Explorer size sheet of mapping (such as the Lake District’s OL4) will take up 30-50Mb.
.QC3 files are the new format maps. These are protected by a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and it’s not easy to share them between computers, other than the 5 devices which you get a license for. See below for more on License Management.
.QED files are the files holding the elevation data for the maps. Elevation data is the data that provides the map with the height at any point on the map. When you load a map into the program you will see the height given against the mouse cursor as it moves around the screen. This is the data that allows for the 3D visualisation of our maps and for calculating the height gain of a route.
.MMI files are the database files that hold the names and references of searchable information on the map. MMI data is used when you search (CTRL+F) for a hill name or a town name etc.
There are two more important file type; both of these are data files – the ones you create or share:
.MMO files are Memory Maps proprietary data files, or Overlays as MM calls them. These can only be used in MM and aren’t even backwardly compatible to older versions of MM, so be careful not to save a v5 MMO file in v6, otherwise you will not be able to open it in v5 anymore. In v5 MMO were the default file types for MM, but in v6 we now default to GPX files……
.GPX files are much more transportable data files and the file format is ‘open’ and used by many different digital mapping programs. If you’re technically minded, they look a lot like XML files and can be edited manually, unlike MMO files.
The size of the data files depends on what you’re storing in them, but 3Mb is a very big file and will take a long time to load, even on a high spec PC.
You are allowed to install MM on two different PCs – for example a desktop and a laptop. You are also allowed to install on three mobile devices, perhaps an Android phone, an iPhone and an iPad. In order to install on one of these devices you need certain activation rights, which are given to you when you buy a map product. Buying more maps doesn’t give you more activation rights however.
When you install on a device, you need to connect that device to the MM server and register it, pulling down the appropriate activation rights at that time. Once you’ve used all your activation rights you can’t install on more devices, without ‘recovering’ or ‘migrating’ rights from an unused or retired device.
The system is a pain, especially as if you re-install Windows, or upgrade to Windows 10 (for example) as MM sees that as a new device.
License Management is done from the Help > License Management menu option in the desktop version of MM. From there the following dialog box is presented
This shows all the products on the PC that need a license. Use the [Sign in] button to login to the MM server with your details.
Once you’ve logged in you can Activate a product, provided you have sufficient activation rights left. Use the [Activate] button to do this.
If you don’t have enough rights you’re going to need to migrate or recover one from another device. Click the [Online Info] button to jump to the MM license management page on their website. This gives you an overview of the devices you’re installed on. It also allows you to re-use these.
Recover and Migrate do pretty much the same thing, but migrate moves the activation rights from one known device to another. It therefore requires you to have used MM on the new device, otherwise it’s not going to be in the list for you to migrate to.
Recover, simply removes a device from the list of activated licenses. Once it has connected to the MM server again, it will find it has had all its rights revoked and most of the MM features aren’t going to work – including the ability to open most of your maps.
The next part of this guide can be found here: Part 2 – Getting Started