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:


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. UPDATE: Turns out MM stopped providing these High Definition maps in 2016! They tell me it was because users found the associated files too large to be used on mobile devices.

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.

Adding Maps

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!

Map List
Map List

Click the [Refresh Map List] button and this dialog box will appear.

Map folders

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.

License Management

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

License Management dialog box

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.

license management login dialog

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.

License Management Summary Screen
License Management Summary Screen on the MM Website

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.

License Management Migrate Screen
License Management Migrate Screen

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.

License Management Recover Screen
License Management Recover Screen

The next part of this guide can be found here: Part 2 – Getting Started

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23 thoughts on “Memory Map User Guide Pt. 1”

  1. I have about 20 maps associated with Memory Map. 90% of the time I only use the 1:25000 OS Map of North Wales. Is there any way that I can set this as a default Map? MM keeps switching to other maps as I perform various operations. There is, perhaps, some logic to the map choices that MM makes but it is annoying. For example if I am on the 1:25000 map and do a search MM changes automatically to 1:10000 street map. I’d wel come your thoughts. Thanks GH

    1. Graham, an excellent question and one of which I seem to recall raising with MM a few years ago. They told me that the app opens what it thinks is the most appropriate map, based on the content of the file being opened. For example, if you’re opening an MMO file with one short route in North Wales, it should open the 1:25k scale map of North Wales (provided the route doesn’t spill over into another map area, or fit nicely into a smaller scale map like the 1:10k street map). If you’re opening a file with lots of routes spread across the country it will open a larger scale map that can fit all of those routes onto it (so maybe the 1:250k road map). As far as I know (and I have looked) there is no way to set a default map – you have to live with the choice MM makes. There is a possible workaround that I tried for a while – but which inevitably proved to be more of a pain than the original problem, but maybe it will work for you….

      Go into your maps folder on your PC and move all the maps other than your 1:25k North Wales map to another folder somewhere on your PC. Then go into MM and goto Map > Map List > Refresh Map List and make sure that the only map you can see is the North Wales one. Now, when you load a file into MM it will only ever be able to load the North Wales map. If you need to load another map into MM, you can browse to the other map folder on your PC and double click the QCT file for the map (you could even add shortcuts to your desktop). It will load this into MM – but the view will jump to the centre of the map, so you may need to move to the location you need. As I said, it’s a bit clunky but it should work.

      In terms of the search issue, I think this is tricky and could depend on a number of factors. When you hit CTRL+F or when you go to Search > Find Place, MM looks in the folder of the map that is currently open for an MMI file. So if you’re in the North Wales 1:25k scale map it should look in that folder for the MMI file. I think it then open the smallest scale map file it can find for the location you’ve searched for – so it will present the 1:10k street map before the 1:25k scale OS map (I THINK!). So, moving the maps to another folder may fix this issue too.

      Let me know if this works, Stuart

  2. David Thornton

    I’m a long-term MM user, v6 on a Windows10 laptop, I also use a Garmin Oregon 600. I can export Tracks etc. from MM to the Garmin successfully, but can’t import from the Garmin to MM. Any suggestions?

    1. David, sorry I can’t help much with this one as I’ve never used a traditional GPS device with MM. Only ever exported to GPX and then imported that file into a navigation app on a phone. I doubt the MM site will have the answer either, but what about the Garmin site – do they have a support forum maybe?

      1. Charles Hebert

        I have a Garmin etrex 30x and use it to record tracks. I later connect it by cable to my PC. In File Explorer I navigate to Garmin/GPX/current, where I can see the tracks I have recorded. I copy the ones I want to a folder on my PC, and then can import them into MM. OK, it’s not a direct import, but it works well for me.
        I would imagine your Oregon 600 will work in much the same way. (I also record tracks using MM on my (Android) phone; they seem to be more accurate than the Garmin tracks! I have the Garmin mainly for recording tracks away from civilisation – the batteries last longer).

    1. Two ways to get a list of all your waypoints.
      1 – if they are all in a route then use the Route Card button to print the route along with all the waypoint names. The route card appears in a webpage and you can print from there.
      2 – if they are just a bunch of Marks with useful information, i.e. POIs then right click the Category and select Save As, and save them as a CSV, then print the CSV.

  3. The Cubot King Kong 3 works well with Memory Map. It has 64 GB of internal memory, is waterproof, has a big screen,big battery, has two SIM cards (or 1 SIM card and an SD slot) and 4G.and finds a signal very quickly. An earlier model which works well.
    The Defender which Memory Map market with the mapping on an SD card is not reliable.

    1. Richard, that’s really useful feedback and I wasn’t aware of the Cubot rugged device – it certainly looks interesting, especially the new model with the huge internal battery.

  4. Hi,
    MM5 and the Windows Mobile pocket PC version
    How can I get the routes I create in the MMv5 on the PC to show in the pocket PC version.?
    There is no feature to load overlays so I am stumped!

    1. Ahh, now you’re testing my memory! It’s been many years since I used the PPC version of MM. I certainly don’t think there was any sync mechanism, I guess you will need to manually copy the files between the PC and mobile device. A cloud storage account supported by both devices would probably be the best way – Google Drive maybe – no idea if the PPC supports that though?

      1. It seems there is a .mmo file in the MM install directory. called something like user_data.mmo.
        You have to replace this file with the .mmo file containing the routes (and other mmo info) that you wan to use.
        Best if it is a clean small mmo containing only the stuff you want as there are no facilities to show/not show individual tracks or routes

  5. Stuart, I really like your manuals for Memory Maps. I have an issue with exporting waypoints. I can ingest waypoint files from my Garmin 650T and display/edit the file in Overlays. But when I want to send the cleaned-up file back to the Garmin device it won’t recognize it. I save the MARKS firstly as a gpx file on my PC then push it to the device. This was the suggestion of tech support at MM. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks … ROB

    1. Rob, unfortunately, I’m not familiar with Garmin devices, but I know they (and other dedicated GPS devices) can be problematic when used with MM. My guess would be a file formatting difference that the Garmin doesn’t like. GPX is supposed to be an open-source file type, but it could be that the Garmin is expecting a different format to that provided. You could try GPSBabel, using it to translate the MMO file into Garmin format. Other than that, I don’t really have any suggestions, sorry.

  6. Hello,
    Perhaps you can help me, i am using MM V 2004 with all my tracks routes and overlays associated with it, i once accidently lost these and i do not want that to happen again,
    My question is if i upgrade to V5 can i move all my old tracks and routes to it, and if so how would i do that?
    Thank you for your time.
    Steve G.

    1. Steve

      It was a long, long time ago when I moved to MMv5, so memory fails me I’m afraid.
      However, I’m fairly certain that v5 will read v2004 files as it is backwards compatible.
      So if you install v5 and then import your v2004 files you should be OK.
      Your best bet may be to ask the same question on the MM Support Forum, which has a great response from other users and is also closely monitored by MM Staff.
      Be aware though that none of your maps will work in v5.
      The support forum is here: http://www.memory-map.co.uk/supportforum/

    1. Like Alan, I’m struggling with mm – frustrating as I’m sure it could be of great benefit, and fun to use

      1. If you have any specific questions please feel free to email them to me – or append to this post and I will try and answer them.
        I’ve been using it for many years now and find it absolutely invaluable.

  7. I’ve got MM Tracker working on my HTC Wildfire but I’ve yet to use it in anger so I can’t help yet. When I’ve got to grips with it I’ll see about sending you some info if nobody else gets there before me.

    1. I must admit I’d never heard of that product until you mentioned it. I don’t have an Android phone unfortunately, so that probably precludes me from testing it.
      I was considering including the MM iPhone app, but as it costs £20 and I refuse to pay that for a product I already own, that’s unlikely to make the list too.
      If anyone has MMTracker or MM on the iPhone and wants to submit a guide to me I will make sure it gets added.

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