The following is Help Documentation concerning basic browsing of OpenStreetMap
- 1 Browsing the Map
- 2 Sharing a link to the maps
- 3 What next?
- 4 Alternative map browsing options
- 5 Technical Details
Browsing the Map
Browse OpenStreetMap on the www.openstreetmap.org homepage. This viewer allows you to zoom in and scroll around our world map.
- To zoom in click the plus icon (1) in the top-right. This will zoom towards the center of the currently displayed map.
- Holding down shift while clicking zooms by three levels.
- You can also zoom in with your mouse's scroll wheel, by double-clicking on the map or by holding down the shift key and dragging a box over the area you want to zoom in on.
- To zoom out click the minus icon (2) in the top-right or use your mouse's scroll wheel. Shift-click also works here.
- To pan and scroll around simply drag the map with your mouse.
- To centre the map on the geolocation supplied by your browser click the arrow icon (3).
You will see a general coastal layout of countries at high zoom levels, but as you zoom in, you can find roads and all manner of other details which we have mapped out.
You can switch between two different "layers" offering different views of the same mapping data. Do this by clicking the layers icon (4)
The "Standard" layer is the default. "Cycle Map", "Transport Map", and "MapQuest Open" are alternatives. The styles look quite different. Which is better, is often a matter of personal preference. These views are rendered in different ways, although all of these use Mapnik software. Because the layers are running on different server infrastructure with different set-ups, one layer may be more out-of-date compared to another (recently mapped roads not showing up).
- See Notes
In the 'layers' sidebar (4), you can also tick 'notes' to view any notes which people may have placed on the map here. If there are any, you will see markers appear. Click the markers to read the notes.
To add a new note to the map, use the notes button (7)
The data browser
- See Data layer
You can link to any map display using a URL of the form:
- http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=[Zoom Level]/[Latitude]/[Longitude]&layers=[Layer code]
The layer URL parameter takes a special code representing your layer selection. The parameter is optional and if you leave it out, we will default to showing our "standard" map style. See Layer URL parameter for more information.
Your browser address bar (8) has the URL, and you can copy it from here for sharing e.g. by email. This should be automatically populated and dynamically modified as you pan around.
You can also use the 'share' panel (6) to access this type of URL or some additional options:
OpenStreetMap supports highly compact short URLs which can be generated from the 'share' panel (6). Short links are great for emailing, tweeting, and otherwise sharing map links in situations where a long URL can cause problems. They redirect to the longer type of the URL described above. Note that these short links are case sensitive and contain I, l and 1. In some fonts these characters can be difficult to distinguish. For more about how the feature works see Shortlink.
Adding a Marker
Another option on the 'share' panel is to share a map URL which will cause it to show a marker.
- Zoom/pan to the approximate area you require.
- Open the 'share' panel (6)
- Tick the "Include marker" box to add a marker.
- Pan the map or drag the marker, to position it precisely
- Zoom out (e.g. by clicking the minus button) if you wish to share a map of the wider area
- Select 'Link' or 'Short Link' in the right-hand side box
- Click into the URL box directly below the buttons, the URL will get selected automatically, copy the URL (e.g. by right click and "copy")
- Paste your URL into a new browser window to test it
- Paste your URL elsewhere to share it.
See also Question: How do I add a marker to a map? which lists some other options.
Other URL tricks
- Note that some URL parameters may not be supported long term. We offer no guarantees
The URL forms shown above will produce a map centred on the specified latitude and longitude. It is also possible to get a map that displays everything within a given bounding box.
- http://www.openstreetmap.org/?minlon=[Min Longitude]&minlat=[Min Latitude]&maxlon=[Max Longitude]&maxlat=[Max Laitude]&layers=[Layer code]
- http://www.openstreetmap.org/?bbox=[Min Longitude]%2C[Min Latitude]%2C[Max Longitude]%2C[Max Latitude]&layers=[Layer code] (note %2C is an encoded comma, per RFC 2396)
You can also combine the bounding box and marker. Example: http://www.openstreetmap.org/?minlon=22.3418234&minlat=57.5129102&maxlon=22.5739625&maxlat=57.6287332&mlat=57.5529102&mlon=22.5148625
It is also possible to directly ask openstreetmap.org to show a particular node, way or relation. Examples:
It is also possible to directly ask openstreetmap.org to browse details of a particular node, way or relation. Examples:
To get the full history add /history:
If you need a special version add /history#<version-number>
Once you've looked around our maps it's time to zoom in on your neighbourhood and try out that edit button (9). See Editing for more instructions, and also check out http//learnosm.org a nice documentation site for beginning editing.
Alternative map browsing options
If you need an alternative interface for basic map browsing...
- You may also search for List of OSM based Services.
Technical details about this map 'browsing' interface, are found on the "Slippy Map" page