Beginners' guide

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This Beginners' Guide will show you how to add data to OpenStreetMap. Translations are available in many languages which you can select from the table at the top of this page.

You need a computer connected to the Internet and some time to gather information and then enter it. A GPS unit and connecting cable are purely optional, but will be required if you want to collect data that way. Given the excellent (but sometimes outdated!) aerial photography available in the editors these days, a GPS is less important than in the early days of the project.

In a hurry?

If you just want to edit as soon as possible, visit, zoom to an area, and click "edit". (You'll need an account first). The default editor has a built-in guide that will explain the basics. You can also click the built-in "help" button at any time.

Once you're comfortable with the map, it's recommended you come back here and learn more details.

Navigate this guide

  • Use the linking boxes above to navigate the guide. The page you are on will be bold.
  • Alternatively, use the links in the footer to next or previous page.
  • You can safely skip "See also" sections, they are to show you where to seek for additional help
  • No need to hurry, you can return to this guide at any second with your questions

Alternative guides

  • - The learnOSM beginner guide provides very thorough step-by-step instructions (down to how to scroll a map). This is great for some, but others may find it too detailed and prefer this guide. It also is primarily about Humanitarian OSM Team-related mapping.
  • JOSM/Guide - If you want to use JOSM - a very powerful and versatile but also complicated editor. JOSM is available as standalone Java program.
  • introduction to Vespucci prepared by its authors. Vespucci is available as an Android application.
  • Go Map!!/Guide - An introductory guide to Go Map!! for beginners.
  • Welcome Mat - Are you with an organization making plans for OSM? Find what you need to know!
  • UN Maps Learning Hub - The UN Maps Learning Hub OSM Basics course provides both CC-BY-SA guides and quizzes to help you learn about the OSM project, the iD and JOSM editors, the geographic context of mapping, the OSM Tasking Manager, and how to map topographic features (places, residential areas, roads, waterways...). It embeds text, screenshots, GIFs, and videos, and can be downloaded as a pdf and video files for offline use. It is currently available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese. It is a MOOC based on Moodle and requires registration, but is free for everyone.