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Available languages — FAQ
For reasons behind OpenStreetMap, see Why OpenStreetMap?.
For questions about www.openstreetmap.org, see Browsing.
For password recovery, account creation, account policy, see Account at www.openstreetmap.org.
For License, see Open Database License.
For Legal aspects, see Legal.
For Developers, see Develop.
For Modelling questions, see Map features.
For other uses, see How to contribute.
For list of the editors and their pages, see Editors.

In addition to this FAQ, there is a collaboratively edited question and answer site where you can read more questions about OpenStreetMap and ask your own. Feel free to contact the community as well.

Is it OpenStreetMap or Open Street Maps?

OpenStreetMap is the correct spelling. One word, three capital letters, one map. OpenStreetMap is also a Trademark.


Your best option may be making the data available to the community and if someone is interested they can proceed with the import process.

What images and maps may I use to make maps from?

Most maps have copyright restrictions. This includes any data from "free beer" sites as Google Maps and Wikipedia and printed paper maps, even if you scanned them yourself. Most Commercial aerial/satellite photography is also copyrighted.

You should not use copyrighted maps in any way while editing OpenStreetMap (unless it is compatible with our license). "Using" includes tracing over the map, copying a name from the map, or pinpointing a coordinate on the map. To be on the safe side, we tend to regard all of these as a form of copying, or "creating a derived work". Generally speaking, it's best not to even look at copyrighted maps while you are editing OpenStreetMap.

So what can you use? Not very much, which is why we are doing all this re-surveying from scratch. However OSM has permission to use some Datasources including imported TIGER data in the USA, AND Data in the Netherlands, and recent aerial imagery from Bing and Mapquest.

Why is the satellite imagery low resolution? Is there other satellite imagery that I can use that has more detail? Can you update it? How often is it updated?

The Aerial Imagery is from a variety of sources that we have permission to use - Bing and Mapquest are the most popular and have the largest coverage. The resolution and age of the imagery varies, and it is not updated on a regular basis. You may even notice the age and quality of imagery from same source may be different in your town. See Aerial Imagery for more details. OSM neither controls nor owns the satellite imagery so we cannot request updates.

How do I track edits of a region?

See the list of various tools at Quality assurance#Monitoring Tools.

Using OSM maps and data

Main article: Using OpenStreetMap

How can I display maps on my website?

Read Getting Started With Leaflet on switch2osm.org

How can I extract information [e.g. POI's] from OpenStreetMap (like a list and location of all of the Churches in a certain area)?

  • If you want a large batch of POIs, download planet.osm or an extract and then use software that processes OSM data (e.g. osmosis) to extract your desired information.
  • Or use the API. See getting poi data from OSM for a more detailed explanation.

How can I download this data and put it in my GPS?

If you have a Garmin unit, see OSM Map On Garmin. Several users provide ready-made Garmin format maps for you to download and copy to your GPS.

Where can I find software using OSM data?

For current software using OSM, see the Software page or its Category:Software and Develop.

For a more development-related angle, see Routing (and its category), the Beginners Guide topic on usage, and the Developers' pages.

Questions from GIS people

What geographic datums are used in OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap uses the WGS 84 lat/lon data exclusively. All uploaded tracks and edits should always be in WGS 84, the default data for GPS receivers.

What is the map scale for a particular zoom level of the map?

Main article: Slippy_map_tilenames#Resolution_and_Scale

Why aren't you using Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) schemas and software for OpenStreetMap?

We choose technology for openstreetmap.org based on speed & flexibility. Some OGC standards and implementations fit this bill, but others do not. We used to use MapServer for serving static versions of our maps, but unfortunately we found it to be unthreaded, slow, and hard to extend - we replaced it with Mapnik. If you'd like to develop integration with OGC tools, let us know.

See Why not GPX? for a similar discussion about why GPX was rejected as a transport format.

What Geotagging do you use?

Main article: Geotagging


Help - someone keeps deleting/reverting my edits. What do I do?

Please see the disputes page for details