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Here are the ranked, top 25 most Frequently Asked Questions about OpenStreetMap (OSM), answered in 2 sentences or less. Changing this list...

What is OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap is an freely-editable map on the internet.

Why don't you just use Google Maps?

Because map data from Google Maps is unavailable and only very limited use is allowed, whereas OSM is free and open source.

Google maps restricts access to certain sensitive parts of the world such as military bases and does not have the data, nor is it anywhere near as complete in some areas that OSM is.

Why are some things missing on the map?

OSM relies entirely on its contributors for the data that is shown on the map.

Nobody ever contributed the data that's missing before, so is up to you to contribute that data now!

Why can't I copy data from Google Maps?

Google Maps' data is copyrighted and copying copyrighted materials openly on an open platform like OSM is illegal.

You should not copy data from any service that is copyrighted and instead look for ones that are open.

Who owns OSM?

The contributors do. If you contribute to the project, you own the data.

Who maintains OSM?

The OpenStreetMap Foundation supports and maintains, and other related resources.

Does OSM have an awesome community that I can join?

Yes! You can meet and talk to them here.

Does OSM make money?

No. The database is free to use and the OpenStreetMap Foundation is a nonprofit funded by donations.

Who uses OSM?

Anyone can use OSM data for their own mapping project, but notable users include Apple (Apple Maps), Facebook, Snapchat (Snap Maps), and Amazon.

What can OSM be used for?

OSM data can be used for almost anything.

From finding directions from point A to B, to searching for points of interest, to exploring geography; OSM has the data!

How many people contribute to OSM?

As of February 9, 2021[1]:

  • 7.48 million OSM accounts have been created
  • Almost 50,000 active users

How much data is contributed to OSM?

I found a bug or think could be improved. Where can I ask about it?

You can submit bugs and feature requests for the website here.

The many open-sourced software applications for OSM also have their own issue trackers.

Can I copy data from OSM?

Yes! OSM is provided under the ODbL, meaning you must provide Attribution.

How can I display OSM maps on my website?

Read Getting Started With Leaflet on

How can I edit OSM data?

Common Editors are the iD editor on, JOSM, StreetComplete, and MapWithAI.

Can I work on mapping with other people?

Yes! Please see the OpenStreetMap Calendar, where you can find mapping events online and in-person all over the world.

Do I need to own a GPS device to contribute to the map?

Not necessarily. You're welcome to upload your GPS track logs (also called traces) to OpenStreetMap, however today we have access to numerous data sources that can be used to determine an accurate position, including aerial imagery from bing, and of course the existing OpenStreetMap data.

Uploading GPS data is useful however, for rural and mountainous areas where aerial imagery may be of low quality, or inaccurately aligned.

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 Maxar are the most popular and have the largest coverage internationally. You may even notice the age and quality of imagery from the same source may be different in your town.

The resolution and age of imagery varies, and it is not updated on a regular basis. OSM neither controls nor owns the satellite imagery so we cannot request updates.

I have a question that is not here

Please ask your question in one of the various Contact channels.