In the Garmin topographic maps, hiking and bicycle trails are masked by many land contour lines and municipal boundaries and are therefore hardly to see. On some older topo maps, roads, trails and waterways all look the same and are represented by black narrow lines. Also the vegetation, such as forests and orchards, is not shown. The map view can greatly be improved by installing a (free) typ file.

Why use typ files

Map view data is stored in the topographical maps but is not always used in Mapsource or the GPS. The view can greatly be improved by installing a (free) typ file. This file describes how roads, footpaths, woods etc. must be displayed on Mapsource and the GPS. Most older maps do not use the type files but some recent Garmin maps do use it. I have made two typ files, much effort is made to optimize them:

  • AVD.typ. This is suitable for both MapSource and the GPS device. Because the trackback line is hard to see, I made a special typ file for the GPS device:
  • Trackback.typ. This is only for the GPS device, to use during trackback. The trackback line is very hard to distinguishable from the roads, especially when used in the sun, during cycling and when wearing sunglasses. So you often lose the track. Trackback.typ makes the trackback line much more visible. Because roads and trails are shown with narrow lines, the trackback line is not masked anymore. Also the background is made yellow for better contrast. Make the color of the tracks always purple, this is more visible.

The typ files are universal and suitable for each country. The typ files can be installed on for instance the Garmin Etrex, Garmin Zumo and the GPSmap 60.
Note that it is not possible to change the map view of countries individually. A typfile applies to all countries. 

Improved map view with AVD.typ

Here are examples on Mapsource, left the original view, right the improved view with the AVD.typ file.
The Observant in Maastricht, the paths are better visible in the right image.

Observant old view
Observant old view
Observant improved view
Observant improved view

Maastricht, the secondary roads are better visible in the right image.

Maastricht old view
Maastricht old view
Maastricht improved view
Maastricht improved view

Improved map view with Trackback.typ

Because the background is yellow and roads are shown with narrow lines, the trackback line is much more visible on the GPS device. 

The trackback line is much more visible on the GPS device with the typ file Trackback.typ
The trackback line is much more visible on the GPS device with the typ file Trackback.typ

Typ file installation with MapSetToolKit


We use this program to install typfiles on Mapsource. Download the program from this site: It is a zip file of 44 KB. MapsetToolkit should not be installed but started by executing the MapsetToolkit.exe file. We use a small part of the functionality of MapSetToolKit, only the part to install typfiles. Mapsource modifies the files product.tdb, product.mdx and the registry.

Copy Trackback.typ

In Mapsource, each country has its own topo map and all topographic maps can use the same typ file AVD.typ. For the maps that are sent to the GPS, each country must have its own typ file. Create a separate typ file for each topo map by duplicate the typ file Trackback.typ several times and rename it. You can choose the typ file name by yourself, for instance B TB.typ and NL TB.typ. The result is shown here:

Typ file examples
Typ file examples

Installation sequence

  • First install Trackback.typ on Mapsource temporary (see later). Then send all the maps with the new view to the GPS with Mapsource.
  • Install AVD.typ on Mapsource, this is final. The temporary installation of Trackback.typ on Mapsource will be overwritten.

Typfile installation procedure

  • The type files need not to be stored to a special location, you can choose the location yourself.
  • Close Mapsource if it is running and start the MapSetToolKit.exe file.
  • Window "Mapset installed" > select a FAMILY, this is the country.
  • Don’t fill in other fields. Don’t use the START button.
  • Edit button > select the corresponding typ file > Apply. Ignore the message "The FID fields ..."... Answer Yes. The FID and product are now automatically adjusted in the typ file. Repeat this for all countries.
  • Close MapSetToolKit.
  • Start MapSource. The map view should now have changed.

Send the maps to the GPS

Sending all the country sub-maps with Mapsource takes many hours. Send therefore, to assess a typ file, only some sub-maps and see if you like the new display on the GPS. Set in Mapsource the map detail to lowest and zoom out completely. Select the desired sub-maps with the card button and send the maps to the GPS with the send button. Note that, at the end, all maps of the countries must send at once, not country by country.

AVD.typ properties

  • Trails and unpaved roads are clearly visible.
  • Land contour lines are no longer dominating; they are displayed with dotted lines.
  • All roads, except local roads and paths, have a width of 4 pixels. The distinction between main roads, secondary roads and local roads is done with colours which are consistent with those of paper topographic maps and car maps.
  • Local roads have a width of 2 pixels, without border. This small width prevents that in residential areas, where the local road is used, the roads will dominate on the map.
  • In maps, such as Belgium, there is an abundance of poles and crosses which are displayed with oversized symbols. These symbols (POI's) are thus reduced in size so they do no longer dominate the map.
  • The main elements, like most poly lines and some POI’s, are redesigned. The other elements come from the template project file of MapTk.

AVD.typ viewed in program Typ Wiz
AVD.typ viewed in program Typ Wiz

Trackback.typ properties

  • I've experimented a lot with this typfile. A great improvement of the trackback line visibility was achieved by making the background yellow and leaving out everything except the roads and paths. These are shown with thin lines. 

Typfiles uninstall

  • Start MapSetToolKit.
  • Follow the procedure as described in installing typ files but let the typ file field empty instead of a selecting a typ file. Repeat this for all countries. 

More about typ files

Very likely you will not find typ files on your PC. This is no problem; Mapsource is prepared to typ files.

A typ file contains the view of map elements and is divided into:

  • POI (Point Of Interest): symbols for churches, schools, etc.
  • Poly lines: lines for road, contour lines etc.
  • Polygons, area fill pattern for rivers, orchards, etc.

Unfortunately the typ file elements are subdivided insufficient, as a result map suppliers treat elements different. For instance, the elements “secondary roads”. There are two types of this, namely 0x04 and 0x05. One map supplier uses 0x04 another uses 0x05 and there are map suppliers that use both types. It is unhandy to make a separate typ file for each country. To make AVD.typ as universal as possible both types of secondary roads are made equal. For other elements with the same problem the same is done.

Edditing typ files

You can edit type files with MapTK or Typ Wiz. MapTk is described here in Dutch.

Other sites about type files

Do you have any comments? Please let me know.
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