Transfering Targets or Fishing Log Waypoints to My Garmin with Contour Elite?

As of October 1, 2023 we no longer support the Contour Elite product.

The contents featured in the article below may still be of use to you however, and so will continue to be available.


In Contour Elite, the way you transfer targets or fishing log waypoints to Garmin units depends on the type of unit you have and the connection. Older handheld units have a serial connection while newer handheld have a USB connection. Marine chartplotters use a MMC/SD card or microSD card to transfer data.

Contour Elite is able to import/export data in the following GPS formats:

-Garmin serial/USB format: used for compatible units connected directly to the computer with a serial cable or USB cable. Contour Elite transfers data directly into the unit through this connection. Examples of compatible units include: Etrex; GPSMAP 60 series, 76 series, and 96 series; Streetpilot series; and marine GPS-only units such as GPSMAP 378.

-Garmin Mapsource format (.gdb or .mps): can be imported into the Garmin Mapsource program that came with your unit or other Garmin software compatible with your unit such as Garmin HomePort. Within the Garmin software, these files can be converted and/or exported to your particular GPS unit. This is helpful for Marine chartplotters that you can't connect directly to the computer or other units that don't support the Garmin serial/USB format above.

-Garmin point of interest (.gpi) format: can be used to transfer target spots or fishing log waypoints to units that can accept this format.

-GPX format: This is a universal format that is becoming more accepted as new units come out. It is possible that your Garmin unit accepts this format directly, or you can convert this format within Garmin software and export to your GPS unit. Newer models such as the Colorado, Oregon, and Dakota accept this format directly.

NOTE: For Garmin chartplotters, blank SD cards must be formatted in the Garmin unit prior to importing/exporting GPS data. To do this:

1. Turn the unit off.

2. Place the blank SD card in the card slot.

3. Turn the unit on. This automatically formats the card.

Also for Garmin chartplotters, some units only accept files exported by one of Garmin's own software products such as Mapsource or HomePort. So, you will need to export GPS data from Contour Elite in a format that can be read by Mapsource or HomePort such as GPX, mapsource (.gdb or .mps), or lowrance (.usr) and then you would use Mapsource or HomePort to convert this file to the format needed by the chartplotter.

1. Open Contour Elite's Export to GPS interface by clicking on the "Export Targets to GPS" button on the Target Tool panel or the "Export Entries to GPS" on the Fishing Log panel.

2. Select the desired Garmin format (or GPX format) depending on your unit.

3. Select the location to export the file to and give it a name. NOTE: if you selected Garmin Serial/USB format, you will need to select the port that your GPS is connected to and make sure the connections are secure.

If you have a Colorado, Oregon, or Dakota unit, your computer should recognize the unit as an external hard-drive and assign it a drive letter. When selecting the export location, you will need to save it in the "GPX" folder on the Garmin unit (for example: D:GarminGpx)

4. Select the target(s)or fishing log waypoints to export.

5. Click "Export". Your file should now be saved to the desired location.

6. If you exported the files to your computer, you will need to load them into your Garmin software to convert them and/or load them onto your unit. If you exported the files directly to your unit, you will need to follow the manufacturer's directions on how to display your data.


-If connecting the unit via cable, make sure the unit is turned on and all of the connections are secure.

-If connecting via USB cable, make sure you have installed the USB driver that came with your unit. This driver allows communication between a computer and the unit via USB cable.

-If you're using a serial GPS unit but your computer only has USB ports, you will need to use a Serial to USB converter. The converter should come with a driver that assigns a virtual serial port to the USB port when the cable is connected and the unit is turned on.

-If using a serial unit, make sure the unit is set to "Garmin mode".

-If using a serial unit, make sure that you disable any other programs "claiming" the serial port such as PDA synching software. If something is already claiming the particular port #, communication will be blocked.

-If you are connecting the unit via cable, make sure you select the correct port number. If connecting to the serial port on the back of a computer, the port will probably be COM1 or COM2. If you're using a Serial to USB converter, the driver will assign the COM#. You may be able to open the driver software to determine what the COM# is, or you can go to the Windows device manager to see which COM number was assigned to the connection. The device manager is located at: Start -> Control Panel -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager. Then, click on the plus sign (+) next to "Ports." This will list all of the ports currently assigned on the computer.

-If you're unable to get the cable connection to work, try to export using a different Garmin format such as the Mapsource format and transfer the data to your GPS unit through the Garmin software.

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