Map Viewer Tour


let's begin

With all the features and possibilities available in CalTopo, the first time you open the map viewer can be overwhelming for some users.

The purpose of this lesson is to get you acquainted with the map viewer on both the web and mobile app. You’ll find that once you get familiar with the lay of the land, it's much easier to find your way around and get started creating unique and informative maps.

Topics on this Page:

First Look

When you first open up CalTopo (or SARTopo for you first responders out there), you will see the map viewer. The map viewer is where you create and edit maps.

Overview of the Map Viewer Page

The screenshots and videos below will take you on a tour of different parts of the map viewer as seen when logged into a free account - first on the web, and then on the mobile app. Keep in mind that you can do a lot with a free account on CalTopo; however you will gain access to even more features with a paid subscription.

For more information on the features and pricing of individual account subscriptions, please visit our Individual Accounts page.

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Objects Menu (Left Side Bar)

Let’s start on the left side of the map viewer. This is also referred to as the Objects Menu and it is where you can access account information as well as add and manage map objects and custom layers. Let’s take a look at the features and tools found here, starting at the top of the left sidebar and working our way down.

The Objects Menu includes the following:

Map Name: displays the map name of saved maps. Unsaved Map will appear here until a map is saved to your account.

Account Name: account provider and account name that you are logged in with. The symbol to the left of your account name is the account provider.

Collaborate: opens the Sharing dialog. This allows you to control the base permission of any map you have made and share your map with others.

Preset Layers: consists of different base layers and overlays that have been pre-stacked in specific combinations.

+ Add New Object: one of the three ways you can add new map objects to the map.

+ Add New Layer: allows you to create and add custom layers.

Any map objects that you add to the map will also appear in the left sidebar below + Add New Layer.


You can hide or display the side bar by clicking the small left-arrow tab midway down the column, on the map viewer side of the column.

Objects Menu (Left Side Bar) Quick Video

Here is a short video to show and explain the basic features of the left side bar menu.

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Upper Menu Bar

Next let's take a look at the upper menu bar. A wide variety of tools can be found here, including importing, exporting and printing menus as well as the search bar.

The bar across the top of the map viewer contains drop down menus

The Upper Menu Bar includes the following:

  • CALTOPO: great resources for additional help, including our help forum.
  • + Add: another way to add new map objects and custom layers to your map.
  • Import: bring outside data files into your map.
  • Export: export map data, view it in Google Earth (one of my personal favorite functions!) or copy map data to a new map.
  • Measure: gather information quickly without saving anything to the map
  • Print: generate PDFs or JPEGs, generate coordinate lists or order a paper map from * mountyn.co.
  • Config: change map settings.
  • Upgrade: opens the account management page. Upgrade your account, cancel auto-renewal or change credit card information here.
  • Search Bar: search for a location by name or any coordinate format.
  • Locate Me: locates the computer you are on and centers the mapviewer on those coordinates.

Upper Menu Bar Quick Video

Looking to learn a little more about these top bar functions? Watch this short video.

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Map Layers Menu (Right Side Bar)

Let’s move on to the right side of the map viewer. This is where you can truly customize your map using the base layers, map sheets and overlays menus.

The Map Layers menu includes the following:

Cursor Information Dialog: provides coordinates, elevation and datum for the position of the cursor.

Base Layers: to select and stack base layers.

Map Sheets: to select and stack geospatial images such as JPG, TIFF or PDF files.

Map Overlays: turn on and off overlays to add additional data to your map.

You can hide the layers menu in order to view more of the map. Click on the Map Layers button in the upper right of the map viewer to display or hide the side bar. You can also use the tab mid-way down the column, on the map viewer side of the side bar.

Map Layers Menu (Right Side Bar) Quick Video

Check out this video for a quick tour of the right side of the map viewer.

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Moving Around the Map Viewer

Finally let’s look at how you can move around the map viewer. You can zoom in and out using the zoom buttons in the upper left hand corner of the map or by zooming in and out as you normally would using your mouse or keypad.

Zoom in and out with these buttons.

You can also pan around the map by clicking and dragging the map with the cursor to physically move it.

Click and drag to move around the map viewer. Use the zoom buttons or the zoom function on your mouse or key pad to zoom in and out.

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Mobile App Map Viewer Tour

The mobile map viewer has many of the same tools as the web, although the layout differs. Let’s explore the different parts of the mobile map viewer as seen on the iOS app. Some icons may differ on the Android app although their location and function is the same.

Let’s start with the icons along the top of the mobile map viewer.

    The icons along the top of the map viewer include:

  • Main Menu: access saved maps, map sheets and tracks, scan a QR code, download base layers for offline use, change your display options and settings, as well as view your account information.
  • Measure: gather information quickly without saving anything to the map.
  • Map Objects: view and edit map objects and custom layers currently the map you are viewing as well as add new ones. Import and export map items and tracks.
  • Search: search for a location by name or any coordinate format.
  • Layers: access base layers, map sheets and overlays.

Below the icons along the top of the mobile map viewer is the crosshairs information dialog, similar to the cursor information dialog on the web. However the important difference is that the crosshairs information dialog displays the coordinates and elevation of the crosshairs at the center of the mobile map viewer. As you zoom in and out and pan around the map, the crosshairs will remain centered and the crosshairs information dialog will reflect the current coordinates and elevation of the crosshairs and the map datum.

The crosshairs match up with the coordinates in the top right of the screen.

The four dot Location Menu and Locate Me icons are in the lower left hand corner of the map viewer.

Locate Me and Location Menu

Finally let’s look at how you can move around the mobile map viewer. You can zoom in on a particular area by pinching your fingers together on the screen and zoom out by bringing your fingers further apart. To pan around the map, simply press your finger on the screen and drag it in the direction that you want to move the map.

If you’d prefer to take a virtual tour of the mobile map viewer, check out this video. As with the screenshots above, this video shows the iOS CalTopo app. Some icons may differ on the Android app but the location and function is the same.

Navigating the Mobile App Quick Video

Check out this video for a quick tour of the mobile app map viewer.

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