Settings Menu

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The Settings menu (called Display Options on the mobile app) is your go-to place to customize settings for the map viewer and tools. You can change your settings on both the web and mobile app although some settings are specific to one platform or may differ in the degree of customization possible between the web and mobile app. The settings below are available on both platforms with the same amount of customization possible unless otherwise indicated.

Keep reading to learn about how to use the Settings menu or click on any of the names of the settings below to jump ahead to that particular section.

Topics on this Page:

Accessing the Settings Menu

Click on computer monitor button in the upper right of the map viewer to open the Settings menu. You can view and edit your current settings here.

Click the computer monitor button to open the Settings menu.

Accessing Display Options in the Mobile App

As mentioned previously, the Settings menu is called *Display Options* on the mobile app. To access Display Options, tap on the 3 bar menu in the upper lefthand corner of the map viewer and then select Display Options to view and edit your current settings.

Jump to the other mobile only instructions for configuring the mobile specific display settings.

Display Settings

Show Labels

This setting allows you to change how labels on map objects are displayed in the map viewer. On the web you have the option to show All, Non-Overlapping, or None.

Start organizing your label visibility in settings

  • All: labels are shown for every map object unless labels are turned off at the folder level
  • Non-Overlapping: when labels overlap only one label will show. As you zoom in you’ll see more of your labels.
  • None: no labels are shown regardless of the folder setting

Leave the folder checkbox unchecked to override the All in the settings menu

Show UTM/USNG Grid

This setting allows you to add gridlines to the map viewer. Selecting it will display the UTM/USNG grid in the specified datum. You can adjust the intensity in order to lighten or darken the appearance of the grid lines.

UTM/USNG in NAD27 grid lines as seen on the web.

Please note that if you wish to include gridlines on a generated PDF or JPEG, you must select to display these in the Print Options menu. To learn more about printing options, go to the Print lesson.

Update URL on Map Move

This setting is only available on the web on an unsaved map. Selecting this option displays additional information in the map URL such as the coordinates for the center of the map, zoom level and base layers and overlays selected. Changes to any of these will be reflected and displayed in the map URL.

Map URL with information including coordinates for the center of the map, zoom level and base layers and overlays selected.

Default Mode

Please note: since we merged the CalTopo and SARTopo servers, all users (including first responders) now use CalTopo. Map mode (described here) is how you select the tools that are available in the map viewer.

This setting allows you to select your default map mode for the map viewer and any new maps that you create. Most users should select "Recreation" as their default mode, which will give you everything you need and nothing extra. However, you may want to choose "SAR" mode if you are a first responder. SAR mode includes additional first responder specific tools (like assignments and clues) in the Add menu and elsewhere on the platform. For more information on SAR map objects, visit the Creating SAR Objects page.

When you save a map, you'll be prompted to select a mode for the map. The default mode that you have set in the Settings menu will automatically be selected, although you can change it using the dropdown menu. Setting the mode for a saved map ensures that anyone who views the map will view it in the selected mode. For more information on saving a map (including setting the mode), visit the Making Your First Map page.

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Coordinates Settings

You can configure how datum, units and coordinates are displayed on the web and mobile app. The settings you select will be reflected in the position display in the upper right hand corner of the map viewer as well as for any tools.

Customize the position display on the web and mobile app the way you want it!


A datum is the chosen model used to measure positions on the Earth. A specific point on Earth can have significantly different coordinates depending on what datum is used to make the measurements.

For example, a point with a given latitude and longitude in WGS84 can be many meters off from another point having the identical latitude and longitude in NAD27.

You can choose between WGS84 and NAD27 for coordinate display and entry (NAD83 is not offered as a separate setting because it is essentially the same as WGS84 in this context). The current datum selected will appear in the position display (as shown above) and any Marker or Point dialogs.

If you change datums, the coordinates of any map objects already on the map will automatically change to reflect the datum but the objects will remain in the same position on the map.

Measurement Units

This setting configures which units to display for elevation, distance and area. You can choose between mixed, metric, imperial, nautical, feet only and acres only. Please note that changing the units in the Config menu does not change how data is displayed in base layers. The units used in base layers for measurements such as contour line elevation depends on the underlying data source.

Units drop-down menu options.

Coordinate System (Primary and Secondary Formats)

This setting specifies the primary and secondary coordinate system format displayed. You can choose between UTM, USNG, Degrees, Degrees Minutes and Degrees Minutes Seconds.


Coordinate drop-down menu options.

Unlike other GPS apps and devices, you can still enter coordinates in any system format (for example when searching for a new location or adding a marker) regardless of this setting.

Show Position

The Show Position at setting determines whether or not the position display is visible on the map and what position it reports. If selected, the position display will be visible. You can configure the position display to show information for the current position of the cursor or the center of the map viewer using the dropdown menu.

Notice how changes to the Show Position setting affect the position display in the upper right of the map viewer.

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Mobile Only Settings

While the web and mobile app offer many of the same settings, some settings are less configurable in mobile than on the web while other settings are unique to mobile. This section covers differences between the web and mobile app as well as mobile-specific settings.

Display Settings Differences

Dark Mode/ Enable Dark Layers

The mobile app now offers the option to display dark layers for some of your favorite base layers (including MapBuilder Topo and Scanned Topos). Dark layers display map objects against a dark version of the base layer(s). The idea behind this is to reduce the light emitted by the device while maintaining enough contrast for readability.

To enable Dark Layers for Android: use the drop down menu to set your Dark Mode to Use system default (you can change this in your mobile device's display settings), Dark or Light. Then toggle Enable Dark Layers on and off as desired.

To enable dark layers for iOS: in all recent versions of iOS, the app will follow the system dark mode setting. Often this is set to automatically enable dark mode at sunset and light mode at sunrise, but you can override this in the system settings on your mobile device. To enable dark layers in the app, simply toggle Enable Dark Layers on and off as desired.

Toggle dark layers on and off as desired on iOS by using the Enable Dark Layers slider.

Show Labels

On the mobile app you can toggle labels on or off. No further configuration is possible.

Show Scale Bar

This display setting allows you to change the visibility of the scale bar. Toggle this setting on and off to show or hide the scale bar from the bottom left hand corner of the map viewer.

Scale bar visibility toggled on.

Coordinate Settings Differences

Other than the Show Coordinates/Elevation settings, the other settings in this section (Datum, Units, and primary and secondary formats) function the same was as they do on the web.

Show Coordinates/Elevation

On the mobile app, this setting appears as *Show Coordinates/Elevation*. Toggle this setting on and off to show or hide the position display. The position and elevation information shown is always for the center of the map viewer.

Compass and Heading Settings

This part of the Display Options menu allows you to change how compass and heading data is displayed. Since this is part of navigating with the mobile app, these settings are only available on the mobile app. For more information on navigating with the mobile app, please see the mobile Navigation lesson.

Show Heading Line

This setting controls whether a heading line is shown to indicate the direction you are facing when your location is turned on. Simply toggle "Show Heading Line" on to display a heading line in place of the blue compass arrow.

Heading line indicating a heading of 231°.

North Reference

Choose between true or magnetic north for your north reference. This will be reflected in the numerical heading displayed next to the crosshairs icon in the lower right corner of the map viewer.

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