JOSM Quickstart

JOSM is a feature rich, extensible, offline desktop editor for OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, written in Java.

It supports loading stand-alone GPX tracks and GPX track data as well as editing existing nodes (points), ways (lines), metadata tags (name/value information) and relations (ordered sequence of points and lines) from the OSM database. GPX tracks, are usually downloaded in advance from a GPS receiver or from other sources.

This quickstart covers basic usage of the Java OpenStreetMap editor.

Start JOSM

From the desktop, choose Navigation and Maps ‣ JOSM. When JOSM starts, it will look something like this:

JOSM splash page

Load a sample (ficticious) map

  1. Now let’s open up a sample OSM file which we will use to learn the basic ways to draw maps with JOSM. Note that this map is not real, in that it is not a real map of a real place, so we will not save it on OpenStreetMap.

  2. Download the file here: sample.osm

  3. Now let’s open the sample map file in JOSM. Click the “Open” button in the upper left.

    Open file
  4. Find the file sample.osm. It is probably in your Downloads folder, unless you saved it somewhere else.

  5. Click on it, and then click “Open”. You should now see a sample map that looks like this:

    Sample file


You will use these data in order to try various editing techniques. You must however never upload these fictitious data to the database.

Draw your own map

Now let’s draw a map in order to practice the techniques you have learned. You may wish to redraw the map that you drew on paper previously.

  • Drag the map away from the sample map. Hold the right mouse button and drag your mouse, until you have a nice empty area to draw on.

  • Use the Draw tool to create points, lines, and shapes. Describe what your objects are by selecting from the Presets menu.

  • When you are finished, you should have your own map, similar to the sample map that we opened in sample.osm.

Remove the sample layer

Once you feel comfortable with these basic editing techniques you might want to turn your attention to mapping real features.


It is very important that you first remove the layer with the sample data. These data are fictitious and must not be uploaded to the OpenStreetMap database (newer JOSM releases automatically prevent this).

In the Layers window on the upper right of the screen select the sample.osm layer. Then click on the trash can icon in the lower right corner of that window. Alternatively you can choose delete from the context menu of the layer.

What next?