FAQs

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Accounts

How do I register for an account?

Log in to the program using any of the account types listed. This creates the account. Your initial login to CalTopo creates the account. Log in to the program with an existing login from one of the providers listed. This creates the account. Keep in mind that you need to log in with the same login and account provider each time in order to access any data you have saved to that account.

Using a different login type will create a second account, even if you use the same email address for both accounts. For example, logging in with Google one time and Yahoo another time will create two accounts. You can later link the logins if you choose.

Can I upgrade or downgrade my free/basic/pro/desktop account to some other type of account?

You can upgrade your account subscription yourself at any time. The charge will prorate to accommodate your previous purchase, though the system will display the full amount of the upgraded subscription.

To downgrade an account, please contact us.

Why do I have to login?

When you want to create, share, or use a map between sessions we have to know who you are. We use a unique identifier to associate your saved account information back to your login. On the app we require all users to login because of how integral checking permissions for downloading map layers and access to layers. At some point in the future we may allow a guest account on the app that can't save maps and doesn't need a login, but at this point we don't support this.

Why can't I just create a username/password for CalTopo?

Developing safe and secure login practices, storage of passwords, verification of identity for reset or account or passwords all take a large amount of time, development effort and money. We went with an open protocol for verifying user identity called OpenID to ensure that this process was safe and cost effective.

What is OpenID?

The protocol used is OpenID (https://openid.net/what-is-openid/) which facilitates verification of a user by established login procedures, its used by several major tech companies. It's validated, secure, and well supported.

Is my Google, Yahoo, etc, account now linked to CalTopo?

CalTopo receives an electronic identifying information that is unique to the user, it could be a number/letter string or an e-mail address. We use that unique ID to set up your CalTopo account. We cannot see your e-mail account, your fantasy football team, or any information saved with that group.

Can I create an account just to login and use CalTopo?

Absolutely, you can create a free account on Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, etc. and use that account to login to CalTopo, it doesn't have to be your primary user name with that service. Just make sure you set up a way to recover your password with that service, we are not able to reset your password with an external service.

Can CalTopo see my user/name or password for these services?

Nope! CalTopo only sees that the authentication was completed, and a unique user ID for you and your e-mail address (used to identify you as a customer and your account).


Basics

How do I use CalTopo?

See our instructional article Getting Started with CalTopo.

What is a map? In the CalTopo Map Viewer, you see a map on the screen when you open it. Perhaps counterintuitively, this is not called a Map. This is the base layer. You can zoom in/out, pan (move the map laterally), and choose which base layer you want to see from the menu. These base layers contain a lot of different types of information. See the Layers Guide for more details.

What is the difference between SARTopo and CalTopo?

CalTopo is the version most users will choose. It is the choice for most uses of the program that are not First Response focused.

SARTopo is a product of CalTopo; it has all the same tools as CalTopo plus additional first response functionalities. SARTopo originally was designed for Search and Rescue teams to help manage missions, but continues to expand to include other types of First Response activities such as Wildland Fire. SARTopo is a product of CalTopo; it has all the same tools as CalTopo plus additional first response functionalities.

Where is Cal/SARtopo available? What layers are available in my country?

We currently have full coverage in the US and Canada. We have significant coverage in Norway, Finland and Sweden, with Offline availability for some layers in those countries. We have limited maps available for Iceland, Mexico, and New Zealand. We are currently working on adding more layers to the above locations, and adding Australia. We intend to continue adding coverage for more countries over time, but we don’t have any specific timelines for availability.

Is there an email list for when new features are added?

Coming soon.

Where do I suggest a feature?

Email us at support@caltopo.com or post it in the Discussion forum.

How does your program compare to this other service?

We are not familiar with every other mapping service out there. If you have specific questions, please reach out to us! Feel free to play around with our program and view our Getting Started guide to get an idea of what the program can do.


Maps

How do I download maps?

In the CalTopo App: You can download base layers and sync your maps. Remember, base layers are the background, and your maps are the objects you create (markers, tracks, lines, etc.). Use the three-bar menu in the upper left corner of the app to find the Download Layers area as well as the Your Maps area.

For Desktop offline map use, this the instructions in this article.

How do I find my trail/peak/lake/feature?

The search function in CalTopo is robust. Search for your feature by name or coordinates in the search bar at the top of the Map Viewer. You may choose to include other identifying information such as state or county to help narrow down places that have common names, such as Bridalveil Falls.

How do I rename a map file?

Go to Collaborate in the upper left of the map viewer. At the top of the dialog box that opens, you can edit the map name. If you don’t see the map name box, you likely haven’t saved your map yet.

How often does the map auto save?

After the initial save, assuming you have a consistent network connection, the map autosaves every time you update something.

Is the map saved to the cloud?

Yes.

Can I revert to a particular save? Recover deleted objects?

Anytime you try to delete a map object or map, a dialog box appears that asks if you are sure you want to delete whatever is selected. Make sure you want to delete something before you do it!

Why is my map slow?

Maps can be slow at times for a variety of reasons. The most common causes of slow maps are labels, a large amount of data on the map, layers that require calculations (such as the sun exposure overlay) and specialty line types.

How do I view an elevation profile between points?

Create a line, then view the elevation profile of that line.

I can’t find my map/ All my maps are gone.

Logging out and back in almost always resolves this issue. This usually happens because you are not logged in to the account that you think you are. Check that you have logged in via the method you intended (Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft). Logging in with the wrong method will open a different or new account.

Where is the legend? What does this or that feature mean?

Some layers feature legends, but many do not. If one is available, these are usually displayed in the upper right hand side of the top bar. For MapBuilder layers, turn on the MapBuilder Features overlay to select the item that you need more information about.


Printing

How do I find my printed maps?

Click on your name (make sure you are logged in) to open Your Account. Look for the “Your PDFs” tab. Your printed maps will be listed there if they have not expired.

Can you print the slope angle color code?

Not at this time.


Sharing

What is replacing passwords?

We are in the process of moving away from passwords and the primary way of allowing edit access to a map. Going forward, you will create a special link depending on the type of access you wish to allow: read, update, or write. For a full explanation of these features, see the KB.

What do the different sharing permissions do?

See the Knowledge Base article for a clear description.

If two or more people are editing the same map, do we have to use the same base layers and view?

No, each user can select the base layers and overlays that they need to work with.

If someone else is looking at or editing the same map as I am, will my edits show up on the other map?

Yes, edits will propagate in real time.

What happens if two people edit the same object at the same time?

You should try to avoid this.


Configuration

How does the program handle Datum changes?

You can choose the datum that you would like to operate in from the Config menu. When importing tracks or points, you do not need to ensure that the import objects were recorded in the same datum as your settings. CalTopo will adjust the display of the object to match your chosen datum. Similarly, CalTopo App users do not need to be set in the same datum as your map - the program will display objects correctly regardless of how the object is recorded.
The only time you need to check datum is when verbally communicating coordinates.

How do I change the format of labels? Can I rotate them? Change size/color/font?

The label display options currently permitted can be adjusted through the Config menu. You can turn labels on/off altogether or by folder. You can turn the white background on/off. These are the only label options CalTopo currently offers.

Can I add text to my map without a marker?

Not at this time.

Can I add a photo to my map?

Not at this time.

Can I change contour lines to…. ?

The contour lines overlay is not customizable. However if you have a pro, desktop or team account, you can create customized MapBuilder Layers in which you can adjust certain aspects of how contour lines are displayed such as color.

How do I change to metric?

Use the config menu to change your measurement unit options.


Layers

Where do I find a description of all the layers? The overlays?

Layer Descriptions can be found here: https://help.caltopo.com/kb/layers/caltopo-layer-descriptions

Can I create my own preset layers?

No.

Can I import a custom base layer?

Yes, follow the instructions in the Knowledge Base or Training page (coming soon)

Can I create a custom layer?

Yes. CalTopo offers several options to create layers within the program, or to import additional layers from outside sources, depending on the format. Some types of custom layers do require a subscription. See the Knowledge Base and Training site (coming in the next year) for more details.

Which direction is the wind going in wind plot?

From the narrow end to the fat end of the streaks.

Can I see previous days/weeks/months of satellite data?

Yes, use the drop down menus at the top of the layer menu when the layer is activated.

Why can’t I print the Google layers?

Our license to use Google products does not allow printing or use in our app.

What elevation off the ground is the wind data representing?

2 meters.

What is the resolution of the Weekly High Res layer?

The Weekly High Res layer is a satellite image with a horizontal resolution of 10m.

Can I add my drone images as a layer?

Yes, but you will have to tile and reference them. Refer to the KB article for more information.

Do you have maps from this provider? Can you add them?

We have put a lot of thought into choosing the layers we include in the program. At this time we are working to expand our coverage in new countries, rather than adding additional layers to our current list. If you aren’t finding what you are looking for, you can often add the layers to your own account yourself.


Objects and Drawing

What is SnapTo, how do I find it, tricks and tips?

The SnapTo tool allows you to trace map features quickly and accurately. It automatically turns on when you create or edit an object. You can change what type of feature it selects from either the Config menu or the SnapTo tool drop menu in the upper right of the map viewer.

SnapTo can be set to five options:
- None: SnapTo will be off. - Lines and polygons (lines): items you have added to the map - OpenStreetMap (OSM): crowd sources trails, roads, and other features - US Forest Service (USFS): trails and roads on forest service lands - Hydrology (Hydro): hydrological features such as streams, rivers, lakes, pond, and drainages

The type of object selected will highlight on the map. Hover your cursor over the highlighted line and click to select it. Hover over the same line at some distance out and the program will trace the line in red. Click to lock in the next point, and continue drawing as needed. You can switch SnapTo features while drawing.

It's worth mentioning that the type of snap-to feature you choose might not be visible on the base layer. For example, if you use the normal layer as the base, which does not show roads and trails, you will still be able to Snap-To roads and trails.

Is there snap to in the mobile app?

Not at this time.

Can I see which user added an object?

Not at this time.

How do I add a custom icon?

Click on your login ID in the upper left to open your account. Go to the “Your Icons” tab to upload your icon image.

How do I see the acreage of an area?

Click on the item on the map or in the left menu bar. A box will appear and basic information such as area will be listed at the top, under the name of the item.

How do you change the opacity of the polygon?

Open the object editor by clicking on the item. In the edit menu, find the box that allows you to enter the opacity value.


First Response

Can you make assignments custom colors?

No, but you can use the Display Options at the bottom of each folder to choose from different types of color schemes.


App

What is the app called? How do I find SARTopo in the app?

Our app is called CalTopo. SARTopo is accessed through the same app; you will have a chance to choose which server you want when you open the app.

Can you share from the app?

We’re working on it.

Can I print from the app?

Not at this time.

My tracking stops when I exit the app.

Triple check that your battery saver is off. Especially on Android, the battery saving functions interfere with the app tracking.