Here is a list of Best Free Map Making Software For Windows. These map creating software let you create your own customized maps. You can add different locations, create paths, etc. on a map and make your maps more explanatory. You can either create a custom map from scratch or import a shapefile of a map to your project.
All of these custom map maker software support shapefiles. There are some websites that allow you to download and use shapefiles in your project for free. Here are the links to such websites: DIVA-GIS, MapCruzin, GADM, Natural Earth, Mapzen.
You can add points to indicate different locations and draw lines to show paths on your map. Besides this, you can also draw different shapes on the map, like swimming pools, ponds, lakes, parks, playgrounds, etc. You can also label different locations and measure the distance, area, and angle on the map.
My favorite map making software for Windows:
QGIS is my favorite choice for map making software. It is an open source map making software which comes with a lot of features. You can mark points, draw lines, create different shapes, etc. to create custom maps. Moreover, you can also highlight different places with different symbols. For example, airplane symbols for airports, spoon and fork symbols for restaurants, etc.
You may also like some best free Mind Mapping, Key Mapping, and Sitemap Generator software for Windows.
QGIS stands for Quantum Geographic Information System. It is a free and open source GIS software which can also be used to create custom maps. You can import shapefiles of maps of different countries, or start from scratch. It also comes with a good number of plugins; you can install and manage them in Plugins menu.
Create Custom Maps in QGIS:
You can create a detailed map by inserting more layers to your project. Each layer can be inserted as a point layer, line layer, or polygon layer. A point layer is added to mark various points on a map, line layer is added to draw paths on a map, and a polygon layer is added to draw different shapes on a map. For example, if you want to show the path between any two places, say home and school, you need to add both point and line layers on the map. Besides this, you can also mark the boundaries on your map.
See the above screenshot, in which I imported the shapefile of the United States and edited it by adding three layers. QGIS also has various symbols which can be used to highlight different places on the map. For example, you can show restaurants, schools, airports, etc.
This free map making software also has three measurement tools which let you measure the distance between two points, area of the selected region, and angle between two paths on the map. You can set kilometers, meters, yards, feet, miles, etc. as measurement units for distance and square meters, square kilometers, square feet, square yards, square miles, acres, hectares, etc. for area.
When you are done, you can save your project in QGIS format. It also has an option to save the created custom map in different image formats such as BMP, ICO, JPG, PNG, PPM, TIFF, etc.
Watch this tutorial video to understand how to begin with QGIS.
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OpenOrienteering Mapper is a free and open source map making software for Windows. Using this software, you can create new maps and save them on your PC. Moreover, you can also edit the existing maps by importing them. You can import a map in the following formats: OMAP, XMAP, OCD, SHP, SHX, GPX, etc.
You can create custom map with the help of symbols available in the symbol sets. Multiple symbol sets are provided in the software. You have to select which symbol set you want to use in your project before creating a new one. A large number of symbols are provided in these symbol sets by which you can make more detailed maps. Some of these symbols are open sandy ground, bare rock, lake, pond, water hole, open land with scattered trees, rough opened land, rough opened land with scattered trees, forest, vegetation, cultivated land, contour, form line, impassable cliff, rock pillars, etc.
It has a measurement tool, by which you can measure the boundary length and area of a particular region. But, the boundary length and area are correct in case only if there are no self-intersections and holes in the region thus measured.
After creating a map, you can save it in OMAP, XMAP, and OCD formats. You can also export the map in PNG, BMP, JPG, TIFF, and PDF formats.
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DIVA-GIS is another free map making software for Windows. You can start a project by importing a shapefile of a country. The shapefiles of all countries are available on its website for free. You can download and use them in your project.
After importing a shapefile, you can add points, draw shapes, create paths, etc. on it and make your map more descriptive. You can also import points to the map directly from TXT, XLS, DBF, and MDB formats.
You can join the points with lines and create paths on the map. You will get drawing options in Data > Draw Shape. From there, you can select which shape you want to draw (point, line, or polygon) from the drop-down menu. Each shape drawn by you is to be saved in a new shapefile. After saving, the shapefile will be added to your project in a new layer.
You can change the properties of each layer by right-clicking on it. Let’s see some of the properties which you can vary for each layer:
- Point Layer: You can change the shape of points as circle, square, triangle, or cross. Besides this, you can also highlight a point as a character, say H for home and S for school. Moreover, you can also change the color of a point and vary its size.
- Line Layer: You can highlight different paths with different colors and vary their thickness.
- Polygon Layer: This tool lets you draw different shapes on the map. After drawing the shapes, you can color them with different styles, like solid fill, horizontal fill, vertical fill, cross fill, diagonal cross fill, etc. You can also add or remove outline from a polygon.
With the help of distance measurement tool, you can measure the distance on the map.
You can save the entire project in DIV format or export it in DIX format.
The complete manual of DIVA-GIS is available here.
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OpenJUMP is yet another free map making software for Windows. It is a JAVA based application, so be sure that you have installed JAVA on your system before running it.
Start your project by importing a shapefile. After you import a shapefile, you can use the available tools and mark different points, create paths by drawing lines, etc. on the map. You can also create custom maps from scratch without importing a shapefile.
Various types of Editing tools are provided in the software. These tools are helpful in creating custom maps. You can draw polygons, mark various points on the map, join points with lines, draw circles of any radius, etc.
The measurement toolbox of this software has many measurement tools, which lets you measure distance, area, angle, coordinates, azimuth, etc. on the map. You can also change the unit of measurement to kilometer, meter, feet, yards, miles, etc. Good thing is that unlike other software, it lets you display measurements on the customized map output.
After creating a map, you can save your project in JMP and JCS formats. Also, you can save the view of your map in JPG or PNG format.
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