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The utilization of geocaching software, also known as paperless geocaching, involves the act of downloading geocache information onto a Global Positioning System (GPS) device or computer. GPS users and geocaching enthusiasts can use computer software as an alternative to manually entering coordinates and other cache information into the GPS receiver. This can make geocaching games more enjoyable and less time consuming.
The information held by geocaching software is typically stored using three different waypoint file formats: Location (LOC), GPS eXchange Format (GPX), and Keyhole Modeling Language (KML). LOC cache formats, which usually only contain basic data, are used on many popular geocaching websites. GPX, on the other hand, can store data using other supporting applications that allow direct downloads and uploads to many GPS devices. KML is popularly used with Google Earth™ and can read and display map data and track cache movements.
Most of these file formats are readable on GPS devices, with the exception of some lower-end devices. Armed with an interface cable, most newer models of GPS devices can download geocache coordinates directly, thus allowing paperless geocaching. Geocaching software can also work on mobile phones with built-in GPS. The software allows the uers to retrieve cache information directly from geocaching online databases in real-time.
Those who do not plan to download geocache information directly to their GPS devices can still take advantage of geocaching software to manage and store caches and other data on the computer for future use. Many geocache software programs and other related tools are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. These programs allow geocachers to add their tracks to existing cache tracks found on online databases. Like the geocaching software used on mobile phones, there is also all-in-one software designed to manage geocache files on the computer, upload the files to GPS devices, and convert them to a different file format.
Alternatives for Mac and Linux users are also available for geocachers who wish to make the most out of the endeavor. These geocaching software programs are in GPX and LOC file formats, and often feature plug-and-play GPS support which provides clear map data and an option to create a GPS library. For geocachers using Linux, open source geocaching software is available to allow easy importing and plotting of waypoints, map visualization, and the making of new tracks. Open source geocaching software is also available for geocaching enthusiasts.