How to Select a Task in the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager


In this video tutorial, we’ll show you how to select a task from the MapGive “Learn to Map” page and work with the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager so you can start mapping to make a difference.

Now that you know how to map, it’s time to put those skills to work. As you’ve seen, mapping is easy and soon, you’ll be making edits that can help others around the world.

You may not be familiar with some, or all, of the locations in need of humanitarian mapping. That's okay! You can still help. You simply need to look at satellite imagery and trace roads, paths, buildings, and areas in the same way you did when you were learning to map. You do not need to know the names of roads and buildings to help. By tracing, you are generating map data that is open and available to the world through OpenStreetMap.

Another thing to note: even if you only make a few map edits through the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager, YOU ARE HELPING in a major way. There is no minimum and every effort helps, no matter how small. If we all do a little together, we can accomplish a lot.

There are written instructions on the MapGive site which may be helpful as you start to map in the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager.

If you don't feel comfortable mapping yet, please pause this video and select the “How to Map” tutorial video from the MapGive site. Come back to this video once you are ready.

Getting started

From MapGive’s “Learn to Map” page, scroll down below this video to the section called “select a task.” In this section, you will see a list of humanitarian mapping tasks. Select the one you would like to work on. Once you have selected the task, a new browser tab or window (depends on browser settings) will open, taking you directly to the mapping task on the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager website.

Here you will be asked to log in to your OpenStreetMap account. This is the same account you signed up for in STEP ONE on the MapGive site's “learn to map” section. You will also be asked to authorize the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager's access to your account.

Please pause this video and take a moment to make sure that you have logged in correctly.

Starting a Task

Once you have signed in and allowed access to your OpenStreetMap account, you will see the task that you selected from the MapGive site. You will see a map and some information about the task. The information about the task includes a description of what MapGive would like you to focus on, why that task is important, instructions on what to map, the individual mapping tasks, which users have worked on this task, and some stats about the task.

Please pause this video and familiarize yourself with the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager. Return to this video when you are ready for more details.

Picking a Tile to Work On

Let’s use the interactive map and zoom in on the highlighted tiles. The task has been broken up into smaller, tiled areas of the map to allow you to do a little bit of mapping rather than trying to map the entire area. This also lets other simultaneously map other tiles, or areas. By doing this in small pieces, you can all work faster.

When you select a TILE, you are taking a TASK. Your task is to map that specific tile by tracing satellite imagery.

Gray tiles represent all of the tasks available in this job. Red tiles are areas that have been marked as done. Green tiles are areas that were marked as done, and have also been validated. Gray tiles with yellow outlines are areas that are currently being worked on.

Click on a great tile on the map to select it. The task tab will open. In the task tab, click on the green button that says, “yes, I want to work on this task.” By selecting a tile you are “checking it out.” No one else will be able to edit this tile while you are working on it. Once you have completed working on the tile you will need to “check it back in” so others can validate or build on your work. We’ll explain how to check areas back in shortly.

The task tab has a few additional sections: extra instructions, information on how to credit your edits, and history of this task.

The extra instructions will contain information about the imagery you are about to work with. In some cases, you will need to adjust the imagery in the iD editor. We will show you how to do this later in the video.

The credit section will tell you what information you will need to copy and paste into the iD editor so your edits can be logged correctly. Also with this, we will show you how to do this later in the video.

Pause this video if you need to and make sure you have correctly selected a task. If you have further questions, please see the written instructions on the MapGive site.

Working on a Task in the iD Editor

Select iD from the editing tool options. This is the same editor you used to learn how to map in OpenStreetMap. This will open a new tab or window in your browser with OpenStreetMap and the iD editor.

The iD Editor will automatically load the high resolution satellite imagery for you to map with. You will also see a bounding box, showing you the exact area marking the tile you selected.

As we mentioned before, you may need to adjust the satellite imagery to match with an existing map edit. This is a very easy process. Simply click on the layers button, scroll down to “fix alignment,” and use the arrow buttons to properly line up the high resolution satellite imagery with the existing map edit. You may need to zoom in fairly close to do this.

Once you have adjusted the alignment, it's time to start mapping - adding roads, paths, buildings, and areas - just like you did when you learned to map earlier.

For example, just as you did in the practice, identify roads by looking at them and tracing them. It’s that easy.

When you make a map edit, a dialogue box will appear. You may not know the specific name of the road or building, which is okay. For instance, when you select the “Building” button in the iD editor, your map edit is automatically “tagged” as a building.

Remember to save after you make your edits. This ensures that your map edits are available to the entire world.

We do ask that you credit your work each time you save your edits. A collection of map edits are called a changeset, and when you save your edits, you are essentially applying a “commit” to the OSM database. The iD editor will ask if you want to provide a “commit message” to your collection of edits. This information will help us understand when an edit was made as part of MapGive.

To credit your edits, please click back to the OpenStreetMap tasking manger tab in your browser. Scroll down to the credit section in the task tab. Copy the provided credit. Click back on the iD editor tab in your browser. Paste the credit in the tag section of the dialogue box.

You can pause this video if you need to get familiar with the editor and the tracing you are about to do. If you need help mapping, please go back to the MapGive “learn to map” page and watch the “how to map in OpenStreetMap” video.

Finishing a Task

When you finish mapping an area, or simply decide to stop mapping for now, please return to the OpenStreetMap tasking manager and either “unlock the task” or “mark it as done.” Unlocking the task means that you have done some of the map edits but there are more to do. Marking the task as done means that you have done all of the map edits possible.

When you unlock a task, the tasking manager will ask you for comments. Feel free to make whatever comments you feel are helpful regarding this task. For example, you could indicate how much of the tile is complete, or if specific features still need work. If you have no comments to make, simply write “no comments.”


If you feel like you need a little more practice before jumping in, go back to the MapGive “learn to map” page and watch the “how to map” video. Follow along and practice until you feel confident enough to work in the tasking manager.

That’s it. You’re now a full-fledged mapper! Thank you for learning how to map and also for mapping to make a difference. Hopefully this video was helpful is giving you an understanding of the mapping process. For further help, please read the written guides on this site.