How to download data from the OpenStreetMap without a line of code?



OpenStreetMap is a crowdsource project to create a free editable map of the world. By this means you can use OSM data in any GIS or mapping project, both privately and commercially.

If you ever needed to use OSM data in your GIS project you must have faced the same challenge… How to download OpenStreetData in GIS format? In fact it is easier than you might think. There are a couple of websites that allow you to simply download OSM data. Here is the list of the most user-friendly tools to do that:

ToolScopeUpdatedPBF formatSHP format
Shellboot Entire planet Weekly Yes No
Osuosl Entire planet Weekly Yes No
Geofabrik Continent, Countrie Weekly Yes Yes - most countries
Bbbike Download 200 cities Weekly Yes Yes
Bbbike Extract Any region Weekly Yes Yes - up to 750MB
Trimble Market Any region Monthly No Yes - free until 5GB

Some of these tools don’t support downloading data in ShapeFile format or offer it as a paid service as PBF is a primary format of OSM data. You shouldn’t be too worried about it. The are multiple converters available online but most of them are based on command line which is not that convenient. There is however a simple way to do that in QGIS. You simply add to the map a PBF file as a vector layer and save it as SHP.


Aleks Buczkowski
I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.
  • Robin Cura

    The links to the tools aren’t there 🙂

    • Aleks Buczkowski

      Sorry. Fixed.

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  • “Download data” is not a very specific aim when it comes to the many varied possibilities available in the OpenStreetMap ecosystem, although we do have a wiki page called Downloading Data: covering the similar download options for the “Planet” and various “Extracts”. Also OverpassAPI and other options, will allow you to get thematic extracts i.e. filtering for just a particular openstreetmap tag.

    If Shapefiles are your thing, check out which lists a few services for generating custom shapefiles (select the exact area you want, and sometimes some thematic/tag mapping options). Note that the free-form tagging approach of OpenStreetMap doesn’t fit well with the ontologies people expect in a shapefile attributes table. Most of these services do not attempt to tackle that problem very much.

    Finally if you’re working in QGIS and interested in specific POIs, try the QuickOSM plugin for a very quick zero-coding way to bring in data.

    • Aleks Buczkowski

      Hi Harry. You’re right! There are multiple services for downloading/using OSM data. This is just my subjective selection of the most user friendly of them. Thanks for the useful links!!!

  • Empire_State

    Hi Aleks,
    questioning why BBBike is listed in your overview scope as 200 cities. If I’m not mistaken, its the full planet.osm coverage that is available.

    • Aleks Buczkowski

      Indeed. BBBike offers two services. One for regularly updated city data and the second one were you define a custom bounding box and extract the data up to ~750MB. Added to the table. Thanks!