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Microsoft Flight Simulator guide: How to download maps

Save data while still seeing the world

The Brooklyn Bridge in Microsoft Flight Simulator Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

There are plenty of wonders to see in Microsoft Flight Simulator. However if you’re spending plenty of time exploring the skies above the world’s best skyscrapers, natural wonders, or conspiracy theory homes, you might be streaming a lot of data.

Despite its gigantic installation size, the game still streams in live model data. Doing this requires downloading a lot of data in real time, often gigabytes worth. If you have a data cap or just don’t want to steam tons of data, you can download map data locally.

In this Microsoft Flight Simulator guide, we’ll show you how to download map data once so you can fly over your favorite places in their best detail as much as you want without streaming data.

How to create a local cache

To download a local copy of map data for anywhere on the planet, you have to create a local cache first. To do that, you’ll need to dive through a few menus:

  1. From the home welcome screen, select options
  2. Then choose general
  3. From there, click on the data tab
  4. Scroll to the bottom of this section and choose manual cache
The manual cache screen in Microsoft Flight Simulator
How to set up your manual cache
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Once you’re on the manual cache screen, you can begin setting up what local data you’d like to download.

Choose a folder on a drive that has several gigabytes of available space. (When you select a folder, Microsoft Flight Simulator will tell you how much available space exists.)

Next set the maximum amount of cache data you’d like to allocate. You can choose any number you like, well into the hundreds, but try something like 5-10GB to start, and then press create cache. You can input a larger number, and then select modify cache later.

With your cache created, now you can download area data.

How to download map data

To download local map data, choose a destination to download. From the search bar on the right, type the name of a city, point of interest, or input coordinates. Afterward, you area will appear on the map. Once it’s loaded, click on cache new region.

The manual cache screen in Microsoft Flight Simulator
The darker the opacity, the more detail downlaoded
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

To grab data, pan around the map with the left mouse button. When you’re ready to define areas to download, click and drag with your right mouse button. The closer you zoom in, the more detail you’ll be able to define in your download.

Once you’re satisfied with the area you’ve painted in, name your area on the bottom, and then press finish & download. Depending on the size of the area you marked off and the amount of detail you defined, this could take some time.

Now when you load into the area you’ve downloaded, it’ll be at the quality level you set, without having to stream that data each time you visit.