Geocaching using an Android Smartphone

Download and install c:geo, an Android geocaching app, before following the rest of these instructions.

Downloading a hike’s Pocket Query (PQ) file

Note: The following steps require an internet connection and can download a lot of data. It is advisable to perform them when your phone is connected via Wifi. If you do not use a Wifi connection, you may incur data charges and/or exceed your monthly data allowance.

Each SIR geocaching hike will have an associated PQ file which contains the geocaches along the hike. Having the PQ file available on your smartphone will enable you to search for caches even if you are in an area with no cell reception and will also reduce your cell data usage. It may also contain Premium geocaches which are geocaches that are only visible to people who have upgraded to the premium account.

If you are unable to complete the following steps, you can still do the hike. After the hike, ask the hike leader to help you with the PQ file.

  1. On your smartphone, go to the SIR Activity Geocaching web page and find the Geocaching Hike that you will be participating in.  Select the PQ file.
  2. If a window appears asking you to OK the download, approve it.
  3. The Open With window appears (on some smartphones, it immediately disappears. If that happens, go to Step 4)

    Select “c:geo” and then select “ALWAYS”. The Import GPX to list window should appear (see Step 5). If it does, go to Step 5. If not, continue with Step 4.
  4. If you are not seeing the Import GPX to list window, try selecting the icon which opens your app drawer (the screen which shows all the apps on your phone) and selecting the “Downloads” icon. The download folder window opens and you will see all the files that have been downloaded. Look for a file that begins with “caches” followed by the name of the SIR activity and select it. The Import GPX to list window in the next step should appear.
  5. The Import GPX to list window appears

    Select “Stored[0]” and the PQ file will be imported into the c:geo Stored list. You could also select <Create new list> and then enter a name if you want to use named lists.
    Note: “Stored” is the default list name in c:geo. The number in brackets is the number of caches already stored in the list.
  6. The Cache List window appears.

Cache List window

The Cache List window shows the caches that have been downloaded into c:geo. You will be using it a lot and can also see it by selecting the red “Stored” icon on the Home window.
The caches are sorted by distance from you. The line above the blue bar shows the name of the list (Stored), the number of caches in the list (30), a map icon which displays the Map window, a funnel icon which filters the list, and the Menu icon on right. For each cache,

  • The colored icon is the type (the green box is a traditional cache)
  • Name (CCCT – West Oak Grove)
  • Distance (2.34 mi) and directional arrow
  • Cache ID (GC20YAJ)
  • Difficulty (D:1.5) and Terrain (T:1.5)
  • Size (Micro)
  • Favorite points (The number in the square box on the right)

    Selecting one of the caches in the list displays the Cache window.

Cache window

The Cache window shows detailed information about each cache and several tabs appear at the bottom. Slide your finger left and right to see each tab. This is the “Details” tab:

The “Description” tab shows the web page description and the optional hint:
By default, the hint is encrypted. Select it to decrypt the hint. You can also write a personal note here.

The “logbook” tab displays the logs from other cachers who have searched for this cache and can be a good source of hints if you having trouble finding the cache. Also, if the last few cachers did not find it, you might not want to waste time looking for this cache.

The icons above the blue bar are used to locate the cache.
Selecting the white star in a circle icon displays the Compass window which points you toward the cache:
If you select the white arrow pointing at the dot icon in the Cache window, a menu appears from which you can pick alternative methods to navigate to the cache including driving directions.

Logging a cache

Once you have searched for a cache, the app can log your search result to your account. To log a cache, select the Menu icon at the top right and select “Log Visit”. The Cache Log window appears:
The default search result is “Found it”. If you wish to log a Did Not Find (DNF) or a note, select “Found it” to choose a different type of log. The default date is today. If you are posting logs from a different day, select “Today” and choose a different date. You must always select “Log Text” and enter a note about your find. Then, select the white arrow above the blue line to send your log to the website. The Menu icon has other options including “Repeat last log” so you don’t have to re-enter the log text and “Save offline” where your log is not sent to the website.

Note: It is recommended that new geocachers not log DNFs since the cache may really be there and the Cache Owner (CO) may spend wasted time checking on the cache.

Map window

The Map icon at the top of the Cache List window displays the Map window which shows the nearby caches that the app has downloaded:

The blue arrow is your location and you can select any of the caches on the screen and navigate to it.

Home window

The Home window is the first window that you see when starting c:geo

The two most used icons on the home screen are:

  • Live Map: If you have an active cell connection, a map window will appear and the caches in your immediate area will be downloaded and displayed.
  • Stored: Shows caches already stored in c:geo such as the caches in the PQ file that you download for each SIR activity.

In the top bar:

  • The Magnifying Glass icon searches for specific caches.
  • The Clock icon shows your historical activity.
  • The Menu (3 Vertical Dots on the far right) displays Settings to configure c:geo.