Select Background Maps

Tableau comes with a set of online and offline background maps that you can access to create map views.

By default, Tableau connects to an online map provider.

The three background maps that come with Tableau are described below. They can be found in the Maps > Background Maps menu. If the workbook author has added a WMS server or Mapbox map to the workbook, they will be listed using the name the author gave them in the Maps > Background Maps menu as well.

None Displays data between latitude and longitude axes.
Offline This background map stores the images that make up the map in a cache on your machine for improved performance and offline access. For more information, see the offline maps section below.
Tableau Connects to the Tableau background map. By default, all map views connect to this background map, unless you specify otherwise.

To select a new background map:

  • In Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, or Tableau Cloud, select Map > Background Maps and then select the background map you want to use.

Note: In Tableau Server, your administrator can restrict you to using only Offline maps. The specific server commands to configure this behavior can be found here(Link opens in a new window).

Set a default background map in Tableau Desktop

By default, all map views connect to the Tableau background map. In Tableau Desktop, if you do not want maps views to automatically be created with the Tableau background map, you can specify a different background map as the default.

To specify a default background map:

  1. In Tableau Desktop, select Map > Background Maps, and then select the background map that you want to make the default.

  2. Select Map > Background Maps > Set as Default to set the selected background map to the default.

    The background map is automatically saved as a Tableau Map Source (.tms) and placed in the Mapsources folder of your My Tableau Repository. It is now the default background map for all new worksheets.

Use the Offline background map in Tableau Desktop, Tableau Cloud, or Tableau Server

You can create and inspect data in a map view offline using the offline background map that comes with Tableau Desktop.

To use the offline background map:

  • In Tableau, select Map > Background Maps > Offline

Note: The offline background map uses map images stored on your machine. You can find these images in the following locations:

  • On Windows: C:\Program Files\Tableau\<Tableau Version>\Local\Maps
  • On Mac: //Applications/<Tableau Version>.app/Contents/install/local/maps

There are several actions, however, that require Tableau to retrieve a map image that may not be stored. If the new map image is not stored on your machine, you won’t be able to load the map until you reconnect to the online map that comes with Tableau.

You may need to reconnect to the online map if you would like to do one or more of the following:

  • Turn layers on or off - if you decide to turn on a layer that isn’t stored in the cache, Tableau will need to connect to retrieve the necessary information.

  • Zoom in or out - zooming in or out on a map requires different map images. If the images at the specified zoom level don’t exist in the cache, Tableau will need to retrieve the updated maps.

  • Pan - panning sometimes requires new map images. If you are working offline and don’t have the necessary map images and legends stored in the cache, the new images and legends will not load.

To reconnect to the Tableau map:

  • On Tableau Desktop, select Map > Background Maps > Tableau

Note: If you set a map to Offline and then publish the workbook, the published workbook will still use the Offline, stored maps, with all of the functionality and limitations of Offline maps noted above.

About the Tableau background map

The Tableau background map includes updated map and demographic data, as well as stylistic improvements. It has taken the place of the Tableau classic background map. Any map view created with an earlier version of Tableau Desktop, and with a connection to the Tableau classic background map, will automatically connect to the Tableau background map when opened in Tableau Desktop version 9.0 or later.

Note: If you create a map view with data layers in Tableau Desktop version 8.3 or earlier using the Tableau classic background map, and then open that view in Tableau Desktop 9.0 or later, the color of the data layers may appear differently due to data layering and color ramp (color palette) improvements made to the Tableau background map.

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