How do I import a TIFF (.TIF) file?

Here we describe how to import a TIF file, verify that it has an appropriate georeference and set the Projection if necessary to create a usable Raster layer.

Create a New Map in Cartographica

With Cartographica open, choose File > New Map to begin a new map. This step isn't strictly necessary if you want to add a layer to an existing map, but we will use a new map for illustration purposes.

Verify that the .TFW file is the correct type


In order for Cartographica to understand the location for the raster data, there needs to be a .TFW file in the same folder as the .TIF file. Even when you have a .TFW file, it can sometimes be downloaded from a server incorrectly, so we will verify the correct type of the file in this step. In an attempt to be more user-friendly, sometimes the Finder will hide the true extension of a file such as the .TFW file, making it appear to the user as a .TFW, but to the computer as a .txt file. This happens most often when downloading files from the Internet from servers that don't understand the contents of the files being downloaded.

In the Finder, select the file and choose File > Get Info

Then, in the Name & Extension box (See the hilight below), make sure that the extension ends at .TFW and that the Hide Extension box is not checked.

Import the TIF file into your new map


Either Drag the file from the Finder and drop it into the Map, or choose File > Import Raster Data... to add the TIF file to your map.

Once loaded, the image should appear in the map view and the name of the file should be in the Layer Stack.

Chances are, you will see a yellow warning triangle (1 in the figure here) next to the name of the layer in the Layer Stack, which is an indication that Cartographica needs some more information about your TIF file in order to position it correctly in the world.

This is a good time to zoom in on your data and verify that it is oriented correctly. If the TFW file wasn't correctly read, it is a common occurance for the imagery to appear upside-down or backwards. In this case, re-verify the TFW file. If you don't have a TFW file, or if there is something wrong with it that prevents Cartographica from reading it, you may need to manually georeference your image. This is a tedious process, so if there's a possibility that the TFW exists, it's better to find it and use it when you import the TIF file. If you fix an errant type or find a matching TFW file later, you'll need to delete the existing raster layer and then re-import it after putting the two files in the same folder.

Click on the warning triangle


Click on the yellow warning triangle in order to verify the particular problem, which in this case is a missing CRS. And then click Set CRS so that we can resolve this.

Search for your Projection/CRS


After clicking on Set CRS, the Set Projection window will be displayed so that you can set the CRS for this layer. Type in the Name box (1) to search for the coordinate system for the imported raster image, or manually look for it in the list below (2), clicking on the disclosure triangles to open each group.

If you find the projection/coordinate reference system you need, select it and click Set in the window, you may then skip to the next step.

Import a new Projection/CRS if necessary

Cartographica comes with a limited number of pre-installed CRSs. However, it is simple to add a new Projection/CRS to Cartographica's lists. This is done automatically when a layer is imported that has a built-in projection/crs reference, but you can also do it manually by dropping a .PRJ file into the Set Projection window.

PRJ files often accompany imagery or sidecar files or can be found in internet-based repositories, such as the excellent

Once you have acquired the appropriate .PRJ file, drag it from the finder and drop it into the list of names on the left of the window.

The new CRS will appear at the top of the list (as well as in the User Defined section) and you can then select it and click Set.

Add a Live Map layer to verify positioning


The Live Map feature of Cartographica is useful for verifying that things are positioned correctly. Once you have imported the file and set the CRS, it's a good idea to double-check that the information is in the right place. In this example, we'll use Bing Maps, but you might use OpenStreetMap or even another known-good image or vector file.

For our example, choose File > Add Live Map... and then choose Bing Maps and whatever type of image you would be most comfortable with. We used Aerial Imagery in our example.

Once complete, the map view will look something like this:

Adjust opacity and zoom and pan to check alignment


Although this looks like it is likely similar, you probably want to look a bit closer. One great tool for making this easier is the Opacity slider in the Raster Layer Style, which makes a layer partially transparent so that you can verify it more closely. Either double-click on your raster layer, or choose the layer in the Layer Stack and click the Styles... button at the bottom of the window and the Raster Layer Style window will come up.

This window contains live controls, so you can adjust the slider while you scroll and zoom the map, making it easier to check any particular location. As illustrated here, we're looking at the edge of the map and the shoreline is matching up very closely with the shoreline from Bing Maps with our opacity set at just below 50%.

At this point, you're all set. Set the opactity back to where you want it and close the Style window.

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    This was a very helpful tutorial.  I followed it step by step including adding a projection I had to download and was able to have my data all align.  Now I am able to create a base maps for my work area and move seamlessly between topo maps and Bing Live Map interface as well as use the topos on my Cartomobile.


    Thanks Gaige

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