Mind your Ps and Qs: A How To Guide on Pocket Queries

Pocket Queries (PQs) are custom searches that you can download to your device, whether it be a GPSr or a smartphone. They are an extremely useful tool to use when planning a day of geocaching. Please note that pocket queries are a premium member only feature. I hope this blog post will serve as a ‘how-to’ for those who haven’t entered the wonderful world of PQs yet!

1. Under the ‘Play’ menu, click on ‘Pocket Queries’.

2. Click on ‘Create a new Query’. (I’ll look at ‘Find Caches Along a Route’ in another post).


3 A. Choose a name for your query. For this example, I’m going to run a query of caches in Dublin, so I’ll call it ‘Dublin.’ If you are looking for specific caches, for example, multi caches with higher terrains, you can choose a name like ‘Multi High T Query’. You can call it what you want, but if you’re going to keep it for a while, it’s worthwhile calling it something that will tell you what kind of caches it contains, in case you forget.

3 B. Choose a day of the week to run the query. If you want the query to generate immediately, choose whatever day it is today. NOTE: If you don’t choose a day, you won’t receive an email with the PQ file to download.

3 C. You need to check one of three options. ‘Uncheck the day of the week after the query runs‘ will run the query once but keep the search parameters so you can run it again in future, without having to put in all the details again. ‘Run this query every week on the days checked’ will run the same query once a week on the chosen day. This is useful for a query you run of caches near home as it will update once a week. ‘Run this query once then delete it‘ does what it says on the tin: it will create the query once and then delete it.

3 D. This is the number of results (caches) the PQ will include. The maximum number is 1,000. You will easily fit 1,000 on a GPSr like a Garmin Oregon or Colorado as they have large memories, but devices with smaller memories will not function well with higher numbers. Likewise, if you’re downloading the PQ to your phone, the number of caches in your query will depend on the size of your phone’s memory.


4 A. Now you need to choose a cache type. You can choose multiple cache types by clicking on each one individually. The search defaults to ‘Any Type’, so you can leave this if you want to include all types on the PQ.

4 B. Likewise, you need to choose container size. You can choose multiple container sizes by clicking on each one individually. The search defaults to ‘Any Container’, so you can leave this if you want to include all types on the PQ.


5.  You can really tailor your search here. If you are creating a PQ for your home area, it could be useful to choose only caches that you haven’t found and you don’t own. You can choose precisely which caches you want to have in your query. ‘For members only’ means caches that have been marked as premium members only.

You can also choose specific difficulty and terrain ratings, which is useful if you are looking for specific combinations to fill your DT grid (which maps all 81 possible difficulty and terrain combinations) or if you want to specifically find lower terrain ratings if you’re caching with young children, for example.


6. Next up you have the option to choose a country or state/province. If you are planning a big trip and need a big area to cover, you can use these parameters. To narrow down the location of the search, see step 7 below.


7 A. I use the ‘From Origin’ search a lot more than the ‘Within’ search. If you are doing a search for caches around your home area, you can choose ‘My Home Location’. When I’m planning a trip somewhere, I tend to find a geocache in the middle and use its GC code as my search centre. The postal code search option appears to only work for US post codes.

7 B. You can set your radius to be in miles of kilometres depending on your preferences. Keep in mind that for locations saturated with caches, a search request for 500 caches within a radius of 100 miles, is likely to only return a maximum of a 10 mile radius, as the maximum number of results is 500.


8. The ‘Placed During’ search box is interesting if you’re looking for caches placed during specific years, months or even on a specific day. If this doesn’t matter, you can just leave it at the default setting of ‘None Selected’.


9. Next you can choose which attributes you want to include or exclude. This is useful if you want to rule out caches that require, for example, the use of a boat or involve tree climbing, but you want to include caches that are recommended for kids. There are also attribute challenges available, so this is an easy way to find out which caches will help you qualify. If you want to leave this blank, just skip over it, as there are no specific attributes chosen as default.


10. Now you’re ready to submit all the information you’ve chosen! Your email address will appear and you will have 2 choices for the format of the data you want to receive: .gpx or .loc files. A GPX file is by far the best option and indeed, the menu defaults to this format. GPX files will include lots of useful information like hints, recent logs and cache descriptions. LOC files will only give you the coordinates, the cache name and the waypoint names.


11. Once you have pressed ‘Submit Information’, a green line will appear at the top of the page, just under the ‘New Pocket Query’ heading, telling you how many results your PQ has returned. It will also give you the option to preview the search. Clicking here will bring you to a list of all the caches in your query.


12. In the meantime, you should have received an email telling you that your pocket query is now available. The email will give you the option to ‘View results’ (which again gives you a list of the caches on geocaching.com) or ‘Download now’, which downloads the GPX or LOC file to your computer.

screenshot 12

Transferring a PQ to your GPSr

You can click ‘download now’ on the email you received or go to the Pocket Queries section on the website and click on the ‘Pocket Queries Ready for Download’ tab.


Click on the PQ name to start the download. A zipped (compressed) folder containing two .GPX files will download and look like this when you open it.


One file contains the cache information; the other contains the waypoint information. Waypoints include things like trailheads, parking coordinates or stages for multi-caches.

At this point, you should have your GPSr plugged in to your computer. Open the GPS file (mine is a Garmin) and click on the GPX folder. This is the location to drag the .GPX files to. Once the files are in that folder, you can safely remove your device.

PQ collage

When you turn on your device, the caches will appear in the geocaching section.

Transferring a PQ to your smartphone using the iPhone app

Firstly, I should mention that the ability to download PQs to your phone is not currently available on the free Geocaching Intro app, but it might be in future. These instructions relate to the paid Geocaching App for iPhone.

Any active pocket queries that you create (excluding your My Finds query which I haven’t talked about yet), will automatically appear in the paid official Geocaching App. Click on pocket queries, and choose the pocket query you wish to view. This will bring you in to the map. Click on the three dots in the top right hand corner.

PQ collage2.jpg

From here, choose the option ‘Save to Offline List’ and you will have the option to create a new list, or add to an existing list. If you choose to create a new list, the name will default to the pocket query name. You have the option to include the download of cache images, OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap. Cache images are useful to have in the field if you are looking for hints but it can take a while for them to download so if you’re in a hurry, you can turn off that option. The alternative maps are really a matter of whether or not you prefer these map types to the default maps on the app.

iPhone PQ collage2

After pressing save, the download will begin. Once it’s finished, the PQ will appear under the ‘Saved’ tab on your app home screen, along with your souvenirs and any other lists you have saved.

PQ collage

By downloading the PQ on to your phone, you don’t need to worry about having phone reception when you’re out caching.

Things to Remember 

There is a limit to the number of pocket queries you can run within a certain timeframe. You can create 10 PQs every day.

The My Finds pocket query can be run every 3 days and gives details of all your finds to date. This is useful data when exporting to a tool such as GSAK or My Geocaching Profile, so you can displayed detailed statistics relating to your finds.

My Finds

To delete any of your pocket queries, you just tick the one you want to delete and press ‘Delete Selected’:


I hope you find this post useful. Please feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments!

Happy caching!


© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

10 thoughts on “Mind your Ps and Qs: A How To Guide on Pocket Queries

  1. You forgot one geo cacher. The one that buys a Magellan 610 and cant get a cache downloaded
    from your computer. when I follow all the instructions on the computer it says error


  2. I found this to be particularly helpful with clear, step-by-step instructions. It is perfect for me as I want it to work, and work now! Thank you 🙂
    Heading to the Wicklow hills tomorrow with two PQs – one on the Garmin (Etrex 20) plus on the ‘old app’ for the iphone. I should be covered?!

    Liked by 1 person

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