SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger | Setup (Custom Messages)

The primary reason for this post is to walk you through how to set up custom messages. SPOT could do a little better job, in my opinion, instructing us on how this is done, but I finally found it through their website and by watching other YouTube channels.

SPOT Gen 4

Walk with me through the process of how to activate your SPOT Gen 3 and how to create custom messages and we’ll see just how easy or difficult it is to set up the SPOT Gen 3.

Activate your SPOT Account

  1. Go to
  2. Sign into your account or create a new account
  3. Follow the activation instructions
  4. Choose the services you wish to add to your new SPOT Gen3
    1. You will need the ESN and the Auth. Numbers found in the battery compartment of your SPOT Gen3.
    2. Make sure you list any medical conditions, allergies or medicines you are currently taking as this information will be supplied to the search and rescue team and could have an impact on your treatment at the scene.

Initial System Test

  1. Go outside, where the SPOT Gen3 has a clear view of the sky in all directions.
  2. Turn your SPOT on. Press and hold the power button and the lights will illuminate.
  3. Press and hold the “Check In” button until the light blinks green.
  4. Leave your SPOT outdoors until the GPS light blinks green as SPOT acquires a GPS fix. Once your SPOT acquires your GPS location, the GPS Location and Message Sending light will blink green in unison for 15 seconds.
  5. Verify that the message was received in the email or SMS account in your Check contact list.

NOTE: Add your own email or phone number to the contact list so you can also see the results.

SPOT Gen 4

SPOT Gen 3 Messages & Contacts

Setup your custom messages before leaving for home. You can add UP TO 10 contacts prior to heading out on your adventure.

Once you select a subscription plan, you will have your own SPOT page where you can manage your contacts, messages and more.

Go to your account page

SPOT Account Page with My Devices

Select My Devices

My SPOT Device Page

Select “View/Edit”

You will see your Device Settings at the left-hand side and under that you will see “Message Profiles.”

SPOT Custom Messages

Select “Check In”, then “Custom” and also “Help/SPOT S.O.V.” You can enter a personal message in each one of these and then add the email or phone numbers of people for each message. These contacts can be different for each message.

Select “Save” and then go test these messages before you take off on your real adventure.

NOTE: If you’re curious, I used the following custom messages on my SPOT Gen 3:

Check In

“Everything is going well. I’m having a great time on the trail.”

Custom Message

“Everything is fine but I am still on the trail, and I am heading back to the truck now.”


“I need help. Come quickly. My life is not in danger but I need help.”

I chose not to pay for the auto service through SPOT and instead have made a custom message that will go out to a select group of family and friends.

Field Test

My sister was in town visiting so I put her to work to verify that the HELP/SPOT button, the Custom Message, Tracking and Check In buttons all were sending the messages as SPOT’s instructions show they will. Here are a few images below of those messages showing up on my sisters phone.

Check In Test

SPOT Gen 3 Check In Email

This was the first test I made and it took approximately 7 minutes for the message to come in by text and email.

Custom Message Test

SPOT Gen 3 Custom Message

SPOT Gen 3 Custom Message - Map View

This was the 2nd test I ran and it took approximately 2 minutes for the messages to come through.



This was the 3rd test I ran and it took approximately 30 seconds for the messages to come through.

Tracking Test Plus Message Tests

This image from my SPOT app shows the first track pin dropped, then the Check In test, followed by the Custom Message Test with the HELP/SPOT test being last.

The tracking stopped once I started the message tests. I took a longer 7 mile hike since I first wrote this article to see if the tracking stopped after I sent the messages. Here is what I discovered.

After selecting the Check-In:

The tracking continued after selecting the Check-In button.

After selecting the Custom Message:

The tracking continued after selecting the Custom Message button.

After selecting the HELP/SPOT:

The tracking STOPPED after selecting the HELP/SPOT button, but I guess this would be fine as your hike would be over and you would be waiting for help, but remember, this is for non-life-threatening emergencies and the S.O.S. button is for life-threatening events.

Once I saw my HELP/SPOT message was received, I turned off the message. I waited for at least 20 minutes and noticed my tracking function was not active. I then selected the tracking button and the tracking started back up.


SPOT App Tracking & Message Tests

Here is some additional information on the SPOT Gen 3 and its Lights and Buttons.

SPOT Gen 3 Layout & Buttons

Let’s take a look at the lights and functions available on the SPOT Gen 3

SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger Setup

Power Light

Green Light – the Batteries are Good

Red Light – Change the Batteries as Soon as Possible

GPS Light

Green Light – The GPS light blinks green if SPOT sees the GPS satellites and is looking for or has found your GPS location.

Red Light – The GPS light blinks red if the SPOT cannot see the GPS satellites or can’t find your GPS location.

If the GPS blinks red, you should move to a location with a more clear view of the sky.

Messaging Sending Light

The Messaging Sending Light notifies you that your most recent message was sent.

Green Light (blinking) – if the message is being sent

Green Light (stops blinking) – the light will stop blinking if the message sending process is complete.

Red Light (blinking) – Message is unable to send

Red Light (stops blinking) – If the message light is blinking red and then stops blinking, the message was not successfully sent.

Power Button

Press the Power Button to turn the SPOT on. The LED light will illuminate.

Press (and hold) the Power Button until the light blinks rapidly to turn the SPOT off.


S.O.V. = Save Our VehicleSPOT Gen 3 HELP Button

Press and hold the button until the light blinks green. The SPOT sends a message every 5 minutes for 1 hour.

To cancel, press and hold the button until the light blinks red.

This feature is to be used in a NON-LIFE THREATENING SITUATION, such as your car breaking down.

This activates a pre-programmed message along with your GPS location.

Custom Message

Press and hold the button until the function light blinks green. To ensure delivery, leave active for 20 minutes.

This activates a custom message that you create BEFORE you leave on your adventure. This message will be sent to ALL of your contacts with your GPS location.

To cancel, press and hold until the light blinks red.

SPOT Gen 3 (Message - Track - Check In


Press and hold the button until the light blinks green. SPOT will send your tracks in “near” real time to your SPOT share page.

Cancel tracking by pressing the button until the light blinks red.

Check In

Press and hold the button until the light blinks green. Leave active for at least 20 minutes to ensure the message is delivered. This activates a pre-programmed message.

To cancel the message, press and hold the button until the light blinks red.


SPOT Gen 3 SOS ButtonPress and hold the button until the light blinks green. This sends a message every 5 minutes until canceled.

To cancel, press and hold the button until the light blinks red.

Activating the S.O.S. button goes directly to the GEOS International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center and should only be used in critical and life-threatening situations.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to add your contacts and custom messages once you find the right location to select but it took me a little time to find my way around the website.

Check out my SPOT Gen 3 Review page if you would like to learn more about this great Satellite Messenger or you can see a review of all the Personal Locator Beacons and Emergency Satellite Messengers HERE.

Please feel free to ask any question in the Comment Section below or Email Me and I will get back to you right away.

Check out this SPOT Gen 4 field test YouTube video below.

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SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger


World Wide Coverage


2-Way Messaging




Tracking & Sharing


Initial Cost & Subscription Plan



  • Compact & Lightweight
  • SOS Distress Call
  • Track & Share with Friends
  • Rental Options
  • Low Initial Purchase Price


  • Only 1-Way Communication
  • No Smartphone Interface
  • No Navigation

6 thoughts on “SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger | Setup (Custom Messages)”

  1. I read your article and it was really helpful. I never thought that the SPOT Gen 3 Satelite Messager could save anyone’s life as if they lose connection sometimes during the hike. That’s great idea to get that one though. Someday, I will use it whenever I plan to go for hiking. Thanks for sharing that one with me.

    • Thank you Carolyn for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      The SPOT Gen3 and all of the other satellite messengers use satellites to keep in contact with people and emergency services around the world but you do need a view of the sky so your device can get a signal from the satellites.


  2. This is a great guide to setting up the SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger device. This is a vital device that I for one am glad is available to help in all kinds of emergency situations in remote and austere locations. I can see how this device will save countless lives.

    It is quite a versatile device too. I had no idea that it had as many features as you describe in the setup process. Most definitely it is something that I am considering for my daughter and her family as they are wanderers and do go quite deep into woods, mountains, etc.

    Is this the top of the line model in this product line? I would imagine it is expensive, perhaps there are some comparable options that are a little less expensive? In any case, spending money on a quality device like this is never a bad move in my mind (for peace of mind!). 

  3. I have a Gen3 that I have never (thankfully) had to use. I also have a Spot X, also never used. I tried to re-sell the Gen3 in my small community. There was interest but nobody bought it. People were more interested in the Spot X. Although I had discontinued the annual plan for the Gen3 back then, I see no need to have two devices so I was thinking of re-selling the Spot X since I’d have a better chance to sell it. I really only need a satellite messenger service in case of SOS or SOV. What would you do? Keep the Gen3 or the Spot X?

    • Hi Helen. Personally, I want to keep my other satellite messengers around when family and friends come to visit and want to go on hiking or backpacking trips with me. The SPOT Gen 3 would be the best satellite messenger to put on a visiting hikers pack and they would need very little instruction about using it.

      I would keep the SPOT X as my primary satellite messenger over the SPOT Gen 3.

      I hope that helps. Have a great day.



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