Needs Updated

Getting Started


Google Earth Toolbars

Check out each menu to see what is available in Google Earth. Tools > Play Tour is a real attention-getter.
Place your cursor over each icon to see what tasks may be performed. Viewing the Sun is pretty cool!

Google Earth Interface

When you first open Google Earth, you will see three task panes in the left hand panel (Search, Places, Layers) and a view of the globe in the main window.

Search Task Pane

On the "Fly To" tab, you may type specific addresses (such as your home address) and Google Earth will "fly" to that location. Or you may type a city or a country. Try different types of sites and see where you go! If you have the GPS coordinates of a specific location, you may type them in the "Fly To" box to go to that exact spot.

When you find a location that you want to save, simply drag it from the Search results box and drop it in the My Places Folder in the Places task pane. You may prefer to create your own Placemarker for a given location. Instructions on how to do this are found on the 2 - Adding Markers page.

Places Task Pane

By default, Google Earth provides you with My Places and Temporary Places folders. When you drag and drop a location into My Places, you may save it for later use by going to File > Save... > Save Place As and giving it a meaningful filename.

If you plan to create a group of related locations, you may find it beneficial to create a folder to store them in by right clicking My Places > Add > Folder. You may drag and drop individual locations into any folder you create. Then you may save the entire folder with multiple locations within.

Any boxes with checkmarks in them (see picture to the right) indicate that all of the contents of that folder or the individual location itself will be displayed in the Google Earth viewer. The " + " indicates there is additional information that is not shown - simply click the " + " to expand the folder and its contents.

If you do not want a particular location or group of locations to be displayed in the Google Earth viewer, simply uncheck the relevant boxes in the list of Places.

Layers Task Pane

Google Earth provides a wealth of content in addition to satellite imagery of the world. However, the more content you choose to display as you tour the world, the slower your experience will be. For the least cluttered view and most responsive tour, expand the entire Primary Database folder by clicking the "+" sign and UNCHECK all the features except those shown on the left. You may always go back later to the Layers Task Pane and turn on features you would like to use or display.

Click here to learn more about Layers and all the information contained in them.

Navigating a View in Google Earth

The default view in Google Earth is a flat, looking-down-upon view of the Earth's surface. You may zoom in and out, rotate the orientation through the four directions of the compass, and tilt from a flat view to one that shows the horizon. These tasks are accomplished using the controls in the upper right corner of the viewer window (see below).

The horizontal slider bar controls TILT.
The vertical slider bar controls ZOOM.
The circular slider controls ORIENTATION.

Test these controls and get familiar with them!

Click here to view a tutorial about navigating Google Earth.
The uppermost "Look" joystick allows the user to adjust their view as if they were looking around from a single vantage point by scrolling around the outer circle. You may also turn and tilt by manipulating the arrows on the inner circle.

The middle "Move" joystick icon allows the user to move about the terrain in any direction, but staying in the current view (no tilt or zoom).

The vertical slider bar controls ZOOM in and out of the current view.

By default, Google Earth tilts the view as one zooms closer to the Earth's surface. To turn off this feature, go to Tools > Options > Navigation > Navigation controls.

How to TILT the view using your mouse: "If your mouse has either a middle button or a depressible scroll wheel, you can tilt the view by depressing the button and moving the mouse forward or backward. If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can tilt the view by pressing the SHIFT key and scrolling. You can also press Shift and the left mouse button and drag. Note that crosshairs appear and that your view tilts from this point." (Google Earth)

I have found these new controls a bit tricky to use, but am beginning to like them.

Click here to read instructions on how to use them.

Default Google Earth View
Zoom View
Tilt View

GoogleEarth has a satellite database that is interesting to see just how many "eyes in the sky" there are.

Some Google Earth satellite overlays for weather can be found here...

You can track satellites in real time here: