Advanced user guide

Repositioning placemarks

When editing placemarks or geometry, you might want to reposition their location on the earth. The 'Edit Placemark' dialog box offers a number of ways to reposition a placemark.

Dragging the Placemark

When you edit a placemark, a yellow square appears around the icon, indicating that you can reposition the icon if you desire. Just click within the square and drag the icon to the new location. If you need to move the earth to get a better view of the icon relative to other things, position the mouse outside the square to move the 3D viewer.

You can also lock the placemark to the center of the view.

Locking a Placemark to the Center of the View

With this feature, you reposition the earth under the placemark, rather than repositioning the placemark over the earth. This feature is useful if you want to move a placemark a distance that extends beyond the view, and using drag and drop is inconvenient as you switch from dragging the icon to repositioning the earth.

click the 'View' tab and select the 'Center in View' check box. When you choose this option, the placemark moves to the center of the 3D viewer and cannot be repositioned by dragging. Instead, you position the icon by dragging the earth, which then moves independently of the placemark. This feature allows you to easily position an icon to a new location beyond your current screen space.

Entering Advanced Coordinates

Tip - You can change how Google Earth displays coodinates in the 3D viewer.

If you know the latitude and longitude for the placemark you are editing, click the View tab and enter coordinates to reposition the geographic point for the placemark. The placemark adjusts its position to the new values.

Latitude and Longitude values can be set using the following notations:

  • Decimal Degrees (DDD) - In this notation, decimal precision is set in the 'degree' coordinate. For example, 49.11675953666N.
  • Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds (DMS) - In this notation, decimal precision is set in the 'seconds' coordinate. For example, 49 7'20.06"N.
  • Degrees, Minutes with Decimal Seconds (DMM) - In this notation, decimal precision is set in the 'minutes' coordinate. For example, 49 7.0055722"N. (Here, 20.06 seconds above is divided by 3600 to get the decimal minute value for 20.06 seconds.)

Latitude and Longitude syntax is specified as follows:

  • Numeric Values - Simply separate each coordinate notation with a white space and the entry will be recognized correctly. For example, you can indicate a DMS notation as: 37 24 23.3. You could indicate a DMM notation as 49 7.0055722.

    You can also use the single quote mark (') for minutes and the double quote mark (") for seconds, as follows: 49 7'20.06"

    Alternatively, you can use the Character Map utility in Windows to copy the degree symbol and paste it into the Latitude/Longitude input boxes. To do this, select Start - All Programs - Accessories - System Tools, and then click Character Map. The degree symbol with Arial font is the second entry past the registration symbol. Click on the symbol, click the Copy button and paste it into the input box.

    On the Mac, open TextEdit. Press Shift + Option +8. The degree symbol appears. Copy and paste this into the input box.
  • Direction Notation (North/South, East/West)

    Use 'N', 'S', 'E', or 'W' to indicate direction. The letter can be entered either upper or lower case and it can be placed before or after the coordinate value. For example:
    N 37 24 23.3 is the same as 37 24 23.3 N

    You can also use the minus sign (-) to indicate a westerly or southerly position. When you use this kind of notation, do not specify a letter symbol. Additionally, you do not need to use a plus sign (+) to indicate northerly/easterly directions. So, for example this is a valid entry:
    37 25 19.07, -122 05 08.40

    The following is NOT a valid entry:
    37 25 19.07 N, -122 05 08.40
  • Entering Latitude, Longitude Pairs

    When entering latitudinal or longitudinal pairs, the first coordinate is interpreted as latitude unless you use a direction letter to clarify (E or W). For example, you can enter longitude first as:
    122 05 08.40 W 37 25 19.07 N

    However, you cannot use the minus sign to enter longitude first:
    -122 05 08.40 37 25 19.07

    You can separate pair entries with a space, a comma, or a slash:
    37.7 N 122.2 W
    37.7 N,122.2 W
    37.7 N/122.2 W
Tip - When entering advanced coordinates, the location for your placemark will adjust as soon as your cursor exits the input box, but the view will remain the same. Your placemark will seem to disappear from view. To see the placemark in the 3D viewer, click the 'View' tab and click the Reset to default view button. Your 3D viewer will now be positioned over the placemark in its new location.

Setting the View

When you create a new placemark, the view for that placemark (i.e., how it is seen in the 3D viewer) is automatically set to the current view on creation. However, you can change the view for any placemark and save it so that each visit to the placemark shows the saved view. This involves specifying a particular orientation around a given place and then setting the orientation.

For example, after first viewing a particular place, you might subsequently find a position that you like to view it from, such as at a specific tilt angle and from a southerly direction. Rather than the default north-south, overhead viewpoint of a location, you can specify your preferred position as the view for every time you visit.


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Top-down, north up view
Imagery Date: May 31, 2007.
c. 2010 TerraMetrics

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Tilted and rotated view
Imagery Date: May 31, 2007.
c. 2010 TerraMetrics

Setting a view for a folder serves a different purpose than for an individual item.

Applying a New View

First, position the 3D viewer at the viewing orientation you desire and then choose one of the following options:

  • Right-click the item in the list view or the 3D view and select Snapshot View from the pop-up menu.

    The current view inside the Google Earth client 3D viewer is then set as the view for the selected placemark or folder. You can examine the actual settings for the view by editing the placemark or folder and clicking on the 'View'.
  • Edit the placemark or folder - Right-click the folder or icon and select Properties from the pop-up menu. Click on the 'View' tab in the Edit... dialog box. The current values for the view are displayed. When you are ready to set the view (you can still position the view at this point), click the Snapshot current view button.

    Alternatively, you can manually enter the settings if you have them. Click the OK button to see the changes in the 3D viewer.
Note - When you change the values for a view, the 3D viewer changes only the view for the selected item, not the position of the placemark (or folder) itself. Conceivably, you could even set the view for a placemark so that the placemark icon is not visible in the 3D viewer.

Returning to the Default, Top-Down View

Right-click the folder or icon and select Edit... from the pop-up menu. Click on the 'View' tab in the Edit... dialog box. Click the 'Reset view'. The view updates to the default orientation for the selected item.