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Import data from GPS devices

If you have a supported GPS device, you can track data in Google Earth.

What you'll need

  • A serial or USB cable.

Choose which GPS points to see in Google Earth

  • Tracks: Automatically recorded by the GPS device as you travel.
  • Waypoints: Your saved locations, such as "home."
  • Routes: Used by the GPS device to create a route from one recorded point to another recorded point. Routes can contain multiple sets of directions and can be imported into Google Earth as paths.

Import GPS Data

There are two ways to import your GPS data into Google Earth:

Import a data file
  1. Drag the file into Google Earth.
  2. Choose how you want the data displayed.To save the data, drag the file into the "My Places" folder.
Import from your device

Make sure any needed GPS device drivers are installed on your computer.

  1. Open Google Earth.
  2. Turn off the GPS device and connect it to your computer.
  3. Turn on the GPS device.
  4. Click Tools Next GPS. The "GPS Import" window opens.
  5. Choose how you want the data displayed.
  6. Click Import.

After you import GPS data

Choose how to see your data

  • Create KML tracks: A line of GPS data that includes a time element. If available in the source data, tracks can also store additional sensor data such as heart rate, cadence, temperature, and power.

    Note: KML tracks are recommended for Google Earth 5.2 or later.
     
  • Create KML LineStrings: A line of GPS data that isn’t associated with a time element and shows individual points that make up your track.

    Note: To see elevation and location information, use the balloons associated with each point.
     
  • Adjust Altitudes to Ground Height: Adjusts all recorded points to ground level.

    Note: Do not use this if your GPS track was recorded while traveling by air, such as hang gliding or flying on a plane.

Troubleshoot importing issues

  • If the import takes a long time, try to decrease the sampling rate when collecting your GPS data. Most GPS receivers allow you to set the track sampling rate.
  • If you get a connection error, restart the GPS device and return to Step 5 under "Import from your device."

Find imported GPS data files

Your data appears in the Places panel with the label GPS Device. If you expand the GPS Device folder, you can see your GPS data sorted into separate folders by data type.

Real-Time GPS Tracking

If you connect your laptop to a GPS device while you’re traveling, you can see your GPS location in real time in Google Earth.

  1. Follow steps 1-6 under Import GPS data.
  2. In the "GPS Import" window, click Realtime.
  3. Select the appropriate options:
    • Select protocol: If you're not sure what to use, choose "NMEA."
    • Track point import limit: The max number of positions that are saved and drawn on the screen.
    • Polling interval (seconds): How often Google Earth gets data from the GPS device.
    • Automatically follow the path: Centers the 3D viewer and follows the current GPS track.
  4. Click Start.