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Importing imagery

This feature is available to Google Earth Pro and Google Earth EC customers only.

You can open GIS imagery files in Google Earth Pro or EC and have the files correctly projected over the proper map coordinates in the 3D viewer. Google Earth Pro and EC support the following types of GIS imagery:

  • TIFF (.tif), including GeoTiff and compressed TIFF files
  • National Imagery Transmission Format (.ntf)
  • Erdas Imagine Images (.img)

In addition, you can also import the following images. Because they do not contain projection information, you must manually edit their coordinates for correct positioning. Be sure that all imagery files contain the correct projection information to ensure they will be accurately re-projected in Google Earth Pro.

  • Atlantis MFF Raster (.hdr)
  • PCIDSK Database File (.pix)
  • Portable Pixmap Format (.pnm)
  • Device Independent Bitmap (.bmp)
Note: If the image you're importing is larger than your machine's max texture size, the image will be converted to a Super Image Overlay.

The rest of this section covers:

Opening GIS Imagery

Use any one of the methods below to open the imagery file in Google Earth Pro or EC:

  • Select Open from the 'File' menu.
  • Drag the desired file from an explorer window and drop it over the viewer.

Google Earth then attempts to reproject the image to a Simple Cylindrical, WGS84 coordinate system. From this, it creates an overlay with the image converted to PNG format. The overlay edit window appears, and you can set the location of the new overlay in any folder inside the 'Places' panel. You can also set the properties for the GIS imagery as you would any other overlay.

The following should be noted when importing GIS imagery data:

  • The reprojected image is saved as an overlay. The image is saved under the Google Earth directory on your hard drive. The name of the PNG file is based on the source file name and the scaling or cropping parameters selected when importing the overlay. (See below for more information on scaling or cropping an image.
  • For larger image files, reprojection can take some time.

    If you have cropped or scaled an input image, or if you are reprojecting an image that uses more texture memory, you will see a progress meter while the reprojection occurs. You can cancel the operation at any time. Images that contain no projection information are treated as ordinary overlay files.

    In this case, you can position the image manually as you would an overlay image.
  • Images that contain incorrect or unsupported projection information will not be imported.

    In this case, a dialog box indicates that the reprojection cannot be performed and the image will not be imported.
Note - Currently, files using NAD83 projection are not supported by Google Earth.

Saving GIS Imagery

Once you have imported imagery data into Google Earth Pro or EC, you can save content changes made to the imported GIS data as follows:

  • Move the imported imagery to remain in your 'My Places' folder - If you have already placed the imagery overlay within the 'My Places' folder, any changes you make to it are automatically saved and viewable each time you start Google Earth.
  • Save the imagery overlay as a KMZ file - If you wish to remove the imported imagery from your 'My Places' folder, you can right-click the item and select Save As... from the pop-up menu and save the GIS overlay as a KMZ file to your computer's hard drive or other accessible file location. After that, you can delete the overlay from your 'My Places' list and open it later when you need it.