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Resolving crashing and graphics issues on a Mac

This article explains how to fix the following issues:

  • An 'Unknown Graphics Card' error
  • A 'Missing .dll' error
  • A white globe in Google Earth
  • Patches, green squares, flashing lines, flickering, or blacked out areas in the 3D view
  • Any other graphical or display errors
  • Any crashes

Google Earth requires the use of a graphics card or an integrated graphics processor (IGP) with 3d capabilities to run. These devices enable a computer to process and deliver graphics, animation, and videos.

If you don't have an installed compatible graphics card or IGP, the following solutions won't address your issue. You can add or upgrade both, but we can't give recommendations for specific hardware.

There are several reasons why Google Earth might display strange graphics behavior or suddenly crash, but the most common reasons are:


  • An outdated graphics card
  • A corrupt myplaces.kml file that is crashing your system upon launch
  • known issue with a Mac graphics card


In most cases, you should be able to resolve your issue by working through the steps below. It's best to work through these steps in sequential order. However, you can proceed directly to any step if you believe you know the problem.

Step 1: Clearing Your Cache

Before making any changes, you should first try Clearing your Cache. This step will often resolve issues like strange patches of imagery appearing in the wrong location.

Please follow these steps to delete your cache:

  1. Select File > Server Log out.
  2. Select Google Earth > Preferences > Cache.
  3. Select Delete Cache File (only when logged out).

If you can't log in to Google Earth, you'll need to delete these files from your directory folder. Please follow these steps to delete 'dbCache.dat' and 'dbCache.dat.index':

  1. From the Finder, open the Home Directory icon labeled with your user ID.
  2. Select Library > Caches > Google Earth.
  3. Look for the 'dbCache.dat' files.
  4. Ctrl-click both the 'dbCache.dat' and 'dbCache.dat.index' files and select Move to Trash to delete these files.

These files will be regenerated the next time you log in to Google Earth.

If clearing your cache didn't resolve the issue, you can also try turning off Atmosphere.

Step 2: Turning Off Atmosphere

To turn off Atmosphere, please follow these steps:

  • Go to the View menu.
  • Deselect the option labeled Atmosphere.


If you're still experiencing issues after turning off Atmosphere, you may need to update your graphics card drivers. In order to do this, you'll first need to determine which graphics card you have.

Step 3: Determining which Graphics Card You Have

If you're using Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and you'd like to access your graphics card information, please follow these steps:

1. Select the Apple menu.
2. Choose About this Mac.
3. Choose More Info and open your System Profiler.
4. Expand the Hardware section of Contents if required.
5. Select Graphics/Displays (on 10.3.9 select PCI/AGP Cards).

For additional information on gathering your graphics card information, please visit the Earth Help Forum .

Step 4: Updating Your Graphics Card Drivers

If you're using Mac OS X 10.4.0 and later, you can update your graphics card driver by installing the latest system updates. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Select the Apple menu.
  2. Select Software Update.
  3. If you don't see Mac OS X Update on this list, your system is already up-to-date. If you do see Mac OS X Update on the list, place a check mark next to it.
  4. Select Install Item.

This update will deliver overall improved reliability for Mac OS X and is recommended for all users. It includes fixes for Core Graphics, Core Audio, Core Image, RAW camera support. It also updates ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers.

Step 5: Removing a Corrupt myplaces.kml File

If Google Earth Pro is crashing at startup even after attempting all of the above steps, it's possible that you have a corrupt myplaces.kml file that is crashing the system upon launch. The best way to fix this problem is to back up your places data, clear out the Google Earth application folder, and perform a clean startup.


  • Make sure that Google Earth Pro is closed.
  • Navigate to Macintosh HD > (Your Username) > Library > Application Support > Google Earth.
  • Finder should now open up a folder showing you several Google Earth Pro Files, including: My Style Templates Folder, myplaces.kml, myplaces.backup.kml, and myplaces.kml.tmp.
  • Make a copy of all of the files in the GoogleEarth folder, and save them in a different location, such as a folder on your desktop.
  • Delete everything in the GoogleEarth folder (make sure you've backed everything up first!)
  • Close the GoogleEarth folder and open Google Earth.
  • After logging in to the server, Google Earth Pro should create new files in the GoogleEarth folder to replace the ones you've moved out.


If you're still experiencing issues after attempting all of these steps, there may be something else wrong with your machine. Try uninstalling Google Earth completely and reinstalling the application.