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Import & change map data

These features are only available in Google Earth Pro.

Import addresses

If you want to see multiple locations around the world, you can import addresses into Google Earth. Each address that you import is converted to a placemark on the Earth.

Guidelines for importing addresses
  • You can only import addresses located within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
  • You cannot use an address that contains a P.O. box.
  • Single-address field: You can define the street, city, state, country, and zip code in a single field.
  • Multiple address fields: You can also define street, city, state, country, and zip code in multiple fields.
  • Partial address default values: If some of your points have partial addresses, you can use the data import wizard to define default values for missing fields, such as state or zip code.
Import address data from a CSV file

If you would like to practice importing data, you can download a sample CSV file to use with the steps. Or follow these steps with your own CSV file.

  1. Open Google Earth. Then, click File Next Import.
  2. Browse to the location of the the sample file and select it. Then, click Open. The Data Import Wizard appears.
  3. Choose the following options:
    • "Field Type" Delimited
    • "Delimited" Comma
  4. Use the preview pane to ensure your data has imported correctly.
  5. Click Next. Next to "This data does not contain latitude/longitude information," check the box.
  6. Click Next. Choose "Addresses are broken into multiple fields."
  7. Under "Select Address Fields," review the names given to each field.
  8. Click Next. Review the list of fields and the type of data selected for each. Then, click Back.
  9. Click Finish. Google Earth begins geocoding your data.
  10. In the dialog box, to use a style template, click Yes.
  11. Click OK. The "Save Template" dialog box appears. Save the template as a file (.kst) that you can use when you import and format data in the future.

Google Earth displays your address data as icons in the 3D viewer. You can edit the properties of these placemarks as you would any other placemark.

Fix import errors
  • In the preview pane, if the city and state data are in the incorrect columns, your file might contain some addresses with a second address ("Address 2") and some without. To fix this, uncheck "Treat consecutive delimiters as one."
  • If you get an error because Google Earth could not geocode one of your addresses, edit the data or change your import settings in Google Earth.
  • The imported data is located in the Temporary Places folder within the Places Panel. If you want to save imported data, before you exit Google Earth, drag this data out of this folder and choose File Next Save Next Save My Places.

Import images

You can open GIS imagery files to project images embedded with display information over specific map coordinates in the 3D viewer. Files using NAD83 projection are not supported by Google Earth.

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

Other image files

You can also import images if you manually edit their coordinates for correct positioning. Imagery files without the correct projection information will not be accurately re-projected.

  • Portable Network Graphic (.png)
  • Joint Photographic Expert (.jpg)
  • Atlantis MFF Raster (.hdr)
  • PCIDSK Database File (.pix)
  • Portable Pixmap Format (.pnm)
  • Device Independent Bitmap (.bmp)
Open GIS images

You can open GIS images in Google Earth to view them over a map image.

  1. Open Google Earth.
  2. Click File Next Open. Then, choose the file you want to import.The overlay edit window appears.
  3. Set the location of the new overlay in any folder inside the 'Places' panel.
  4. Choose the properties for the GIS image:
  • 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. You can position the image manually as you would an overlay image.
  • Images that contain incorrect or unsupported projection information will not be imported. A dialog box indicates that the reprojection cannot be performed and the image will not be imported.
Save GIS images

Once you have imported imagery data, you can save content changes made to the imported GIS data:

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 when 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:

  1. Right-click the item and select Save As from the pop-up menu.
  2. Then, save the GIS overlay as a KMZ file to your computer's hard drive or other accessible file location.
  3. Delete the overlay from your 'My Places' list and open it when you need it.

Import vector data

You can import files with points, lines, paths, and polygons onto your maps.

  1. Open Google Earth.
  2. Click File Next Open.
  3. Select the type of file you want to import or choose All data import formats.

Once imported, the vector elements appear in the 3D viewer and the imported file is listed under the 'Temporary Places' folder.

Note: If you don't use a style template and your data does not contain a 'Name' field, the first available field that contains text is used as the label for data.

Use third party vector data

Most third party GIS vector data comes as a collection of support files. If expected data does not display in the 3D viewer, it might be due to missing support files.

Vector files and required support files:

  • MapInfo (TAB)
    • MAP ID
    • DAT
  • ESRI Shape (SHP)
    • SHX Index
    • PRJ (required if projection is not WGS84)
    • DBF (attribute data)
  • Generic text files
Import generic text files

You can define your own point data and import it using generic text files.

Generic text files must:

  • Have named columns whose values are separated either by commas, spaces, or tabs.
  • Be saved as either CSV or TXT format.
  • Display coordinates as:
    • Degrees, minutes, seconds (DMS)
    • Decimal degrees (DDD)
    • Degrees, minutes, with decimal seconds (DMM)
  • Contain one or more fields that specify the location of the point on the earth.
  • Not use a mix of geographic coordinates and address fields in a single file.

You can use latitude and longitude coordinates to indicate the position of the point data in your text file.

Optional and Descriptive Fields

You can use any number of fields in your custom data file to label and describe points in Google Earth.

Optional fields can be defined as text or strings:

  • A string field can contain both numbers and alphabetic characters.
  • Strings must be either enclosed in quotation marks or contain white space so that it cannot be interpreted as a number.

With style templates, you can use these field types to create useful visual effects in the 3D viewer such as graphs or color-coding of data based on the values in the fields:

  • Integer
  • Floating point value

Apply a style template

You can apply a style template to vector data that contains fields you want to have displayed in the 3D viewer.

  • Style templates can only be applied to placemarks that contain extended schema data, such as those imported in a vector data file.
  • You can use the same style template for different data that has the same fields if the template settings are adjusted to represent the data properly.

To apply a style template:

  1. After you import data to your 'Places' panel, select the data folder and click Edit Next Apply Style Template.
  2. In the 'Compatible templates' list, choose the style template you want to apply to your data set.
  3. To edit the style template, select Edit selected template.
  4. Choose a field from your data that you want to use as a name, or label, for your data. Note: This name appears in the 3D viewer and in the Places panel that lists the data points.
  5. Click Color to map an element of your data to color styles.
  6. Click Icon to map an element of your data to one or more icons.
  7. Click Height to map a height value to a data element.
  8. Click OK.

You’ll see your data and defined values in the 3D viewer.

Map data fields to different features

Map color styles

You can apply color to selected fields in your imported data. In this case, color is applied to the feature depending upon the type of data imported:

  • Icons are colored with point data
  • Lines are colored when applying to lines or paths
  • Solid polygons are colored with shape data

Use the color style to color these elements in a meaningful way depending upon both the data type and the field data within the entire set.

Use a single color for all features

If you want to use one color for all the points or lines from your imported data, select the 'Use single color' option. Then, click the colored square next to the option. From the color selector, choose a color or define your own color to apply to the data.

Use random colors

To use a variety of colors that are applied randomly by Google Earth, select the 'Use random colors' option. If you are also supplying an icon for point data, the color is added to the existing color of the icon.

Set colors based on field values

If you want to compare features with a data set, use colors to define different field values.

Examples:

  • Set a short range of colors based on the square footage of real estate listings.
  • Set a range of colors for shape files showing average household income.

Follow steps 1-5 under Apply a style template.

  1. Select the Set color from field option in the "Color" tab. Then, choose a color from the Set color dropdown. Here, you can choose either numeric fields or text fields from your data. 
  2. To change the color range, click each color block and set the starting and ending color. Google Earth calculates the range between the two color values.
  3. To group a range of numeric fields, choose a Number of buckets.
  4. To display data elements for places based on color bucket, create subfolders.To show or hide the display of color groups, use the check box next to the folder. Note: Only one sub-folder can be assigned for either color or icon display.
  5. To reverse the order of the color range and their element assignments, click Reverse order.
  6. Click OK to save your style template.
Map icons to point data

You can apply icons to fields in your data. Icons cannot be mapped to line or shape data.

There are two ways to map icons to points:

  • Use same icon for all features
  • Set an icon from a field

Set icons to fields in your data

Customize icons for imported placemarks by a data field.

Follow steps 1-5 under Apply a style template.

  1. Select Set icon from field. Choose the field that you want to apply icon labels to.
  2. To group a range of numeric fields, choose a Number of buckets. For each bucket defined, select an icon from the list.
  3. Create subfolders to display data elements for places based on color bucket.To show or hide the display of color groups, use the check box next to the folder. Note: Only one sub-folder can be assigned for either color or icon display.
  4. To modify an individual bucket icon element, click the bucket to adjust the value or value range. Note: To adjust the spread of the data to your preference, modify the settings for numeric buckets.
  5. Click OK to save the style template.
Map height values

After height values are set, points, lines, or shapes are moved from ground level to the height defined for each data element.

  • If you map height to lines or shapes, the values you define work in combination with the colors defined.
  • If you map height to point data, those points are moved using a single pixel colored line to connect the icon from its elevated position to the ground. You can use style settings to modify the width and color of lines.

Height values for text fields

If the field you choose to map contains text data, the first 8 unique fields are each defined in their own bucket. Only map height values to a field that has 8 or fewer unique values.

Height values for numeric fields

When you map height values to a numeric data field, you can choose from two mapping methods:

  • Continuous mapping: Uses the minimum and maximum values of a field to determine a minimum and maximum height display for the entire set. Use this method for smaller data sets where individual distinctions between points or shapes are easily visualized.
  • Split values into buckets: Creates up to 8 height groupings for your data. Use this method for large data sets where continuously mapped heights are not easily visualized in the 3D viewer.
Edit style settings of map points

To make data points and lines easier to see in the 3D viewer, you can edit the style settings for each point to modify the line thickness.

  1. Mouse over the point you want to modify. Then, select Properties (Windows, Linux) or Get Info (Mac).
  2. In the 'Style, Color' section, modify the point's appearance as needed.
  3. Click OK.

Note: For large data sets, apply changes to entire folders or subfolders.

Choose field types

When using color, icon, or height mapping for specific fields in your data set, you can define a number of buckets to show different ranges of data. You can choose two basic types of fields from your data when mapping color, icon, or height values.

Text (string) fields

If a field type contains non-numeric data, Google Earth maps the first 8 unique text fields to the style. If there are fewer than 8 values in your data, each unique value is paired to a different color, icon, or height. If there are more than 8 values, the first 8 unique values are mapped to a style, and the rest of the values are grouped together and mapped to a ninth style. For this reason, it typically is most useful to apply a style to text fields that contain small unique sets.

Numeric fields

Numeric data fields are automatically spread out across the number of buckets that you select and include a count of items in each bucket. If you increase or decrease the number of buckets, the application automatically redistributes the number of elements in each bucket.

Fix field formatting errors

If you are using a spreadsheet application to create your data, choose a numeric cell format. If you have numeric fields in your CSV saved from a spreadsheet, but the 'Style Template' wizard is not recognizing it as numeric, it might be due to incorrect formatting.

To verify whether the actual field is marked as text or numeric:

  1. Open the CSV file in a simple text editor and look at the field in question.
  2. If the field is enclosed in double quotation marks, then it has been defined as text — even if there are only numbers within the quotations.
  3. Remove the quotation marks manually from the file, or open your spreadsheet application and format the cells as numeric.
  4. Then, save the CSV data again.