Viewing GPS tracks

This article shows you how to:

Import Your GPS Track
Customize Your GPS Track
Create a Tour of Your Track
Use the Time Slider to View Your Track
View the Elevation Profile of Your Track

Import Your GPS Track

For basic instructions on how to export data from your GPS device and import it into Google Earth, or how to import an existing GPS data file read Importing Data from GPS Devices

Note: The tips below apply only to Google Earth 5.2 and later

Customize Your Track

Right-click the GPS data source in the Places panel and choose "Get Info" on a Mac or "Properties" on a PC. Personalize the icon for your track. Click the icon button next to the "Name" field, and pick the icon you want. You can also customize your icon the same way that you'd customize a placemark. For example, if you're tracking an air flight, you might want to choose a plane.

Select the "Style, Color" tab to pick the colors you want for the label, line, and icon of your track.

Tip: If you know KML well, you can customize your icon to be a 3D model. Learn how in the KML Documentation.

Create a Tour of Your Track

To create a tour of your track, first choose your GPS track in the Places panel. Then click the "generate tour button":, and a tour of your track plays automatically.

To set preferences for your tour, go to Google Earth > Preferences on a Mac or Tools > Options on a PC. Click the "Touring" tab.

Below "When creating a tour from a line," you can adjust Camera Tilt Angle and Camera Range. The "Restore Default" button will bring you back to reasonable default settings.

Below "When creating a tour from a track," you can adjust speed and keyframe-spacing. The "Restore Default" button will bring you back to reasonable default settings. The default speed (6.0) plays your tour 6 times the actual speed.

Use the Time Slider to View Your Track

For an overview of the time slider, see Basics of the Time Slider. To get started viewing your track, choose your GPS data in the left panel, and the time slider will appear.

Note: Only have one track selected at a time in the Places panel. If you have more than one data set selected, the time slider shows the collective time range of all the data sets. This can make it hard to find your track in the 3D viewer when you'd like to look at a specific data set.

Display track as a span of time: Adjust the range marker (see "Features of the Time Slider") to choose a window of time to display your track. Press the "play" button. The icon is always visible at the beginning point of your time range. As the icon moves, a tail appears behind the icon which represents the amount of time you selected in the window. The end of the tail represents the last point of the time range. Anything outside your time range isn't visible.

Display track as a point in time: Adjust the range marker (see "Features of the Time Slider") so there's no window of time. The range marker should be touching the other piece of the time slider, making the range of time selected equal to 0. Press the "play" button. Your track plays, showing only the icon moving through each point. No tail appears behind the icon.

Zoom In or Out: Select the (+) or (-) buttons to zoom in or out and shorten and lengthen the date range covered by your timelines. This allows you to more easily see the different imagery that's available within a shorter or longer period of time. Notice that, as you zoom in or out, the Start and End dates on the timeline change. Zooming in (+) on the track makes it appear slower, since it is more magnified. Zooming out on your track (-), makes the track move faster, because it causes the view to be less magnified.

Customize your view: You can customize the angle at which you see your track run. While the track is playing, use the navigation controls to adjust the zoom and tilt of your 3D viewer. This allows you to view your track from various distances and angles or to follow the icon as it moves along its path.

View the Elevation Profile of Your Track

You can view the elevation profile of your track, which means that you see the terrain pattern of your track. To do this, choose your track in the places panel. Right-click, and pick "Show Elevation Profile." A box appears at the bottom of the 3D viewer that shows the Elevation Profile.