Tips and tricks

If you have a question or want to save time when using Google Earth, check out these tips and lesser-known tools.

Important: These tips are for Google Earth web and mobile, not Google Earth Pro.

Did you know?

In December 2019, we’ll shut down the Street View Gallery. The collections featured in the gallery will soon appear in Voyager, Google Earth’s home for guided tours, games, and data layers. You’ll be able to easily find these collections with Earth’s Search feature. Once the Gallery shutdown and migration is complete, visit Voyager to find new Street View collections in the future.

See system requirements Google Earth (Web)

  • Google Chrome 67 or higher
  • Make sure hardware acceleration is turned on
To turn on hardware acceleration in Google Chrome:
  1. Go to Google Chrome settings:
    • In the top right, click More More and then Settings.
    • In your address bar, enter "chrome://settings/".
  2. At the bottom of the page, click Advanced.
  3. Under “System,” turn on Use hardware acceleration when available.
  4. Relaunch your Chrome browser and Google Earth.

Try some of the latest Google Earth features

Turn on Animated Clouds

You can view the last 24 hours of cloud coverage in a looping animation. Cloud data is updated when new data is available, usually every hour.

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. Click Menu Menu and then Map style Map Style.
  3. Scroll and Turn on animated clouds.

Tip: Google Earth shows stationary clouds by default. Animated clouds fade and then disappear when you zoom in.

See the world from different points of view

3D imagery is shown by default, but you can use the Map Style feature to choose between 2D and 3D viewing based on your preference. To switch between 3D and 2D buildings, follow the steps below:

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. In the top left corner, click Menu Menu and then Map style Map Style.
  3. Under "Enable on 3D buildings," click the toggle to "on" or "off" based on your preference. Blue will indicate that 3D buildings are turned on.

Tip: If you view the world in 2D, it may show newer imagery in some regions. To see the newest imagery possible, view in 2D mode. The 2D view may also improve overall app performance.

Learn about other helpful Earth features

Change your flight speed
  1. On your computer, open Google Earth
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Under “Animations,” to adjust “Flight animation speed,” drag the slider to the desired speed.
Load map imagery faster
  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Under “Memory cache size,” choose a size. To make images load faster, increase the cache size or turn off 3D imagery.

Tip: Sometimes a Google Earth image hasn’t fully loaded, which may make the image appear blurry. In the bottom right corner, find if the loading indicator says “100%.”

Change how longitude and latitude are displayed

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Under “Format and Units,” select your “Latitude/Longitude formatting”:
    • Degrees, Minutes, Seconds
    • Decimal

Change units of measurement

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Under “Format and Units,” select your “Units of measurement”: 
    • Meters/kilometers 
    • Feet/miles

Import KML files in Google Earth

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Under “General Settings,” turn on Turn on KML file import.

Tip: Not all KML file types are currently supported in Earth.

Explore Google Earth faster and easier

  1. On your computer, open Google Earth.
  2. On the left, click Menu Menu and then Settings Settings.
  3. Type “?” to bring up a list of shortcuts. Learn more about Google Earth keyboard shortcuts.

Related resources

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