How to Properly Use Google Earth – The Complete Guide

How to Properly Use Google Earth – The Complete Guide

By auroraoddi

Google Earth is a powerful tool that allows users to explore and navigate the world from the comfort of their own screens.

Whether you’re curious about a specific location or want to gain a deeper understanding of the Earth’s geography, Google Earth provides a wealth of features to help you accomplish your goals.

In this guide, we will walk you through the essential functionalities of Google Earth.

How to Make the Most Out of Google Earth

Download and Installation

To begin using Google Earth, visit the Google Earth download page and download the program. Once the download is complete, install the software on your device.

If you want to know how to use Google Earth without downloading it you can check our article here.

Performing Searches

Upon opening Google Earth, you will notice a search box at the top left side of the program. You can use this box to search for specific places by typing in a place name, zipcode or postcode (for US or Canadian cities), a town/city name, an airport code, or even a latitude-longitude location.

After entering your search query and pressing the Enter key, Google Earth will “fly” you to the desired destination.


To explore different areas, simply drag the map around. You can move from one location to another by dragging the map with your cursor.

Zooming In and Out

Utilize the zoom in and zoom out options located on the right-hand side of the screen. These buttons allow you to adjust the level of detail displayed on the map.

Did you know that you can even find some interesting hidden details, like the ladder on top of the Google Corporation building?

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Adjusting the Viewing Angle

In the top right corner, you’ll find a wheel that allows you to spin the view to a better understood angle. Experiment with different angles until you find the one that works best for you.

Additionally, by clicking the button in the center of the wheel, you can switch between Land mode and aerial views, providing different perspectives.

Historical Imagery

Google Earth enables you to explore historical satellite imagery. Look for the date in the bottom left corner of the screen and scroll through the dates to view different snapshots of the area.

To enable this feature, zoom in on a location with available historical imagery, click the “View” menu in the menu bar, and select the “Historical Imagery” option. Drag the toggle slider switch in the top left corner to different dates and witness the changes over time.


The Layers button, located in the bottom left corner of the screen, offers additional information and data overlays. For example:

  • Weather view: Enable the “Radar” and “Clouds” options to see real-time weather information, including rain, snow, and cloud coverage.
  • YouTube videos: Turn on YouTube videos to explore user-generated content related to specific locations.
  • Hybrid mode: Activate the “Roads” layer to display roadways on the map.
  • Subway systems: Find subway lines by selecting the “Subway” option from the Transportation dropdown in the “More” menu.
  • Traffic data: Turn on the “Traffic” layer to access real-time traffic information for major metropolitan areas in the US and Canada.
  • Wikipedia data: Enable the “Wikipedia” option to view information about the towns and locations you’re exploring.
  • Earthquake feature: Activate the “Earthquake” feature from the Gallery dropdown to see the locations of recorded earthquakes.
  • Ocean options: Discover the depths of the ocean by turning on features like “Explore the Oceans” and “Shipwrecks” to view stunning imagery and data related to marine life.

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Explore Beyond Earth

In addition to Earth, Google Earth allows you to explore other celestial bodies. From the View-Explore dropdown in the Menu bar, you can access satellite imagery of Mars, the night sky (Sky), and the Moon. This feature provides a fascinating opportunity to delve into space exploration and celestial observation.

Sun and City Lights Mode

Google Earth’s “Sun” mode allows you to visualize the areas covered by sunlight at any given time. This feature can be accessed by clicking on the “Sun” button.

However, it’s important to note that enabling the “Earth City Lights” mode darkens buildings to the point where details beneath them are not visible. Use these modes sparingly based on your specific needs.

Google Flight Simulator

For aviation enthusiasts or those curious about virtual flying experiences, Google Earth offers a built-in flight simulator. You can access the flight simulator by going to Google Earth’s “Tools” menu and selecting the “Enter Flight Simulator” option.

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A while the Google Earth program is open. While some knowledge of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X can be helpful, it is not mandatory to enjoy this feature.

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Google Earth is a versatile tool that provides users with the ability to explore our planet and beyond. By following this guide and familiarizing yourself with its features, you can uncover hidden treasures, examine historical imagery, access real-time data, and even embark on virtual flights.

Whether you are a student, a researcher, or simply curious about the world around you, Google Earth offers a wealth of information and interactive experiences to enhance your understanding and appreciation of our planet.

Remember, this guide covers the basics of Google Earth. The more you explore and experiment with the program, the more you will uncover its vast capabilities. So go ahead, download Google Earth, and embark on a virtual journey through the wonders of our planet and beyond. Happy exploring!


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