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What Is Google Earth?

What Is Google Earth?

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Google Earth
Google Inc.
Google Earth is a map of the world on steroids. You can zoom and glide over stitched together satellite photos of the world. Use Google Earth to find driving directions, find nearby restaurants, measure the distance between two locations, do serious research, or go on virtual vacations.

Download Google Earth from http://earth.google.com/

What Do I Need to Run Google Earth?


Google Earth 4(beta) is available for Windows 2000/XP, Mac OS 10.3.9 or higher, and Linux


There are three main versions, free, Plus, and Pro. Google Earth Plus is only available for Windows users and adds GPS support as well as enhanced drawing and sketching. Google Earth Pro 4 beta is available for Mac or Windows. It is designed for commercial users.

Most users won’t require more than the free version.

The Google Earth Interface

Google Earth opens with a view of the world from space. Clicking and dragging on the planet will gently spin the globe. The middle scroll wheel or right-click dragging will zoom in and out for close-up views. In some areas the close-ups are detailed enough to make out cars and even people.

If you pass over the upper right-hand corner of the globe, the small compass will turn into the larger navigation control. Click and drag the circle to turn the map. North on the compass will move accordingly. Click on the arrows to move left or right, or use the star in the middle as a joystick to move in any direction. The dial to the right controls zoom levels.

Tilted View

You can tilt the globe to have a perspective view and move the horizon line up or down. This lets you view close-ups as if you were just above them, rather than viewing straight down. It also comes in very handy with the 3-D Buildings. This view is best with the Terrain layer turned on.


Google Earth can provide a lot of information about a location, and if you were to view it all at once, it would just be confusing. To remedy this, the information is stored in layers, which can be turned on or off. Layers include roads, border labels, parks, food, gas, and lodging.

Terrain and 3D buildings

Two layers are useful for creating a more three dimensional globe. Terrain simulates the elevation levels, so when you tilt your view, you can see mountains and other terrain objects. The 3D Buildings layer lets you zoom through cities, such as San Francisco, and fly between buildings. Buildings are only available for a limited number of cities, and they are only available in gray, unshaded shapes (although there is additional textured building info available for download.)

Advanced users can also create and texture their own buildings with Sketchup.

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