Google Earth

Earth from outer space

James Cawley / Getty Images

Google Earth is a free software download from Google that allows you to zoom in to see highly detailed aerial photos or satellite images of any place on the planet earth. Google Earth includes numerous layers of professional and community submissions to assist the user in zooming to see interesting places. The search feature is as easy to use as is Google search and incredibly intelligent in locating places around the globe. There is no better piece of mapping or imagery software available for free.


  • Google Earth is completely free to download and use.
  • Google Earth allows a user to zoom and see images of the planet in great detail.
  • Numerous layers of data are available to enhance the Google Earth experience.
  • Google Earth is updated on an ongoing basis over the Internet.
  • The Google Earth community is constantly adding fascinating new and free content to Google Earth.


  • Google Earth has so much data, you need a high speed Internet connection to use it effectively.
  • If you view many layers at once on Google Earth, your view as you zoom may be jumbled.
  • The side bar has many choices and can be somewhat cumbersome to use.
  • Some of the user-added Google Earth points of interest are useless or incorrect.
  • Some areas of the planet are not available on Google Earth in high resolution or high detail.


  • Google Earth includes satellite images and well as aerial photos of the entire planet earth.
  • Numerous layers provide supplementary content contributed by organizations as well as individuals.
  • Google Earth is available for free. Google Earth Plus for $20 allows use of a GPS device and the import of spreadsheets.
  • Google Earth provides driving directions - select the Driving Directions tab in the search box.
  • The "sightseeing" folder inside the My Places folder already contains points of interest marked on the earth to explore.

Guide Review - Google Earth

Google Earth is a free download available from Google.

Once you install Google Earth, you will be able to launch it. On the left-hand side of the screen, you will see the search, layers, and places. Use search to look up a specific address, a city name, or a country and Google Earth will "fly" you there. Use a country or state name with searches for better results (i.e. Houston, Texas is better than just Houston).

Use the center scroll wheel of your mouse to zoom in and out on Google Earth. The left mouse button is the hand tool which allows you to reposition the map. The right mouse button also zooms. Double left clicking slowly zooms in and double right clicking slowly zooms out.

The features of Google Earth are numerous. You can save your own placemarks on personal sites of interest and share them with the Google Earth Community (right click on the placemark after creating it).

Use the compass image in the upper right-hand corner of the map to navigate or to tilt the map of a airplane-style view of the earth's surface. Watch the bottom of the screen for important information. "Streaming" provides an indication of how much data has been downloaded - once it reaches 100%, that is the best resolution you will see in Google Earth. Again, some areas are not shown in high resolution.

Explore the excellent layers provided with Google Earth. There are many layers of photos (including National Geographic), buildings are available in 3-D, dining reviews, national parks, mass transit routes, and so much more. Google Earth has done an incredible job allowing organizations and even individuals to add to the map of the world through commentary, photos, and discussion. Of course, you can turn off layers, too.

Ready to leave Earth? Explore the cosmos with Google Sky.

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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "Google Earth." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Rosenberg, Matt. (2023, April 5). Google Earth. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Matt. "Google Earth." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).