Overview: Learn how to get started with Google Earth and how/why you might want to use it with your classes.

Related resources are listed at bottom of page.


Google Earth 6 is available as a free download. Collegiate faculty has an earlier version on their laptops.

Getting to Know Google Earth

The following diagram describes some of the features available in the main window of Google Earth:


  1. Search panel - Use this to find places and directions and manage search results. Google Earth EC may display additional tabs here.
  2. 3D Viewer - View the globe and its terrain in this window.
  3. Toolbar buttons - See below.
  4. Navigation controls - Use these to zoom, look and move around (see below).
  5. Layers panel - Use this to display points of interest.
  6. Places panel - Use this to locate, save, organize and revisit placemarks.
  7. Add Content - Click this to import exciting content from the KML Gallery
  8. Status bar - View coordinate, elevation, imagery date and streaming status here.
  9. Overview map - Use this for an additional perspective of the Earth.

Toolbar Buttons Explained

sidebar.png Conceal or the display the side bar
displaysunlight.pngDisplay sunlight across the landscape
placemark.pngAdd a placemark for a location
viewakymoometc.pngView the sky, moon and planets
polygon.png Add a polygon
measure.pngMeasure a distance or area sizepath.png
path.pngAdd a path (line or lines)
email.pngEmail a view or image.
imageoverlay.png Add an image overlay on the Earth
print.pngPrint the current view of the Earth
recordatour.png Record a tour
showcurrentview.pngShow the current view in Google Maps
displayhistoricalimagery.png Display historical imagery

A Few Great Tutorials

Five Cool, Easy Things You Can Do in Google Earth

  1. View an image of your home, school or any place on Earth - Click Fly To. Enter the location in the input box and click the Search button. In the search results (Places panel), double click the location. Google Earth flies you to this location.
    search2.pngSearch button
  2. Tour the world - In the Places panel, open the Learn and Explore folder and double click Explore.
  3. Get driving directions from one place to another and fly (follow) the route - See Getting Directions and Touring the Route.
  4. View other cool locations and features created by other Google Earth users - In the Layers panel, check Community Showcase. Interesting placemarks and other features appear in the 3D viewer. Double click these points of interest to view and explore. See Using Points of Interest (POIs) for more information.
  5. View 3D terrain of a place - This is more fun with hilly or mountainous terrain, such as the Grand Canyon. Go to a location (see number 1). When the view shows the location, use the zoom slider to tilt the terrain. See Using the Navigational Controls and Tilting and Viewing Hilly Terrain for more information.

Related Resource List for Teachers: