Quick and Easy Enhancements to Google Earth Using GoogleEarthHacks.com

This tutorial assumes you have Google Earth installed and running on your system. If you don’t have Google Earth installed you can download the latest version from http://kh.google.com/download/earth/index.html. Be sure you check the system requirements before installing this program.

After you have Google Earth up and running you’ll want to head over to http://www.googleearthhacks.com/ and check out all the neat stuff other people have found while browsing Google Earth. In addition you’ll find some overlays you can use on top of the standard Google Earth images. An example would be a Weather Channel overlay:

How do you put an overlay on your copy of Google Earth? Easy. First open Google Earth. Now open your web browser to http://www.googleearthhacks.com/. You’ll see some pictures of objects and locations other people have found while in the software. You want to head to the “downloads” section:

Find a category that interests you and click it. Now you will see a list of the available items in that category. When you find one you want to try click it. For this example we will download and install the Bermuda Triangle Overlay. I found this overlay in the Giant Overlays category.

When I click on the Bermuda Triangle Overlay I come to a page with some additional details:

After deciding to view this overlay simply click the Download This File! link. It is circled in red in the image above.

What happens next depends on your Web browser and it’s settings. I’ll detail what happens in Mozilla Firefox first. Then we’ll talk about Internet Explorer.

When you click the link in Firefox a box pops up asking you what you want to do with the file:

If Google Earth is installed correctly you should have a choice like mine above – Open with Google Earth. If you don’t have that choice simply save the file to a temporary place on your computer. You do this by choosing the Save to Disk option. The Desktop is a good choice since the file will be easy to find. But ideally the Open with Google Earth option is there. Click the OK button to continue.

If you are using Internet Explorer your download box will look similar to this:

Click the Open button to open the overlay in Google Earth and the Save button to save the file to your local drive.

No matter which browser you use there is not a good reason to save the files to your local drive. You won’t need them once you have viewed them inside of Google Earth.

After you click the OK or Open button Google Earth should open and rotate to the correct location to view your overlay. It will not automatically display the overlay:

In the image above we are seeing the general area of the Bermuda Triangle. On the left of the screen you see a section labeledPlaces. Inside the Places list you will find a section labeled Temporary Places. The Bermuda Triangle overlay shows up here. I’ve circled that in red above. All you need to do to see the overlay is check the box next to it. After checking the Bermuda Triangle box your map should look something like this:

At the bottom of the Places box there is a slider that controls how transparent your overlay will be:

Click on either end of the slider to move it up and down. Watch the results on your map.

When you find an Overlay you like save it for future use. Simply right-click on the extension name and choose Save To My Places.

You can do the same thing using the Edit / Save To My Places menu at the top of the Google Earth window. Whichever is easiest for you. After you choose Save To My Places your overlay should move from the Temporary Places into My Places at the top of the list.

When you want to use your overlay in the future just check it’s box on the My Places list on the left. Then double-click the entry to zoom directly to it.

Go through this process a few times and it will become second nature. Have fun playing around with Google Earth.