Ever wanted to see what Lapland looks like on the run-up to Christmas? Find a lonely island in the middle of the ocean and dream about making it your own? Or see a satellite view of that vacation resort you’ve booked for next summer? Or maybe you just want to look at your own house to confirm your suspicions that your dog will be chilling in the window. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time to download Earth onto your desktop or laptop.
Google Earth is a free app from Google that allows you to “fly” around a virtual globe and zoom in to any point to see high-resolution images of the area. You can see satellite images of anywhere on Earth, giving you a birds-eye view of a property, landscape, or anything else. Google Earth also has a street view feature that allows you to “drop in” to the map and see a location as you would on the ground.
In the past, Google had two options for downloading Google Earth to desktop. You could either download the free version or download Google Earth Pro. Either way, you needed to download something onto your desktop. However, today, the basic version of Google Earth works straight from your browser. All you have to do to use the standard version of Google Earth is go to www.Google.com/earth and select Launch Earth.
If you want an extended version of the software, you’ll need to download Google Earth Pro – the good news is that you can also do that for free!
Here’s how to download Google Earth Pro:
You can also download Google Earth on your phone or tablet by visiting the App Store or Google Play store on your device.
Google says that Google Earth Pro is available for users who want to Create maps with advanced tools. This essentially means that there are more advanced customization and map manipulation options available with the pro version. You can add and remove filters, tap into details about terrain, get weather information, add slopes, draw on the maps, and more. You can also download maps from the app to use elsewhere. If you just want to play around and explore our planet for all the wonders and the weirdness, then the browser version is sufficient.
Google will ask you to agree to the terms and conditions before the download commences. Once downloaded, you simply need to launch the app from your downloads folder and answer any questions like where you want the app to be stored on your hard drive.
Okay, so you’re ready to use Google Earth, but where do you start? Whether you’re using the Pro app or the browser version, the first thing you will see is a 3D model of the globe. You can use your cursor to spin the globe, select an area, click to zoom in or use the tools on the page for navigation.
The images you see on Google Earth are typically between one and three years old. This means you’re always looking at a recent snapshot of the places around the world.
Google Earth’s product manager, Gopal Shah, said, “Google Maps is about finding your way. Google Earth is about getting lost”. It’s an excellent description of how people actually use Google Earth. When you use Google Maps, you limit your activity to practical things. You want to go from A to B, and you want Google to tell you the most efficient way to do that. With Google Earth, you have the whole world at your fingertips – there’s no limit to what you can explore.
If you click on the three lines at the top of the page in the browser view, you can access the Voyager feature. This feature recommends different activities to do within the app. The exercises usually have a theme and are a lot of fun. For example, you can go to a US National Park and be shown all the hottest locations along with some history about each one. You can even do a virtual climb of El Capitan!
Here are some other things you can do:
On the left side of the browser, you should see a Projects button. If you click on this, you can create a new project linked to your Google Drive. You can use the search feature to add new locations to the project or draw lines or shapes onto the map. If you’re already looking at a location within the map view, you can add this location to your project by clicking on it and selecting “Add to Project”. Another great thing about Google Earth is that many locations have information cards attached to them with key details about the site and its history. You can choose to add this information card to your project or to create your own.
Google Earth was created back in 2001, and it’s still going strong. Over the years, Google has added many more features to the virtual planet, making it a highly responsive and powerful tool. If you work with maps and want to manipulate them for personal or work projects, then Google Earth Pro is a solid choice. If you just want to have some fun flying over the Earth, exploring exciting locations, or even creating projects for students, then the browser version is a better fit. Either way, Google Earth is an incredible tool worth checking out.