[EDIT 12-Jan-2006: After you read this story, check out the new Google Earth Basics page here at GEB for a list of helpful stories for beginners.]
For the many new users of Google Earth (GE), here are some important tips for getting the most out of the application. Learning to manipulate the mouse and keys to control GE is crucial to getting the most out of sightseeing the Earth.
For those of you with multiple mouse buttons: using a mousewheel is the easiest way to raise or lower your viewing point (or you can hold the right mouse button and slide forward and back). Alternatively, you can use the CTRL-UP ARROW or CTRL-DOWN ARROW keys on your keyboard. Finally, you can use the visual controls on the Nav panel with the + and – symbols. All of these methods adjust your altitude above the Earth’s surface. You can see your height above sea level in the lower right of the GE viewing window. You can move the Earth to position it where you want to see by clicking a point with the left mouse button and slide the cursor to the middle of the viewing window. This way you can learn to zoom in and see the closest possible view of the aerial and satellite photo views of the Earth.
At first, many people don’t realize…
At first, many people don’t realize Google Earth is much more than a map with aerial and satellite photos attached. GE uses data from NASA Space Shuttle missions which provides 3D terrain data for the entire land surface of the Earth. Let’s demonstrate this.
Click on this link to go to GE and fly to Mount St. Helens. Beautiful view right? But, try this: hold your PAGE DOWN key on your keyboard and watch GE tilt your view so you can see Mount St. Helens as a 3D mountain. Very cool right? PAGE UP will tilt your view back up. You can also use the controls on the right side of the navigational control panel for tilting. You can hit the “u” key to tilt back straight up automatically. The “r” key will reset to north and tilt up.
An easier way to tilt and pan your view is to click and hold the middle mouse button or scroll wheel button (those of you who have a Mac with one mouse button have to use the above key or navigational control techniques). While you’re holding the middle button if you move your mouse forward and backwards it will tilt the view. Side to side will pan your view around the point you are looking at. Holding the SHIFT key will constrain your tilt and allow you to rotate your view about a point.
Check out other tips for using GE in the Google Earth Blog tips category. If you haven’t seen it, read Google’s basic tour as well.