Setting Up Google Earth Options

[NOTE: These notes were written for GE 3, the new GE 4 has slightly different options.]
If you click on the “Google Earth Tips” category you’ll find a collection of stories I’ve written which contain tips on improving your experience with Google Earth. This entry provides some tips on optimizing Google Earth options to improve your experience.
To get to the options, select the menu “Tools” -> “Options”. This opens a window of options with the following panes: View, Cache, Control, Navigation, Preferences.
Here are my recommendations…

Here are my recommendations for each pane:

  • View
    • Set Detail Area->Large if you have a decent graphics card – this will greatly improve visual detail if you run at higher screen resolutions as more of your window will be in full detail. Better for taking screenshots as well.
    • Try adjusting your fonts so the labels are readable, but not distracting while browsing in GE.
    • If you use Google Earth to look at mountains, try setting Elevation Exaggeration to 1.5 or higher. This makes the 3D terrain have exaggerrated heights. A setting of 2.0 would be twice as high. NOTE: the “terrain” layer must be selected to see 3D terrain.
  • Cache
    • Set your memory cache as large as you can (depends on your system) – if you have 1GB of memory, you may be able to set this to 350. More memory means it will be able to load more overlays, placemarks, etc. without slowing down.
    • If you can afford the disk space, set your disk space cache to 2000 MB (2GB) – this will mean less downloading when viewing the same locations. Also, you can use GE offline better.
  • Control
    • Set the speed of Fly-to/Tour to a faster speed if you use GE a lot
    • The advanced setting gives you more control over speeds and camera angle
  • Navigation
    • I suggest you adjust the Overview Map size to what works for your screen size (tip: use Control-M to bring up Overview Map in GE)
  • Preferences
    • Click “Show web results in external broswer” if you want to use an external browser

I hope this information helps. If you have other tips, please leave a comment here.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. I would like to know how you change the COLOUR of the fonts used in GE.
    I have a problem reading the RED fonts on older monitors.
    BTW thank you for the finetuning tips.

  2. You can adjust the color of fonts for your own placemarks. But, I don’t think there is currently a way to adjust the color for labels in the built-in layers.

  3. Can you tell me how to get a clearer image at lower elevations. Is it my graphics card or monitor which is causing everything to be greatly out of focus? Thanks, Bob

  4. Terry Pinnell says:

    Thanks for the guide, but there are quite a few settings you don’t include! Or are you saying that all others are best left at their defaults in your opinion?
    To take just one example from just one tab:
    View > Anisotropic Filtering ?

    Terry, West Sussex, UK

  5. Terry, these are just tips on most common changes to the Options. It is not a tutorial on all the Options, and it was not intended to be comprehensive on optimization.
    Yes, changing your anisotropic filtering seeting may improve your performance or the quality of the imagery. If you have a newer graphics card you can turn on anistropic filtering with minimal performance impact.

  6. Even if the tips are from february, they are still up to date. Thanks!

  7. I’d like to re-ask Bob’s question: How can we get a more clear picture when we move to lower elevations? Is the anisotropic setting the only thing we can adjust? Thanks, Janet

  8. Is it possible to ask Google Earth to improve the resolution of a certain area / coordinates that I would like to see. Obviously there are big differences in image quality and resolution depending on the area and the importance of the area. E.g. Manhattan vs. Uganda
    Cheers, Charly

  9. I like to measure the distance of walks I’ve enjoyed or I want to take.
    Is it possible to mark the different steps of a walk so that Google Earth will show me, as if it was a video recorded by helicopter, that walk from start to end?
    How can one contact Google Earth to suggest this option? (in case it’s not available)

  10. Recently, in past two days, whenever I am logging into the Google Earth, after a minute or so, the program stops responding (“Not Responding”). I use WIN XP, SVPK 2. Why it started freezing on the screen – can’t figure out. Did not have any such problem a week ago! Several times, to exit – I am doing End Task (Cntl+Alt+DEl). Would appreciate any suggested solution or comment.

  11. would like to take a course on GIS and interaction with GOOGLE EARTH, any recommendation?

  12. T. Morrison says:

    When I click on a link and then when I’am finished and click on Close on the link and resume looking at Google Earth the program freezes up. The streaming goes down to 5-10% and basically stays there. I then have to close Google Earth and then start it up again. What is wrong?? HELP!!!!

  13. Hi Google
    How to improve the good image quality of a specific area? I would greatly appreciate if it is possible

  14. How can I turn off the photo icons. Some places have so many that the image is ruined. See Rome for example.

  15. Hi Google
    How to make CLEAN or CLEAR map after importing Images Overlay maps. I’m importing County APN: maps. After importing and adjusting the APN map over the terrain of the Google Earth aerial that I’m viewing. After sliding the Transparency bar to clear, I lose the black lines that borders the parcels that I’m viewing or wanting to print. If the transparency bar is not slide 100% to clear a light cloud or fog is visual or when printed! t
    I would greatly appreciate HELP HELP!!!

  16. Is there a way I get set a specific time and date on Google Earth Pro? I’m doing some research on something that was stolen from me and Google Earth is giving me a LOT of hope with the locations and satellite images. I want to go back to Nov. 21, 2008 and set the time between 4 AM and 10 AM. I know you can set the time at the top with the timeline (VERY cool btw!), but can you set a specific date?
    Thanks in advance.

  17. @Sina: First, Google Earth Pro has the same imagery as Google Earth (free). Second: It is highly unlikely Google imagery for a specific location will be available sooner than 1 year old, and in many places it can be several years old. For an explanation about imagery, read this post:

  18. When I try to load Google Earth, after or about the time I had a virus the Google Earth image is filled with white lines that seem to originate from particular places on the map. Is there a way to fix this “feature” so that I can see a clean image as before?
    Thanks much!

  19. GE’s imagery is out of focus at N240503 and W990730 on the town of el barretal tamps mex. However the stitch next to it on the right is in perfect focus. The imagery has not been improved in about 3 years. Is there a way for GE to correct this?

  20. anyone knows why there’s a horizonal and vertical blackline on my google map (on google earth). It’s not a single blackline as people indicated that it tries to cover up something. where else I zoom to there’s always the x-y axis blackline just like you see on a mapbook.

  21. I am new to this and very confused. When I first visited google earth there was a bar in the left upper corner that said “fly to”. I was able to view my home and many other places by putting the address in that bar. Everytime since then when I go to the site it is a different page and the fly to bar is not there and I cannot find any way to get to it. Once by accident I found it and put in favorites but the next time when I clicked it in favorites it took me back to the other home page and ever since I have not been able to find the page with the “fly to” bar on it no matter what I do. Can you exlain to me how to get to that page. Everything I read is written as if the page is always there but it is not on my computer. This is the page I want and want to be able to come back to. If you can help please email me the answer at my email address because I may never be able to find my way back here again. Thanks so so much in advance for any help. Twila

  22. Jessica Hall says:

    I just upgraded to GE 5.1. Did it lose the feature to read elevations? I have gone through the Preferences and nothing I’ve changed restores the elevation feature on the bottom of my bar (it is stuck at 0 ft regardless of where my cursor is moved to – and all above sea level). Is there a new trick to activate this?

  23. why does my 2006 picture clear when i go to lower elvation but 2011 photo is not

  24. India most of areas dont have street views and quality when zoomed is 3rd class

  25. Padmashree says:

    when i open the google earth, it shows a dialog box saying that the system resolution is set smaller than the required resolution. then i say ok, then the google earth tries to open and immediately my system goes to restart mode and shuts down. what should i do to set it right?

  26. Jay Woodard says:

    Google-Earth is fine until I zoom in on something (anything). It will be totally out of focus. I tried replacing my version with a new one, but same problem. Thanks for any help. Jay

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.