New Google Earth 4 (beta) Released – November 1st – More Features Added to Free Version!

[UPDATED 2-Nov at 1610]
Google has just released a new Google Earth 4 beta with several new features. On Windows the new version number is 4.0.2416. The Mac version is 4.0.2413. I’ve got a few details on what’s new here, I’ll add more as I learn what else is there. The biggest news is that two features formerly only available in the GE Plus version (which costs $20/year) are now available in the free version. You can now draw paths and polygons with the new free GE 4. Other new features include: new icons for placemarks, faster loading 3D models, improved lighting for 3D models (much better), and printing of driving directions and folders. See Google’s new page about the update.
The time feature implemented in the last version has been refined. You can now slow things down better, you can restrict the time slider to the current folder, and you can now choose “Bounce” for the animation instead of just “Wrap” or “Once”.
New Icons in Google EarthThe screenshot on the right shows the new icons. The interface provides options to store custom icons for easy later selection. Also, placemark icons that are close together will move apart (with a slick animation) when clicked on allowing you to easily select the one you want.
Clouds with Altitude Google EarthA very important new feature is that image overlays can now have altitude. This means weather satellite photos and other weather images can be placed above the ground. When you zoom in, the overlay will disappear allowing you to view the ground photos without interference. I really love the “Global Clouds” when you add altitude to it (edit the properties for the Global Cloud image overlay, select “Altitude” and move it up towards space). Very cool!
Google is apparently re-evaluating the line-up of features for all the versions. Last month they added new capabilities to the GE Pro version at no charge. Those of you with GE Plus can probably expect new features in the next release of that version (according to my sources).
This new release makes some important refinements bringing the GE 4 beta closer to readiness for official release. I suspect GE 4 will go out of beta before the end of the year if all goes well with this beta. If you haven’t already downloaded GE 4, you should definitely download it now. Google’s download page doesn’t even encourage downloading the old GE 3 version any more.

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. Great News! Thanks for the update, Frank!

  2. Jan Kees Kleuver says:

    I can’t download the newest version, for some reason (stil on 4.0.2091).
    Any suggestions?

  3. Thanks for this news Frank. The icons are the only thing that bothers me slightly. I agree that the pushpins are better for placemarks, however if you want to add a custom icon from one of the other palettes you need to take a rather fiddly path into the Program Files / Google / Google Earth / Res folder. It would be good to see an icon palette browser on the next update.

  4. It seems (to me) that new GoogleEarth 4.0.2416
    displays only the wireframe of extrusion (not DAE) models.
    Or… there are some new settings?

  5. finally GE 4 doesn’t crash anymore on my macbook pro…. it was about time google did somethnig about it… thnx google

  6. Hi Frank. Thanks for the heads up on this update to the GE client. I
    noticed one change in the Time feature is you are now able to restrict
    the time feature to a selected folder thus eliminating the problem of
    overlapping time spans making it confusing to know which time frame
    you were watching. Very nice. Looking forward to hearing what you
    and others also discover. I recently purchased GE Pro so I will be
    eager to see what has changed in that version as well.
    Incidentally, the older release also added a feature to turn a
    folder’s children into radio buttons or to hide the contents
    altogether (the checkHideChildren element). My one wish is to have a
    similar feature for rollovers for placemark labels. This would
    be very handy for large datasets.

  7. Previously simply including a web page address in a bubble was sufficient to display the link, but now you have to include the html tag webpage address

  8. Nick Young says:

    I can’t wait for Google Earth version 5 beta! Even more icons, cloud updates every 2 hours, and probably some more 3d buildings! wow! what will they think of next?!! Google Mars?! That just blows my mind!

  9. Wow! The cloud map is superb with altitude added. Not only do the clouds disappear as you zoom in, but once you have zoomed in and tilted the view, the clouds appear overhead, forming a very realistic-looking sky instead of the generic blue haze.

  10. As stated here: I had some networklink troubles with this new release. They are not solved yet. Glad to be able to reinstall the previous version!

  11. Here’s a shot of the clouds in the sky:

  12. Here’s a shot of ME in the sky:

  13. At last webcam images automatically update in bubbles. No longer any need for hacks using layers.

  14. How do I get altitude on the clouds overlay? I right clicked the overlay in my “Places” and selected properties, but see no place to adjust altitude.

  15. I just bought Google Earth plus (for those features) the day before this came out. 😀 hopefully plus gets some more features to add value.

  16. Great!!! I’ll install immediately

  17. Michael Whitlock says:

    Very good how do you go through the clouds?

  18. the computer wouldn’t let me install google earth four

  19. this new google earth it pretty good i wish you could get a live one

  20. nvdeventer says:

    do you get a live version of google earth?

  21. I have some fairly elaborate KMZ files that I authored in the previous 4.x version of GE.
    These files open in the new beta, but the beta throws an error about a mismatched tag when I try to save. This is very annoying since I need to add some things to this document before a public meeting tonight and I can;t find any way to install a non-beta version of google earth! Odd that the beta vetrsion would be the only option for installation!!!

  22. Zodranoel says:

    I’ve just re-installed the new version and I have problems with the search location bar. Wherever I want to go an error message pups up saying “your search returns no results”
    Does anybody knows how to solve it?
    Is there any possibility of comming back to my previos version if the error persists?

  23. really cool version 4.3. the street view is cool. i cant believe that it lets u look at area 51 and stuff though. I think this is the coolest thing ever and it is very usefull too!!!!

  24. Is there a good reason to wait for the official release of G4?

  25. Can anyone advise me as to how to resolve a graphics problem? I get only the yellow globe wireframe and no graphics at all.. Please help..

  26. Bill,
    I had the same problem with the yellow wireframe display. I solved it (in Windows XP) by going to the program menu and selecting “Start Google Earth in DirectX mode”. Hope this helps.

  27. I had the same problem as Bill – yellow wire frame only on startup.
    It seems strange that the Google folks think anyone would want this as the standard default.

  28. Hi! This is Goutam. I have installed google earth on my system but. some images on it are 2-3 years old. Do the Google people not update all the images or they only add new images only?

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.