PanoViewer – Viewing Panorama Photos in Google Earth

Panoviewer for panorama photos in Google EarthFor a while now, DigitalUrban – a blog focused on visualizing urban areas with visualization tools like Google Earth – has been tantalizing us with talk and video about a new way to view panorama photographs using GE. They have finally released their method. What they have done is released a basic spherical 3D model, and showed you how to add a panoramic photo as a texture to the inside of the sphere. They made it really easy – you simply add the file name of your photo to one place with a text editor, and you are basically done. DigitalUrban has a step-by-step tutorial with example. The one catch to this tool is that you really need the 3D mouse device called SpaceNavigator to view the panorama’s properly. The SpaceNavigator lets you fly yourself inside the sphere and spin yourself about in place. Actually, some other controllers could be set up to do the same thing, but SN is the easiest. Here is the result from the tutorial which you can view in GE. If you don’t have a SpaceNavigator, you will find it difficult to really view the panorama this way. I’ve added a couple of views you can double-click on in the KMZ to see views within the sphere. Here is a video DigitalUrban made which shows what it looks like using a SpaceNavigator:

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.


  1. If you don’t have a SpaceNavigator, you can also use your regular mouse with the “Flight Control” navigation mode. (Look in Tools > Options, under the Navigation tab.) Not ideal, but it works very well once you’re inside the sphere.

  2. WOW! That is truly amazing! This really takes GE to a whole new level. I work in a school and encourage our teachers to use GE for students to make that real world connection and know they are THERE – right THERE – in relation to the world as a whole. Now they can see places from the front as well as the top?! Yay!! I hope lots of people start creating these like crazy. And that there will be a specific forum somewhere for all the spheres to be posted!


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  4. While at MacWorld Google demoed the new Beta driver for SpaceNavigator on a Mac and Google Earth. It will be available in March, but they now have beta drivers for download for Google Sketchup. I’ve taken the plunge and ordered a SpaceNavigator for my Mac – having played with it at MacWorld it is just awsome with Google Earth…

  5. I just figured out a great way to navigate within the sphere without the SpaceNavigator, using my Gamepad instead. So for all of you with a Gamepad that has shoulder keys, like the Rumblepad from Logitech or the Sidewinder from Microsoft. First you got to check “Enable Controller” in the Navigation menu (under Non-mouse controller settings). You also should check “User-Based (move me) and that’s about it. Use your mouse as usual to navigate into the sphere and there you can use the shoulder keys from the Gamepad to turn around left or right and the right analog stick to look up and down.

  6. I have uploaded 3 pictures of my cottage into Google Earth. How can I add them to the map, so when anyone zooms in on my cottage they will see little blue square (icon), that when clicking on it it will split off into 3 squares and when clicking on one of them they will see my pictures?

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