Google Earth 5 – Record Tour Mode Features

[UPDATED] Another major new feature in Google Earth 5 is the new Record Tour feature. This is NOT recording video. Instead it is a major new capability for GE 5 that lets you record and play back scripted KML sessions. This means you can record things you want to show to a KML file, pass the KML file around and let someone else view it with their GE 5. This is way better than a video because you have the full resolution fidelity for a way smaller file than a video. And, there’s a lot more under the surface here than what you might think at first glance.
I’ve created a quick demonstration recording. The first thing you’ll notice is that I’ve also recorded a voice narration to my playback. You start by clicking on the “movie camera icon“, or selecting “Add->Tour” from the menus. Notice the “microphone” button next to the “record” button. When recording, the record button turns red and a counting timer appears.

Record gadgets in Google Earth 5

When you select the “microphone” gadget, it will record your voice and record your movements in Google Earth. (NOTE: you can add a narration after you record a movement session as well). The other thing you should notice is very exciting to me: while the tour is playing back, you can reach with the mouse and click and drag your view (NOTE: only if you drag the ground, not the sky) to look in a different direction than the playback! This is just one example of why the Record Tour is more powerful than a video. Before I go further, download this Grand Canyon tour (with narration – only 1.1 Mbytes). You may have to open the “Grand Canyon Tour” folder and find the record tour – then double-click it to start the playback. Here’s a screenshot of the tour in action:
Record Tour playback in Google Earth 5

One thing you can play with is speeding up, slowing down, or going backwards with the playback (at the expense of making my voice sound even funnier than normal!). Just click on the speed buttons on either side of the “Play” button in the record tour panel. Also, you’ll notice I’ve included a couple of placemarks which I opened during the recording. They also open during the playback. Very useful for illustrating a tour!
[UPDATE: Google has put up a post about historical imagery with some video of example tours. You can also download KML of the tours they show so you can play them in GE 5. Try this tour where they show different historical imagery of stadiums in Philadelphia during playback.]
Here are some other possibilities with the new touring:

  • Flight Simulator – You can record and play back sessions in the flight simulator!

  • Historical Imagery – You can record selecting different dates in the historical imagery slider showing different imagery.

  • Placemark control – record opening and using placemarks

There are many other possibilities including automatically playing back a GPS track, or how about adding music to your recorded tour? You may have to delve into the KML code to take advantage of more advanced features. Here’s the new documentation on Record Tour at the KML documentation site. There are a lot of possibilities with Record Tour.

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. can i record a tour in actual video format? or perhaps convert the KML file into MP4 or other video formats and put it in youtube or some other video sharing site?

  2. I found a bug in the traditional “Play Tour” mode. I have a series of placemarks with pop-up balloons, each showing a photo. I have the placemarks arranged:
    I check the entire branch and start the tour. In the past, GE would go from one placemark to the next, pausing to display the balloon before moving on. Now, when GE gets to a subfolder, instead of diving in and working each placemark, it simply moves up into the air, looking straight down to show all the placemark icons for that subfolder, then moves on to the next placemark that is not in a subfolder.
    This bug was not in the previous version of GE. I expect that it’ll be fixed in the next release (once they know of it).

  3. Wow! You do indeed get a combination of the interaction that the creator of the tour recorded and real time interaction; try playing with the sun settings while the Grand Canyon tour is playing. Totally blew me away, to be honest…

  4. Example flyby through Grand Canyon with JGeils music in background. , this feature is going to produce some fantastic viewing content

  5. Hi
    I captured and uploaded your Grand Canyon tour.

    Please use it for embedding.

  6. Hey,
    I have a question concerning the tour when you make it with the flight simulator. I was wondering if it is possible to edit it with Windows Movie Maker, or simply edit it in any way.
    Feedback would be much appreciated!

  7. can we locate lost cellphones by google earth 5?

  8. DontheDandi says

    When I open Google Earth 5.0 my mic switches from “rear” to “front” mic. Control Panel > sounds and audio devices > audio > sound recording volume (volume). My mic defaults to “rear” but when I open Google Earth 5.0 my mic goes to mic (right). How may I change this in Google Earth 5.0? Thanks Don

  9. I am having trouble applying a sound overlay to a recorded tour. When applying recording the music, it only records for two minutes then stops. how do i record for the entire duration of my tour?

  10. Frank Taylor says

    How are you adding the music and what is its length? I recommend reading the tutorial for adding sounds to Tours using KML:

  11. I am a teacher and my students are doing a Google Tour for a project. Some of them are having problems – when they hit ‘record’ to record their tour, their pins are being deleted. I have no idea where this is coming from as I am fairly new to Google Earth 5. Is there something I can tell them to do first to make sure their work won’t be deleted. Thanks!

  12. Loz Braiden says

    Can someone please help me convert my recorded tour so that I can post the url on facebook or even youtube with a facebook link???

  13. Is it possible to convert the tour in movie format?
    If not how would you guys recommend capturing it?

  14. Try as I might, I cannot make the narration tool work. I play back the tour with the recording console on top. I press record, then microphone, and do a blurb. When I end the tour, I press record again and it plays back, without sound. I can hear my narration in the headset so I know the mic is working. I’ve tried saving it anyway, converting to a kmz file and playing, but it still doesn’t work. I’ve tried all sorts of combinations with just pressing the mic button, holding mic button down, starting it first or second, etc…. Can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong? Is it that I’m using XP? HELP!

  15. I love the new record feature and web api. I tweaked around with it and found one way to create a smooth video path without coding. I drew a path and set the altitude to 16m and “relative to ground”. Then I set the paths opacity to 0 so it was invisible. Just play the path and record as it goes. Here is the GE tour of our hike down the Grand Canyon

  16. Hi,
    I am running google earth, on a laptop running Microsoft Vista. I am interested to find out how to enable recording of flight in Google Earth, as opposed to recording moving from place mark to place mark with the mouse.
    Can anyone advise how to enable this feature.
    At the moment, all i can get it to do is record a tour where i move from point to point with the mouse.
    when i Enter the flight sim mode, I cannot access the tour option at all.
    I eagerly await your knowledgeable response.

  17. Hi, how did you create this google earth tour?
    I am trying to create a kml the uses the view not the view, which is what your tour is doing. I have opened your .kmz in google earth, then saved as a .kml and each of the points is a flyto, with heading tilt and roll. This is exactly what I want but whenever I make a tour with place markers or just flying around with a space navigator, all of the points in the kml have with heading tilt and range.

    Any ideas would be much appreciated.


  18. microphone doesnt work on earth for over a year, have different computers, tried all the mike settings, nothing, piece of work, they changed something, have looked at all the blogs, tried to fix, not working

  19. google earth audio recording doesnt work, for a long time, i see many users complaining, so Im not the only one, do you have any advice? ive tried everything, google cant be contacted, cowards, no cust support, thanks!!

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.