Google Earth 5.1 Released

Google has released a new version of Google Earth – version 5.1 (beta). This version is mostly dedicated to improving performance. They have improved memory utilization, graphics performance, and even bandwidth related enhancements. They also reduced the start-up time by 25% in most cases. For the Windows version they have included the Google Earth plugin as part of the installation so most users will automatically have the plugin ready when they visit a web site requiring the plugin.

Google Earth 5.1 Released

Another thing Google doesn’t mention in their post today, is that I’m sure they have addressed many other issues since the release of 5.0 back in early February to help more people have a pleasant experience with the application. So, try downloading Google Earth today for a faster and, hopefully, even more reliable experience! But, notice that there is a “beta” attached to this release. Google normally releases a beta version first – then if there are issues with the release they will release a final (non-beta) version fixing as many issues as possible.

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’m all for them improving speed, but I’m not impressed with the tweaked historic data. Mt Ngauruhoe in New Zealand used to be realistic brown, but now the current and historic data show it as faked green. Historic data should not be being modified, and they shouldn’t be applying false foliage colour to a barren volcano, it’s just bizarre.

  2. I mentioned elsewhere about one nice change I found but I think it bears repeating.
    They changed the behavior with image resolution and how far you zoom in. Until recently if you zoomed in ‘too far’ the imagery would suddenly switch to imagery of a higher resolution (if there was any) as long as it was older.
    Now, if you’re on an image, it won’t try to shift around to something at a higher resolution.
    Also previously if you zoomed in too far on a location it wouldn’t show imagery that was ‘too low’ of a resolution for how far you’d zoomed. That’s also changed and you can zoom in to whatever level you like and ALL images show up on the history slider.
    I was really hoping they’d do this. I disliked the older behavior.

  3. The About dialog shows my Windows 7 RC as “Microsoft Windows Vista (Service Pack 0)”

  4. linux version is broken for me:
    > googleearth
    ./googleearth-bin: ./ version `GLIBCXX_3.4.9′ not found (required by ./
    ./googleearth-bin: ./ version `GLIBCXX_3.4.9′ not found (required by ./
    The 5.0 version all worked :/

  5. Simon Pahula says:

    Still something wrong at street view. If you go photo to photo twice and then try to move another street-view photo – Google Earth crash down. Fix it please!
    Its funny how you guys first do so much work on street view and then it goes not work..

  6. When was the last time “Check for Updates Online” actually DID anything?

  7. This beta release is great as it solves quite a few long standing bugs, including the pesky anti-meridian polygon gap and jagged edges.
    The plug-in is getting better, but there are still many quirks and quite a few basic things such as turning on/off the sky grid still doesn’t work!

  8. As a Mac OS X user GE 5.1 does what Google ‘says on the tin’. The browsing experience is smoother and faster.
    Among things noticed so far are: a more spacious layers side bar (more improvement in the layers interface next time?); Street View hasn’t crashed so far: and an annoying bug which stopped Panoramio placemarks opening without clicking on them twice has been fixed.

  9. My notes:
    When you’re zoomed out to see the entire globe, it won’t spin freely anymore. This is NOT GOOD for global observations like weather patterns.
    It used to be fun to spin the earth and track the sunlight. And if you had the ionospheric electron layer on, you could sync the spin rate and watch the radiation rotate around the planet.
    OR, if you are trying to spin the earth while watching the Orbital objects layer (satelites), it no longer works.
    Bummer. Bring back the free spin GE5.2 . I don’t see any reason not to.

  10. Frank Taylor says:

    @Ray: The free-spinning works fine for me in the GE desktop client. The Plug-ins default behavior is to spin and then slow and stop. This was done to reduce performance issues with browser apps. I believe there is an over-ride for this behavior for Earth API applications.

  11. @David H:
    Remove or rename and in the installation directory. I did:
    cd /opt/google-earth/
    sudo mv
    sudo mv

  12. Ick of the East says:

    Still no love for 64 bit systems. I still get those horrible fuzzy textures.

  13. It’s really faster!! 🙂 Good job!
    And another “fix”: Maximum memory cache size increased from 500MB to 1024MB.

  14. Leonardo Leidi says:

    I am very happy Buenos Aires is in 3D still in low resolution but it is a beggining

  15. Ray:
    You can change the spin behavior of GE 5.1 under Tools->Options->Navigation. Just check or uncheck the ‘Gradually slow the Earth….’ option.

  16. Ther are now named and numberd highway in China on Google Earth just like Google Earth.

  17. Anyone else notice issue with Network Links in 5.1?? For example, create a new Network Link use this for the URL.
    In 5.0, this would load fine via a Network Link. In 5.1 it doesn’t seem to want to load. But other kmz files on my server load just fine. It almost seems like Google has limited size of file that can be opened remotely via Network Links.

  18. From what I can figure out, Google has made a significant change to how remote files can be loaded via network links and URLs embedded in the pop up balloons. In previous versions, GE did not care how large the remote file was. But with 5.1, it appears to check the file size and won’t load the remote file if it’s over 1 megabyte. I’m not sure if this was intentional or is a bug in 5.1. Either way, it’s a bummer for me because many of the files at will not work in 5.1. Not sure what I’m going to do.

  19. @Xavier The Antimeridian polygon issue has not been fixed. And still remains a logged issue on earth-issues site and yet no one has accepted it.

  20. many airports have deliberately fuzzy imagery. You can get the higher resolution images in historical, but it doesn’t make sense. For example KALB- Albany International, and runway 4R at KJFK – Kennedy Int’l. Another Example Runway 27 at Stewart Int’l KSWF.

  21. @Roland: THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!
    Always annoying to run into what look like circa-1999 dependency issues. Would be nice for Google to actually deal with this in their Linux installer, but oh well. I’m just happy there’s a Linux version, period.

  22. Thank you, Roland, also!

  23. when i log on to google earth it automatically goes to new york. when i select a fly to site eg: yuma, az it goes there then automatically goes back to new york. i can’t get it to stay on any other site. anyone know why?

  24. TreatLinuxBetter says:

    Google chrome installs without a hitch on Ubuntu from a .deb package, why the hell can not the same thing happen on Ubuntu with Google-earth? every release there is a problem with the installation on Ubuntu, I am not going to say i am happy just to have a Linux version I think we should be past this kind of mindset now, do not be evil Google. QT library problems with 5.0 and now 5.10 with libstdc++ problems.

  25. With 5.1 images inside placemark popups no longer refresh. This is useless for viewing webcams inside GE. The only way to get a fresh image is to quit and restart.

  26. Anshuman Atre says:

    I tried to install it on Ubuntu 8.04. Doesn’t start up.
    The error I get is:
    $ ./googleearth
    ./googleearth-bin: ./ version `GLIBCXX_3.4.9′ not found (required by ./
    ./googleearth-bin: ./ version `GLIBCXX_3.4.9′ not found (required by ./
    I wish I hadn’t upgraded.. 🙁

  27. Chris Hinch says:

    We have a similar issue with KML Network Links working in 5.0 that do not work in 5.1. Any number of manual refreshs will work fine, but when the “next update” timer fires, the automatic refresh eventually times out and fails, going to a red dot.

  28. I recently purchased a Dell laptop with Windows 7 and tried to download Google Earth. The download completed but every time I tried to run the program, It opened up Internet Explorer and started to download again from the web. Whats up? Am I doing something wrong or does GE need an updated version to work in Windows 7?

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.