How to use StreetView in Google Earth

It’s a subject we’ve discussed before, but it’s worth taking another look. With all of the great new StreetView imagery arriving the last week, many people don’t realize how easy it is to view that imagery in Google Earth. If you find yourself in Google Earth using one of the many layers they’ve built in or exploring a KML file you recently downloaded, it can be handy to dive into StreetView mode without having to load your browser and use Google Maps.
This brief video gives you an overview of how it’s done:

If you prefer text-based instructions, here is a short explanation of how it’s done:

The first thing you’ll need to do is look for the Street View layer on the lower left of Google Earth and turn it on by clicking the little box to the left. Then look for the gold camera icons as you zoom into a street location of interest. If you single-click the left mouse button on a Street View camera icon, you get a placemark that shows the photo. Click the link there to enter the Street View image. Or, double-click to fly straight in.

Street View in Google Earth uses the special Photo Viewer tool which lets you pan around the inside of a 3D projected photo. Street View images are spherical panoramas allowing you to look around 360 degrees side-to-side and up-down. You can even see the spherical Street View photos as you zoom in close over a street. With Google Earth, you can adjust the transparency of the images and compare the background 3D terrain or 3D buildings (if available) and see that the Street View photos match the surrounding area. You can also turn on other layers such as the Geographic Web (including photos), Roads, Dining, Lodging, etc. to get more information on an area.

There are literally millions of StreetView images in Google Earth, with more being added all the time. Have fun browsing around and see what you can find. If you’d like some fun StreetView items to browse, check out or the Google Earth Hacks StreetView section. If you use the GEH collection, look for the “View in Google Earth” button to be flown directly to that item in Google Earth, as seen in the screenshot below.

GEH StreetView

If you know of other interesting collections of StreetView sights, leave a comment and let us know.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Can’t use the keyboard within PhotoViewer though which makes navigation very cumbersome. The ability to glide along the spheres and get an impression of the street is great though…

  2. The SV ‘experience’ is better in GE than in Maps. But with the reservation that in a part of the world like the UK where broadband width is limited for many of us, and possibly when PCs/Macs are not of sufficiently high spec, crashes seem frequent in SV on GE, particularly when moving from one icon to the next, but rare in Maps.

  3. I’m not big on StreetView in GE. I love that the data is there of course, but to me the implementation is a little cumbersome. That you get so close to the ground while traveling into the Streetview “spheres” necessarily makes the GE aerial data look very blurry, and to me this feels sloppy. Maps implementation is much speedier, especially with the recently added navigation capabilities. Just my opinion though.

  4. Chris, I have the same problem with VERY frequent crashes in Google Earth when looking at Street View images. It’s so bad with the latest version I’ve given up on it for now. I just use Google Maps for it.

  5. Why oh why Google Earth version lacks the compass at full screen :/

  6. In GE streetview crashes after viewing more than two images ‘has encountered a technical problem and needs to close’

  7. Nick Anderson says:

    A good example of where the Google map API platform simply fails to deliver when users looking for accurate cycle directions for the US, though I have seen some good examples for the UK too. The route takes users looking for a cycle route from Philadelphia to Newyork straight across the North Athlantic ocean !!,+PA&daddr=New+York,+NY&hl=en&geocode=Fc-fYQIdcxeF-ynrS7XU2LfGiTHBWD6M2BT1iQ%3BFR1AbQIdK8KW-yk7CD_TpU_CiTFi_nfhBo8LyA&mra=mr&mrcr=0&dirflg=b&sll=40.549287,-73.885803&sspn=1.03721,1.513367&ie=UTF8&z=9&lci=bike
    Business’s and developers beware of the basic google location solutions. very funnny just how bad they are, I will stick with Bing and ViaMichelin.

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