Google Earth 5.2 Released

Google has just released the newest version of Google Earth — version 5.2. This version is largely dedicated to supporting outdoor athletes and their GPS devices (hikers, bikers, runners, etc), but comes with a few other Goodies as well.
You’ve long been able to import GPS data to Google Earth, but 5.2 improves the way that it is handled and displayed. There are two main features that have been added to this version:
1. Tracks: Up to this point, GPS data had to be entered as either a series of line strings or hundreds of points. This new KML extension is a much smoother alternative, and is perfect for importing a GPS track. It contains all of the GPS data from your device; time stamps, lat/lon, heartrate, etc. The playback is similar to the “hundreds of points” display from before, but with a much smoother playback and a less cluttered KML file (both in the code and in the “my places” display).
In the past you’ve been able able to generate tours from your linestrings and point collections, and you’ll be able generate them from your new “tracks” as well.

2. Elevation Profiles: As part of this, you can now pull up an “elevation profile” of your track. This allows you to see the elevation gains/losses throughout the duration of your GPS track. If you want, you can zoom into a particular point in your track and just view that data (when climbing a large mountain, for example). Even better, the elevation profile can be generated from any linestring so you can use this feature on your existing KML files if you’d like.

In addition to those changes, there are a few other goodies included:
Improved embedded browser. It’s based on webkit (similar to Google’s Chrome browser), and slides in smoothly from the side of your screen when you click a link that requires it.

There are a few new enhancements to Google Earth Pro, including a better GIS import (improved UI, KML 2.2 compliant code, auto-regionation) and some cool new Pro-only layers such as US parcel data, demographic data and traffic count data.

Lastly, the new version comes with an updated version of the Google Earth Plug-in. This new update to the plug-in includes support for the new Tracks feature, but does not yet offer the Elevation Profile. That’s expected in a future release, but no timetable has been given.
You can download Google Earth 5.2 from

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.

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. nickvet419 says

    Lets start out with my issues… I now get an error while trying to open a gpx file, the error reads something in Japanese, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Also I noticed the functionality of the right mouse button. I used to be able to zoom to where the mouse was located. now it zooms to the center of the view. Also am not able to continuous zoom with the right mouse button. So, right mouse is a FAIL. Left mouse now pans way to fast, and is very jittery and unpredictable.. Also another fail..
    The things I do like is the elevation map and the integration of google chrome. In those 2 areas I have to give a thumbs up.

  2. From the post by Nickvet419 it seems there are downsides to 5.2, On 5.1 I can zoom to any place I double click with my Mac mouse (scroll wheel zooms to centre) and I don’t want to lose this choice.
    Also, does any GEB reader know of any downsides to having a Chrome like embedded browser?
    I’m going to wait for more reviews and comments before installing.

  3. Plus:
    The new Elevation Map feature is a real beauty, I like that a lot. Also small improvements like the ability to save measurements from the Ruler to a permanent track. Another big plus is the fact that finally they seem to have done away with the forced installation of the dreaded Google Updater application, at least in the pack that I downloaded there was no such thing.
    Under the hood the new version seems to demand more oomph from the computer it’s running on. My graphics card isn’t exactly new, and on this dated hardware this new version feels a *lot* more sluggish right off the bat than the previous one. Everything in the sat view window/pane, every mouse movement, every icon motion/zoom, just everything really, happens in noticable “steps” for me now and has lost all smoothness.

  4. Markus, it might be because the Terrain layer seems to be on permanently now. That’d certainly slow you down.
    I’m seeing the reverse. It’s at least an order of magnitude smoother and faster for me, if not two orders. It was ok before, but I’m having to get used to how responsive it is for me.
    With regards to the rotation speed I don’t consider that to be a downside so much a change that just needs getting used to how it is. I’m already fairly comfortable with it. The fact that zooming doesn’t keep going is a little annoying. I suspect that’s a bug.
    Also note that when you’re tilted now and use the right-click with the mouse movement that it controls your altitude without sliding you forwards or backwards. I like that change.
    I’m not sure about the terrain being on all of the time. I’ll have to see how that works. I can see things at sea without any issue, which was my main worry with their animated sea surface texture.

  5. Was this in there before? There’s a button on the Layers window frame that says “Google Gallery”. I THINK the gallery has been around in various forms, though the very first item is their imagery update network link.

  6. I blame my sinus infection. 🙂
    The more I think about it, the more it seems as though the Gallery has been around for ages, it’s just never been so readily accessible with the current new button and the in-GE Chrome browser.

  7. I know I’m putting up a lot of comments, but I do have another one after playing a bit. I find that the controls are very inconsistent. After working with it for a while, the vertical movement with right-click is not working in the way it was before. I can’t figure out how it happened either. If UI control issues continue to surface like this, I’d be inclined to give this update my first thumbs-down ever.

  8. As a pilot I’m very excited about the Elevation Profile.
    Opening a gpx-file I can see the altitude flown in the profile, along with a second graph with the speed. I can also select “adjusting the altitudes to ground height”, then I get the terrain height in the profile, in any case only either, but never both.
    So, what I’m missing is being able to display both, the profile of my flight path, as well as the terrain height below path.
    I’d say: would be neat to have an option to include the terrain profile automatically in the elevation profile graph.
    Also on my wishlist: being able to open IGC file, without first having to convert it to gpx.
    P.S.:thanks to previous post (Markus) for the hint with “ability to save measurements from the Ruler to a permanent track.” – which in turn can also provide terrain profile!

  9. Munden -“gallery:, but not “Google gallery” features as a primary layer on 5.1
    If you don’t like 5.2 you can re-install 5.1 from the ‘advanced set up’ page
    This also allows you to de-select automatic update, so presumably it is still in 5.2.
    The new embedded browser presumably allows Google to build up profiles of individual GE related browsing behaviour for their business purposes in a way not possible before.

  10. @Munden:
    I have Terrain enabled all the time anyway, so that’s not something I’d notice. The slowdown and de-smoothing I’m experiencing is usually due to developers jumping on new APIs or API functions at some point, leaving old hardware/drivers/capability limits behind a bit. Obviously that’s par for the course since you can’t keep supporting old stuff forever, but with GE breaking things that worked well before it’s a bit of a needless transition. I can’t see a reason why e.g. the icon zoom when you mouse-over them now is so sluggish for me. (This has almost certainly to do with the “improvements” to the internal browser – in the past, changes to the rendering in general have had a good or bad effect on the overall smoothness. I guess people with newer hardware simply don’t notice such changes since it’s always smooth for them anyway.)
    And yeah, that Gallery button is a new design.

  11. If you have the Elevation profile open at the bottom and drag to edit your line, the profile updates automatically; fun to play with.

  12. For the next SketchUp, should add support tools to develop models and scenarios for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and DDS texture editor, tools for the night textures and meshes. Would be easier to use than 3DS Max and Gmax. And you can import and export of those two softwares.

  13. I’m finding that the browser in 5.2 is brutally slow to appear when I click on a link to enable the internal browser. I’ve reverted back to 5.1 :-\

  14. The Terrain option can still be turned on/off. It has been moved from the Layers to Tools/Options/3D View tab.

  15. GE: (beta)
    computer: Windows 7-32, 2.66GHz Core2 Duo, 768MB Nvidea graphics, DirectX 9.
    Speed is not a problem for me. GE runs smoothly. Chrome browser slides in smoothly. GPX files open fine.
    Grab and toss: left mouse button G&T to pan: works fine, as before. Right mouse G&T to zoom in/out: no longer works, stops zoom when you release mouse button.
    Right mouse grab and drag, to zoom in/out: as you zoom to the ground, angle stays the same. Before it would tilt toward horizontal as you approached the ground.
    I don’t see a “Google Gallery” button next to the “Layers” title. Instead I see “Earth Gallery”, which takes me to That Chrome web page, embedded in GE, has a “Back to Google Earth” button at top-left. This is not the same as the “Gallery” branch under Layers.
    Double-Click (DC) left mouse: zoom closer to location where screen pointer/hand is.
    DC right mouse: zoom out in direct line away from center of screen, at current view/tilt angle.

  16. I’ve got a fast 64-bit machine with plenty of RAM. The new browser takes 15-20 seconds to slide in, and the page then takes another 15 seconds to load. In the meantime, GE is locked up.
    I turned the new browser off, hit the same link, and it loaded instantaneously in Firefox.
    Back to the drawing board on the new browser. Absolutely unusable for me and cripples my workflow.

  17. The built-in browser works very well for me, but it is easy to disable if it’s causing problems for any of you:
    – Tools –> Options
    – “General” tab
    – Check the box for “Show web results in external browser”

  18. It’s not just the browser — a simple balloon coming up takes forever and locks up GE until it loads. I’m going back to 5.1. This one was released too soon.

  19. I’m not *positive* this is new, but on my older MacBook Pro, this is the first version that I’ve been able to turn on Antialiasing.
    Makes me happy (and smoooth!)

  20. @Markus, ah, well that’s a bummer. I’d hoped your problems were simpler, in a way that doesn’t leave your system behind.
    @Chris, thanks. Again I have to blame my sinus infection for my utter lack of patience last night. 🙂 It was only when I was going to bed that it hit me what was causing the ‘inconsistent’ control problem. If you tilt only slightly off of looking directly down the right-click zoom continues to work on your line of sight. Once the angle you’re looking at becomes more parallel to the ground, THAT is the point when the right-click becomes elevation-only and not a zoom feature.
    pfft. User malfunction. 🙂

  21. @Chris – I can’t get back to 5.1 with that link. It starts a setup and stops by saying a newer version is installed. Any other idea?
    We are working in the field of traffic monitoring – with very fast 64-bit PC and can’t wait one minute for each click. Be glad just tried it on just one PC …

  22. Paul van Dinther says

    Camera clipping is fixed too. You can now do a closeup of skyscraper roofs without them disappearing on you. This means that my “Helicopters” game will have better building collision detection and “Ships” will now properly let you fly the Hindenburg in a third person view.
    Let the era of closeup Sketch-up tours begin.

  23. When I pan north when I am on the ground tilted down, it goes very slow and does not follow the terrain anymore (I mean medium to high terrain).

  24. TERRAIN: Interesting note – you CAN turn it off. They moved the toggle button out of the layers and next to the Terrain Quality slider in the “3D View” tab of the Options menu.

  25. @Martin – I had the same trouble; had to uninstall 5.2 before it would let me reinstall 5.1.
    So you’re running 64-bit too, and having the same problems as I am? I wonder if the lockups and speed issues are related to that?
    By the way, simply setting the browser to external will NOT make 5.2 usable if you’re experiencing the glacial browser problem. They’re apparently using the same engine internally to render the balloons.
    I hope they can get this fixed soon; there are a lot of new KML features I want to use. I hate to say it, but 5.2 was simply not ready for release. Nifty features aside, on a six-month-old Windows 7 64-bit dual-core machine from a major vendor with 8 GB RAM it shouldn’t be breaking on something as simple as HTML balloons.

  26. I see a lot of bug!
    for example a can’t see the sky, exactly the sky is black with stars
    ps: atmosphere is ON

  27. Gokul Varadhan says

    Look’s like you have unchecked the “Automatically tilt while zooming” preference in Tools\Options\Navigation. Please check this preference and it should restore the normal zoom behavior.

  28. Middle-Island says

    I have an old pc from 2001…I’m finding the 3D buildings loading twice as fast with 5.2….In addition, the more recent higher resolution street views don’t freeze the computer anymore. Movement (scrolling) is also much smoother, albeit a little more sensitive to the movement of the curser and tends fly off really fast.

  29. I don’t know if this is new, but I’ve not seen it before downloading this version: RAIN. If you turn on the cloud layer and go where its raining you will actually see animated falling rain in the scene.

  30. Duncan – I can’t seem to duplicate that. Can anyone else?

  31. Something else I noticed… the time of day shading is better. They appear to be using smooth shading across the triangles (normal per vertex instead of per face). The old version would show the underlying triangle boundaries.

  32. @ Martin Installing a previous version is not something I have tried this time, but it worked for me a few months back when what was the latest version died on me and I dragged it off my Mac, re-installing later when Google must have fixed the problem. So sorry I don’t have an alternative aside from searching the forums, but I can;t see why the previous version is offered if it can’t be installed.
    If anyone from Google is reading this it would be helpful to provide more information in this case and generally tell the user what exactly is installed with GE and how to get rid of it if necessary

  33. I am experiencing very slow response times when I open almost any baloon feature, such as panoramio, wikiloc, everytrail. I have to wait about 5 seconds just for the baloon to popup with text, and then about 5 more seconds to wait for the images. I think this has to be render related and not connection related since the connection speedtest shows similar values I had before upgrading to 5.2, and baloons opened quickly before.
    Regarding the positives, The elevation profile is great, I wish when I am playing a track tour and I have the elevation profile on screen, that a mark could be made on the profile indicating the playback position, and not just having the opposite, the red arrow showing on the 3d map In the corresponding track position if I move the cursor along the profile.

  34. In the Elevation Profiles Pullup you can see the curves of your imported GPS Data. Cool option.
    I’m flying by helicopter and I Tag every trip.
    I import the Geotag my flights in Google Earth.
    In the GPS import, you can set the import of GPS ground elevations. For importing my flights, I do not choose this option: So I have the flight altitude.
    We therefore obtain the altitude above sea level (normal 😉 lol)
    Google earth know for each Tag the ground Altitude.
    It would be interresting to see the altitude above ground level in the Elevation pullup schowing (Sea Altitude – ground altitude = Flight altitude over Ground)
    Perhaps in future GE version 😉

  35. Since installing a new version I ocasionally get errors in ge-plugin while using building maker it often refuse obedience. Even downgrading version to 5.1 didn’t changed that.

  36. Tim Brastow says

    Ugh, I’ve noticed a big decrease in GE performance since upgrading. Image tiles are also slow to load, for example, I just saw an image of Austrailia over Canada!
    Another nitpitck is that I can no longer tilt/rotate the earth by holding down the mouse scroller and moving the mouse around. Instead, holding down the mouse scroller locks in and zooms in/out.
    BTW, computer is Windows XP Pro, 3.4 GHZ Pentium 4, 2.5 GB RAM, and ATI RADEON X700 (PCI Express, 256MB)

  37. I noticed exactly the same problem with tiles! (only with DirectX rendering) Sometimes the wrong tiles appear, or just a dark gray patch instead of the tile… (I also erased the cache to be sure that wasn’t the problem)
    And, I always used to keep the ’tilt while zooming’ option disabled and, despite that, the right-click zoom used to work smoothly. Now it doesn’t. Bug..?
    Very disappointing relase altogether!
    (Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHZ Pentium 4, 2 GB RAM, and ATI RADEON X800SE)

  38. @Duncan – Nice catch, I can see it raining too! I even saw some snow in the higher elevations.
    It seems to be pretty specific to areas that are actually getting rain, vs. areas just with clouds. Turn on the Conditions and Forecasts layer to find a good rainy spit. Then zoom in.

  39. Hmmm. Anyone else unable to find the “create tour” button (supposed to look like the path icon with a black arrow)to convert a track to a tour?

  40. Has anyone else had problems updating from GE Pro 5.1 to 5.2? I tried to update, now when I dbl click on the GE Pro icon to run it, it starts up initially, is frozen for ~5 seconds, then crashes.

  41. joao dias says

    I hope I’ll soon find a way to go back to my dorect X9 mode when reinstalling new updates.

  42. Hello,
    Problem while updating to GE 5.2: it reads 0x80072ee2.
    Who has the solution?

  43. With Google Earth 5.2 , I try to go into streetview and get an error “To use street view, you need Adobe Flash Player version 10 or newer.Get the latest Flash Player.”
    If I open IE, and go onto google maps, I can see the street view with no difficulty.
    Anyone have any ideas how to fix this? I tried to uninstall and re-installing both Adobe Flash and Google Earth, but error still occurs.
    I will revert to the previous version until we can confirm that this is working properly.

  44. I installed the latest version of Google Earth, 5.2 because I wanted to see Disneyland Paris in 3D. But the thing that I don’t like in this new version is that when you zoom all the way down to eye-level and use your arrow keys to navigate, you move too slow. I want to be able to experience Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris in my house and it takes forever to just walk through 1/8 of Main Street. Is there some way to make the controls go faster?

  45. Who cares, they still store their data in %appdata% instead of letting people store it in the install directory. Baa.

  46. @Victor: it also doesn’t follow the terrain, as mentioned in my earlier post. Go to some mountains and zoom to eye level, go forward, and it doesn’t follow it when you go down, instead staying at the same elevation. When you go up, it will zoom closer to touch the ground and go a little up and this will keep going until the top.

  47. Dave Timpe says

    Been using 5.2 several weeks now, and mostly it works fine, but occasionally I get “holes in the earth” where a tile of the satellite image doesn’t show up. Sometimes I can even see stars through it, or a misplaced image from somewhere else. I haven’t seen anyone else with this complaint.
    One place it tends to happen a lot is in the highland area West of Marquette, MI. It’s not always in the same spots, but there always seem to be holes around there. It’s annoying, because that’s an area where I like to go backpacking.

  48. ian taylor says

    Will Google Earth please provide a fix for the very slow loading of web pages in 5.2 – or give clear advice on how to revert to 5.1 without loosing all my “places”

  49. ACSBehemothHellcat says doesn’t have a link for 5.2

  50. Roger Arao says

    I am from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Looking at the map of my city in google earth, its still dated March 2004. It’s very old already. There are so many changes already. I wish you would update the map soon.
    Thank you.

  51. The Elevation profile is amazing. Now I can plan better my trekking nights! But it’s not working properly in Safari. Someone noted that?

  52. Hello… I’am from Indonesia… so, sorry if my english is not good enough.
    I’m just wondering…. why should I always get message error everytime I try to install the googleearth?
    The error mess is :
    Error 1402.Could not open key:
    UNKNOWN\KmlPhotoOverlayCoClass.KmlPhotoOver\CurVer. Verify that you have…..
    I’ve tried to clean the registry with regcleaner software so many times..over and over….
    Could u please tell me why? and what should I do.
    Thank you.

  53. How do you save the elevation profile as a DWG or DGN file or as a raster file?

  54. Ramesh Patil says

    Version released on 1/sep/2010, and available on, etc; but not by direct update from the application !! Still quite slow to load compared to Ver 5.1

  55. Julio Pereda says

    I just installed version 5.2 and I noticed that I can’t navigate with my xbox 360 controller. With the flight simulator I can use it with any problem. In the previous version I could use it to navigate so I think there is way to activate it. Is there a bottom or something, or I can’t use it to navigate in this version?

  56. Julio Pereda says

    sorry I wanted to say button.

  57. Douglas Barclay says

    Just installer 5.2 – no problem, except I did not want the Google Chrome, that was part of the installation, and nowhere to stop installing.
    Uninstalled Chrome.
    Now when I look at the water around Scandinavia, especially the Baltic, but also North Sea, there are nothing to look at, but blurry blue colour and no details ????
    In the Stockholm Archipelago there are missing parts, as if the thick BLUE Clouds took away the sueface of the earth ???
    What is going on ?????

  58. Douglas Barclay says

    By the way, why can my measurements in the bottom right hand corner (view hieght) and in the middle of the screen (bottom, height of the terrain), not show Km and meters, when I ask for it.
    They shopw Miles and sometimes Km ??

  59. I have found any of the 5.x versions progressively slower, with mouse cursor erratic, panoramio photos lagging before display, and choppy movement in general. All these problems are documented in many places on the web.
    Reverting to ver 4.3724 has restored the performance I expect to have. Previous versions to 4.3 will not display streetview, so this is the oldest I can run and still have streetview.
    I have plenty of horsepower, so the computer is not an issue – slow Earth 5 is definitely a problem.

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.