Introducing Google Earth 6!

Google has just unveiled Google Earth 6.0 beta, and it has some great new features in it! The three main features they’ve added are:
• Tighter integration with Street View
• 3D Trees
• Updated historical imagery system

Tighter Integration with StreetView


Street View has been a part of Google Earth since 2008, but it’s always felt a little bit bolted-on. You had to find it under the layers, and it was a bit clunky to navigate around. Now, the experience is fully integrated and it’s remarkably smooth.
Similar to Google Maps, simply grab the Pegman from alongside of your navigation controls and roads will highlight blue where Street View imagery is available. Drop him on a road you’ll fly right down to that Street View level!
In addition, the controls have tightened up, you can toggle between Street View and standard mode very easily, and you can finally direct people into Street View using KML. It’s a very slick experience, and it’s been integrated very well. Here’s a short video that shows the new Street View feature in action:

3D Trees


A few years ago, Microsoft added 3D trees to what was then known as Virtual Earth. It was impressive, but they only included a few cities. Google has spent that time building a system that could do two things successfully:
• Allow them to add a huge volume of 3D trees.
• Integrate them in such a way as to not affect the performance of Google Earth.
As you browse around, I think you’ll agree that they succeeded. The initial release includes over 80,000,000 trees in a variety of cities including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Athens, Tokyo and Berlin. In addition, they’ve build out some full forests in parts of Africa and Mexico.
The models are all species accurate, and look amazingly sharp. You can control the tree layer using a separate sub-layer inside of “3D Buildings”.
They’ve been working with various partners to help model threatened forests around the world and have made the forest models as accurate as possible with help from organizations such as the Green Belt Movement, the Amazon Conversation Team and CONABIO.
For more on the new 3D trees, check out this short video:

Updated Historical Imagery System

The update to the historical imagery is a fairly minor change, but should get help make people much more aware of they imagery that’s available. Google has found that users are often unaware of the excellent historical imagery that is available, and this update should help remedy that issue.
When browsing a location, Google Earth will continue to show the imagery date in the lower-left corner, which is a great feature. Now, if historical imagery is available in your current view you’ll see a small icon appear down there that shows the date of the oldest available imagery, like this:


Here is a video that shows more about this new feature:

To get started, you can download Google Earth 6 at
What’s your favorite new feature?

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. Definitely the 3D Trees

  2. I did not found any street view feature of this latest version of google eart!!

  3. now I did find it, but how I can to zoom the street view photos?!!

  4. I usually keep the view – show navigation – set to “never”. Does this mean that there is no way to use the street view function without changing it to “always”?

  5. steve white says

    google earth most of won’t work if you live outside the US(TM)

  6. Well, i live in switzerland. I installed GE6 now.
    But I donst see any 3D Trees, also not in the layer. Streetview works perfect!

  7. Streetview works well except the zoom feature is now gone.

  8. Will the Space Navigator work within the new streetview Functions? Doesnt seem to work for me, but when I entered streetview for the first time there was a box that said use joystick or mouse to navigate. Anyone use a joystick / 3D mouse in the new streetview?

  9. Seem to be major advances – but is there any significant increase in the hardware spec needed for satisfactory operation of GE6, or any regional variation in content or functionailty (some posts suggest there might be), and is a Chrome type browser integral?
    Google does not seem to have covered these points in the launch, and information from GEB readers would be much appreciated before doing trial and error tests through an installation.

  10. How can we (modelers) add 3d tree to GE layer in other cities around the World?

  11. Could it be the new trees layer only shows up for certain graphic cards? Streetview is working just fine.

  12. With every relese there are a few problems.
    Misplaced trees, trees not really there, trees in the middle of roads (balbo ave, Chicago).
    Integrations with user created trees? none. It is common practice now to add trees to building models. These 3d trees now overlap with those 3d trees in building models. What can be done?
    By the way, The trees look great, but… Could we not just add a tool to sketchup so users could easily add trees themselves?
    Street view:
    Great!! Finally some functionality!! Can be a little choppy moving from image to image, but fairly easy to navigate. I like how you can switch back and forth street view and ground level view. now lets include some more of google maps functions!!!
    Historical button:
    Nice addition… is that all you have?

  13. I need a direct link to linux download, cause I’m not able to get it from google’s site.

  14. TIGER EXCLUDED – Mac users should be aware that GE6 is for OSX 5 or later according to this relatively obscure update of GE system requirements
    Great shame that the robust Tiger is excluded, and perhaps Google could change their minds and invest a bit of their billions.

  15. What’s about the Win-7 x64 systems? Does opening of placemarks work fast or have I wait as long as I did in the last two updates? I won’t like to go through this again…Whats about those not using Chrome?

  16. @Martin: I was one of the people having trouble with the placemarks opening very slowly on Win 7 64-bit. GE 6 placemarks open very quickly for me now; a 100% improvement. This is a good release — well worth the download.

  17. So far, it’s so slow on my 4 year old Win XP computer that if I can’t figure out a way to speed it up I’ll be looking for some way to go back to GE 5.2

  18. Yeah, I agree

  19. First up, FAVORITE CHANGE: The ruler retains your last unit of measurement! I hated having to constantly choose meters or feet over and over as I was looking around.
    I like the new Street View except for two points. I dislike having no zoom feature in GE. That really bothers me. Secondly, I get tired of having to grab the globe to stop it from zooming down to ground level when I didn’t put the Street View Peg Man on anything to see. That second one is more minor really; I suspect I’ll get used to it.
    I’ll need to tinker with the Time Slider, but I’m sure I’ll get used to the new behavior fairly quickly once I trust it more.
    Over all I’m pleased with the update. 🙂

  20. I really like the new street view! Unfortunately It still goes through that disorienting and unnecessary death spiral to the ground move. It also needs to have the forward and back arrows like in Google Maps. They’re getting closer, but I’ll still probably chose Google maps for ‘Streetviewing’.

  21. If you can’t see the 3D trees layer try this: change the language of Google Earth to “English (US)” in the options menu.
    This worked for me.

  22. @Ben
    I have tried with Space Navigator mouse and it seems that it does not work in street view and Ground level view.
    The only thing you can do is assigning “page down key” and “page up key” to its L and R buttons and navigate that way…

  23. @ Dave Timpe GOING BACK TO 5.2 you can download GE 5.2 from the GE advanced downloads page
    by clicking the right hand radio button. The option of GE 5.1 went from the page yesterday.

  24. It is possible now to save Lines and Paths from the Ruler Tool as polys!

  25. Paul — Good find! That’s a handy little addition.

  26. where is the import feature?

  27. I haven’t quite given up on 6.0 yet. I’ve succeded in speeding it up, but now it crashes with regularity (I’m sending Google a dump each time). Last time, I decided to go try a few more options changes, it crashed before I got the chance. What I can see of it looks quite good. I agree with other criticisms of street view controls. It still isn’t as good as Google Maps. It isn’t broke there, so maybe they shouldn’t fix it.

  28. I now have 6.0 working acceptably. Undoing my experiment with Open GL fixed the crash problem, and it seems fast enough if I watch how many layers are enabled. It seems to bog down on some of the Gallery stuff. Still playing around with the check marks to find out the troublesome one. It might be YouTube. I don’t think it’s the 3d trees, because they weren’t enabled when I first started up, and I was getting slowed down even then. Also, most of the places I visit don’t have any 3d trees yet, anyway. They’re impressive in San Francisco.

  29. Well, it is still definitely in beta…
    I just downloadaed and installed it over v5.2. Now it crashes immediately after start.
    As the 5.2 installer is no longer available on the google site, I cannot even rollback, so I have no GE 6, no GE 5.2! 🙁

  30. After 2 rounds of remove/reboot/reinstall, it finally works for me.
    The new features are great!

  31. Get older versions of GE here:
    Paul, in GE5.2 you could save a ruler path as a path placemark.

    Judging by the comments posted on GEB, GE 6 is not an unqualified success, and hopefully Google will act on users’ views.
    Main problems seem to be the conflict between the zoom function and the new Street View, as well as the operation of the latter, and also problems with operating systems and hardware which are not entirely up to date, and quite possibly for those with limited band width.
    Assuming that Google do not want o lose customers through such problems, they should continue to support and make available versions of GE 5, and keep open the option of using the full Street View functionality through Maps.

  33. Very excited about the 3D trees feature, although disappointed that there seems to be no way to plant our own trees.
    I would desperately like to make a tool using the Google maps API allowing our gardeners to plant virtual trees on our university campus.
    Also I am having great difficulty with the speed of the latest version. For systems without a discrete graphics card GE now runs very slowly indeed. Increasing caches helps but there seems to have been significant slowdown.
    Apart from that, GE is my favourite geo app!

  34. Ryan — Agreed. The missing zoom feature in Street View is unfortunate.
    Ben — It seems that the Space Navigator is disabled for all Ground Level and Street View uses.
    Pavel — I don’t believe there is any way to add your own 3D trees using their system. You’ll simply need to model your own in SketchUp, as others have done for the past year or so. I’d expect that to change in the future, but I haven’t heard anything yet.
    Nickvet419 — I agree that the historical imagery tweak was relatively minor, but I think it’ll get a lot more people using the feature.
    Dave Timpe — Is it slow even with the trees disabled? All in all, I’ve found the performance to be a bit better.

  35. @ Mickey – thanks for your responses – there have also been comments about Chrome installing with GE 6 as default browser. Is it possible to uninstall Chrome permanently i.e. it doesn’t keep re-installing, or to restore a preferred browser as the default, in all operating systems?

  36. Chris — I’m not sure yet. I’ll do some digging and see what I can find.

  37. Like a couple of people above I’m having big problems with crashing. As soon as I installed it and the loading screen came up it immediately crashed and this happens every time I try to start up.
    As theres no option to go back to 5.2 I’m now stuck with nothing

  38. I’m trying to use the Trees layer, and it worked cool in San Francisco. In the Nisene Marks forest in Santa Cruz county, it appears to just overwhelm GE, and all kinds of flashes.
    Mainly I’d like to look at forests in the amazon, and the Congo, but can’t figure out how to tell when the trees images have been set up.
    The potential for this trees layer is great!

  39. It’s slow sometimes with all 3D layers disabled (and sometimes not). The only time I was in “treed” country with that layer enabled it was actually working fairly well. It seems it just starts loading an image at lowest quality, then stalls, when it’s on its worst behavior. I may be able to navigate well, but the images are blurry.
    Seems to be having another bad day today, but not as bad as yesterday. It was quite fast for several days before that, and probably was faster than 5.2.
    Sometimes I can find something eating up CPU time and kill it, but I have slow periods when the CPU isn’t overloaded, not much activity is on the DSL, memory isn’t overloaded, and no other known reasons for slow behavior exist. I thought I was fixing it by disabling layers, but yesterday I turned almost everything off and it was still slow or stalling completely for an hour or more until I gave up. It could be related to slow servers and other such infrastructure problems, but since it doesn’t seem to be a general complaint, it must be local to my ISP if so, and there were no such problems with 5.2 except in the earliest beta version of that upgrade. Today seems marginally better so far. Maybe it’s just a beta issue.

  40. Looking over some of the other comments, there was a Chrome update the other day, and it might coincide with my latest batch of slow behavior on GE6. If so, the Chrome people and the GE people might need to get together. The biggest problem I have with chrome updates is that there’s no warning when you get them. You start the browser, and it’s been updated. I really prefer the Acrobat plug-in to their pdf reader.

  41. @Dave Timpe even Google seem to be over reaching themselves here, and it’s high time the issues about Chrome were clarified.
    Have you any problems with limited broadband width?

  42. Dave Timpe says

    I have what’s supposed to be a 1.3 megabit service, but it rarely goes over 850 kilobits in actual data transfer rates. But when GE6 is functioning normally, that seems to be more than adequate. When it’s being cranky, there are periods when nothing much seems to be coming down the pipe even though there’s lots of detail missing. The images are still in the early stages of loading in, the tiles don’t quite join up right, if 3d buildings are enabled they either don’t render or stop in a sort of ghostly phase. The rest of the web is still working normally under these cases, so I don’t think it’s my connection that’s at fault, and sometimes GE 6 works just fine.
    The upgrade before the version of 5.2 I was running previously had similar issues, then the problem went away with the version I was running until last week.

  43. Dave Timpe says

    For what it’s worth, when the new imagery came out today, I fired up GE6 and everything seemed normal. No new imagery in any of the places I regularly visit, but the problems of yesterday are gone without me changing anything.

  44. I just installed GE6. I’ve not used GE much for directions, but for kicks, tried it in GE6 from my place to my daughter’s. My home is in northern New Castle County, DE and my daughter lives in Columbia, MD. The first part of the trip involves traversing south on Foulk Road to US 202 S. A few hundred yards thereafter, I get on I-95S to Columbia.
    I immediately noticed that when I would get to a split in Foulk Road where bearing left takes you to Rt. 141 (local bypass around Wilmington, DE) and going straight takes you to US 202S… but GE identifies the straight part as going to “US 202N” — emphasis on the “N”. That’s completely wrong, and if a traveler actually got on 202N, they would be heading the opposite direction they should.
    Does Google want to know about direction errors like this and, if so, where does one report them? Or do they just use NAVTEQ or TeleAtlas, which are notoriously wrong (I know; I have a Garmin Nuvi that is wrong many times).

    I have the 3d trees layer checked but I dont see any trees! I am in San Francisco and I am running on DirectX 9!

  46. David — I’m not sure of the problem offhand. Does switching to OpenGL mode help?

  47. Marco Rinaldi says

    I really dislike the choice to remove the zoom function in Street View mode.
    For thi reason I uninstalled GE6 and reinstalled GE5.2, waiting for the re-introduction of the useful zoom function. 🙁

  48. Wow,COOL.3d trees and 3d buildings….

  49. I have GE 5.2 on my home computer Windows XP Pro. I have GE 6.0 on a ACER netbook Windows 7. The photographs used to be a little rectangle and worked well, now they are a sort of shield. These “shields” work slowly in GE 6.0 but don’t work at all in 5.2. I need the 5.2 for another flight simulator program. How can I make the “shields” work in 5.2?

  50. Probably a nice update, but I cannot install it. Had Google Earth five point something and downloaded 6.0. Install ok without errors, but the version that opens is! Tried downloading another time, removing old version and installing another time, but the problem remains. Absolutely no error messages. Spooky. Any idea what’s wrong? Win 7 64 bit.

  51. I have a Mac Powerbook G4 running Leopard (10.5.8). When I download, instead of GE 6 I get–no pegman, no street level option under layers.
    When I try to go to the system requirements under that Chris suggested, the thing flashes at me (about .25 seconds) and disappears, which is well beyond my reading speed.
    I really miss that street level view.
    Also–for whoever is running this site–when I have used your preview function, then tried to post after the preview, all my text vanishes with a message saying there is no text.

  52. I have a Mac Powerbook G4 running Leopard (10.5.8). When I download, instead of GE 6 I get–no pegman, no street level option under layers.
    When I try to go to the system requirements under that Chris suggested, the thing flashes at me (about .25 seconds) and disappears, which is well beyond my reading speed.
    I really miss that street level view.
    Also–for whoever is running this blog–when I have used your preview function, then tried to post after the preview, all my text has vanished with a message saying that the comment failed because there was no text in the box. That happened three times in a row.
    Then when I tried to post without previewing, it refused with a message saying that the comment had failed because “Too many comments have been submitted from you in a short period of time. Please try again in a short while.”

  53. always use caution when loading a third-party executable file on your computer.

  54. Here’s a short video that shows the new Street View feature in action:

  55. Eh, Street View in Google Earth has been broken for me since version 6. Distortion, shear, streaking images are completely useless. The old camera icon layer was far better. Congrats, Google.

  56. Street View imagery is available. Drop him on a road you’ll fly right down to that Street View level!

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.