Great new way to view photos in Google Earth

For more than five years, since we first learned of Panoramio, photos have been a big part of Google Earth. Being able to fly around and view geo-referenced photos in Google Earth is a great experience. Today, that experience got better.
Google has just enhanced the photos layer with clusters, making it much easier to find and browse photos on the map. To get started, make sure that you’ve enabled the Photos layer in the left layers panel, and then zoom in anywhere on earth. As you get closer, you’ll see icons begin to appear; click one, and you’ll see a screen similar to this:


You can then click any item int he filmstrip to quickly view it, or use the left/right arrows on your keyboard to browse through them.
As always, you can add your own photos to Google Earth by simply uploading them at

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. When I look at interesting places the view is obliterated by Panoramio icons. If this cluster view doesn’t reduce that clutter then I will continue to turn off photos almost all the time.

  2. Arizona CJ says

    I think this might be related to this change (just a guess).
    Previously, when I moused over a photo icon, the caption popped up. Now, it doesn’t. This happened at the same time on two separate systems, one running Win2k and the other Win Vista.
    Any idea how I can get the pic captions back? The pic feature is not much use without them. I’ve looked everywhere I can think of in the program, but haven’t found a setting for this yet.
    Google Earth
    5.1.3509.4636 (beta)

    • Betty Richards says

      have you got an answer for this? I can´t see the pictures either. Don´t read a solution in here.

  3. Dave Timpe says

    Yes, I miss the captions also. Different OS, different version of GE, same result:
    Win XP, GE (beta)

  4. Panoramio clustering is uselessly slow when we have only satellite internet. Thos photos are now no good to us. One could already click on the photographer to get more photos, so what’s the point?

  5. What happened to the Panoramio pic captions? They are of little use without the captions to keep track of what’s been viewed and of what might be of interest. Please bring them back. (I saw something on Releases about GE fixing those captions when “scale legend” was enabled–what’s that? Where is that?)

  6. Why have the captions disappeared when you “mouse-over” the Panoramio icon? The functionality of both Panoramio and Google Earth is diminished by this change. Also, the photos are very slow to load, and I have a very fast connection.
    To the Google Earth programming staff: you do GREAT work and I’m quick to sing your praises, but this new tweak restricts the available information and slows down the process by which we can explore the globe. Please! No updates that serve to reduce the level of performance please!

  7. A COMPLETE DISASTER … images blanked!
    Running GE 5.2 on Mac OSX 10.4 until this “enhancement” the photo layer worked perfectly – it was easy to zoom in and click on icons where there was a high density, and with a bit of luck get a precise location for the photo as well.
    Now the ‘clusters’ are inactive with no image in the main frame, and single images are only half rendered. The only way to view is to go to the Panoramio site, which still works OK.
    Google, please fix this bug.

  8. I used to be able to spend hours exploring on GE. The load times on Panoramio photos are now unbearable and I agree on the captions complaints, too. Please fix ASAP.

  9. Good news – bug fixed
    A recent quick check shows that the ‘images blanked’ bug which I posted on yesterday has been fixed. The frames are full and the slides roll by. The fact that a photo cluster is not as precisely located as a single icon remains, but is not a major issue.
    As slide shows accessible via the populated place icon had continued to function, it looked like a bug, and hopefully it will stay fixed.

  10. Perfect for geography teachers.

  11. nick gunner says

    Bring back the old photos with the captions that popped up when moused or a similar format .This assisted in navigation and made photo selection very easy Waiting for an eternity just to see what has been clicked on has made this,my favorite feature completely useless. Fix this Now

  12. Why are the pictures so slow to load. Over 50% of the time they never load at all, when they do it takes an impossible length of time.

  13. what happened to the photos? i love browsing and strolling all over earth and seeing pictures all over now i cant do that anymore.what has change?did i click something on my end or did google earth change something.please bring back the photos.hard to use the panoramic icon.

  14. I used to see photos when I clicked on the photo icon, not the camera. Now I just get the location. Did you change something or have I clicked something on my end? If it is something I have done, PLEASE tell me how to fix it!!!!! If you changed it, please change it back because I really love that feature.

  15. Myron B Badger says

    Feb 2012 – The Panaramio photos in Google Earth are now so slow that they are totally useless. At first I thought they simply weren’t working at all but it’s just that they take minutes now to load. I don’t know what Google has done to it but for gods sake change it back. This has been an ongoing problem with the photos for quite some time. We go through periods where they work – then like now we have periods where they virtually do not work. Time you people got your act together – you reckon you’re so good at what you do – fix this problem. I’ve had enough of it – it’s easier to go to the Panaramio site and look at them there – at least their site works. Yours is crap.

  16. Martin Jones says

    Ignoring all the clever new features lets get back to basics: be honest most of the panoramio pictures are rubbish and should never be allowed on Google Earth in the first place! Who is editing this stuff? If I see another insipid, under exposed sunset of some obscure, dull location or somebody’s pathetci back garden with cat I’ll eat my mouse. Come on Panoramio, sort this out!!

  17. SteveGinIL says

    FYI everyone:
    LOTS and LOTS of people have had this problem.
    I’ve seen a lot in searching for a solution. Finally, I found one decent solution: Go to and load up v4 or v5 of GE. I had to try two versions. v4.0205 zoomed and all okay, but Panoramio pics wouldn’t open. The last v5 in DirectX might as well have been frozen in amber since before the last ice age. Changing to OpenGL got me running like I used to in GE, AND the pics opened up about the same, too. I will try v7 when it comes out, but am keeping the install .exe file for v5 on hand just case.
    For those of you who have the ‘Let’s get back to basics’ mindset, the fix here seems to do just that.
    More info: At the same time, on one of the problem threads in GE Groups, a Google troubleshooter came on and said it was a 3rd party software problem. But after more than 6 months, the problem never went away, so if that was the problem they sure didn’t fix it.

  18. SteveGinIL says

    Here is THE fix for it:
    1. Uninsall GE.
    2. Go to
    3. Download the v5.1.3533
    4. Install it.
    That’s it. I did that and Google Earth is running better than ever. Instant Panoramio pics. Fast panning and faster ‘focus’ than I had before the problem hit.
    * * * * IT IS NOT ANYONE’S HARDWARE. * * * *
    It is something that they put in v5.2 and later.

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.