Google Earth A to Z: Overview Map

overview.jpgThe Overview Map is an available feature in Google Earth to help you determine your position on the Earth. You can turn it on by going to the “View” menu as shown to the right and select “Overview Map“.
The overview map is a handy tool which shows a miniature overview of the earth map in the lower right corner of the 3D view. A red rectangle (or a cross hair when very close) highlights your current zoomed view. If you point your mouse at another location on the overview map and double click your left mouse button you will be flown over to the new location (and end up at the same altitude as your last position).
The overview map helps you keep perspective where on the Earth you are looking at, and is a fast way to go to another part of the world you want to see. You can turn the overview map on and off by keyboard shortcut: CTRL-M (a different combination on the Mac). You can also adjust the size of the Overview Map by going to the GE Options (under “Tools->Options” on Windows, or “Preferences” on the Mac). Here you can also change the “Zoom Relation” which means how close the Overview Map matches the zoom level of your current view (default is infinity, a smaller value has the zoom level more closely match your view). The smaller-value zoom relation can be handy if you need to compare your view to a slightly larger zoom level.


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. What projection is used for the Overview Map?
    Greenland looks almost as large as South America, although in fact South America is over 8 times as large as Greenland.
    Is it really that hard to find a suitable equal-area projection?

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