10 things you didn’t know about Google Earth

PC Advisor recently published an article that discussed the “10 things you didn’t know about Google Maps and Google Earth” and I thought we’d take a look at it.  Some of these won’t be surprises for you, a Google Earth Blog reader, but it’s a list that would be fairly helpful to the typical computer user.

1 – Google Maps isn’t Google’s only mapping product.

You don’t say? 🙂

2 – Because it uses software on your own PC, Google Earth offers a more polished interface than Google Maps.

That could be argued either way.  I’d say that Maps is actually a bit more polished, but Earth offers many more features.

3 – No doubt you’ve used Google Maps Street View feature but did you know it works in 3D?

That’s indeed a fun tip. Press “3” or “T” to enable it (only in Google Maps).


4 – Google Earth includes a flight simulator so that you can view the Earth from a unique perspective.

The flight simulator can be quite a lot of fun.  Try it for yourself by activating it from the [Tools] –> [Enter Flight Simulator] option or check out this post for more.

5 – Thought that Google Maps was just for exploring the surface of the Earth?

Along with locations like the underground Akiyoshi-do caves in Japan, you can also visit other planets on Google Earth such as Mars.


6 – Google Maps can show up-to-the-minute traffic conditions.

Google Earth can as well, under [Layers] –> [More] –> [Traffic].  The Maps versions is great if you use it for GPS navigation, as the traffic data is factored into your estimated travel time.

7 – Don’t think of Google Maps as a universal panacea because there are some places you can’t see.

It’s relatively rare, but some places have their imagery blurred out, such as the example found here.


8 – If you’re an Android user you’ve probably discovered the Google Maps app but you might not have realized that it can be used offline too.

You can read details about the Android offline features, and don’t forget that Google Earth can be used offline as well.

9 – Using Google Maps doesn’t have to be a passive experience.

Google Maps has some great ways to save your points of interest and maps, and Google Earth has a very comprehensive set of layers to enhance your experience.  Over time, I think we’ll see those features begin to merge more and more, which would be a great thing.

10 – You can even create your own 3D models of buildings to view in Google Maps or Google Earth.

Even though they’re discontinuing the excellent Building Maker tool, you can still use SketchUp to create 3D models for use in Google Earth.

What do you think is missing from the list?

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. John Blaney says:

    On the 7th item, if you go to streetview you can see it. Why would they blot out the overhead view and not the streetview?

  2. Gary Alexander says:

    Sometimes yoyu can get around the pixelation by using Historical Imagery.
    Which works beautifully for the above example.

  3. John Ramsey says:

    #7 yes Noordwijk is ‘blurred’ out, But bizarrely you can still use Street view.
    The area must have some top secret roofs or something

  4. I like the look of the 3D option – but does it only work in ©hrome? (I’m on Firefox)

  5. 3D does not appear in Safari (5.1.9) either, neither for that matter does keyboard navigation for SV seem to work until you switch to full screen – grateful for any fixes.

  6. vincent says:

    That 3d feature blew my mind, Now I finally have a reason too buy one of those silly glasses 🙂

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