Using KML to change your field of view in Google Earth

Thank you to GEB reader Sebastien for letting us know that the Field of View can be adjusted in Google Earth by means of a tour. There are other techniques mentioned here such as a KML with transparent photo overlay, or changing an ini file, but the tour technique seems to be the easiest.

It is hard to describe the effects of changing the field of view, so instead we will just show you.

different fields of view
Google Earth with different fields of view.

In the above screen shots, the eye altitude varies from about 64,000 km with a field of view of 10°, to just 37 km with a field of view of 300°. Also, with the larger fields of view it is possible to zoom out a very long way from the earth, which has interesting effects on the background stars and galaxy. Using the 300° field of view and zooming in on an area with mountains or 3D buildings also has interesting effects.

300° field of view
3D buildings seen with a 300° field of view.

If you ever want to change the field of view yourself simply create a short tour in Google Earth, edit the KML and add <gx:horizFov>120</gx:horizFov> inside the <LookAt> tag, changing ‘120’ to your desired field of view.

Alternatively, just download one of the tours we have prepared for you, and if it doesn’t have your desired field of view, edit it in a text editor and adjust the number in the line with ‘gx:horizFov’. Here are the tours: 10°,30°,45°,60°,90°,120°,160°,200°,300°.

The field of view remains in effect until you either open a tour with another field of view, or restart Google Earth.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Sebastien says:

    That’s indeed where I’ve found this method. A user hopes for a integrated slider in the next Google Earth. Me too. I hope they’re already working it in. Anyway, the best viewing angle I find is 90°. I made a gif to show you how much better to navigate with it:

    By the way, I hope Google Team will allow again to look up with the spacenavigator. Usefull when visiting cities.

  2. Great post Tim! I came here to figure out a way to match a GE view with a sketchup view.

    I’m still figuring the discrepancies between the way these programs describe the viewing angle. GE sounds like it is using horizontal FOV, whereas sketchup is using just degrees, and they don’t seem to be matching up.

    I wish there was an easy way to incorporate the camera angles data into the way sketchup exports to GE.

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