Improvements to search in Google Earth

Thank you to GEB reader Paul, for alerting us to a recent change made to the way search results are displayed in Google Earth. The changes to the search are not a change in the code of the Google Earth client, but rather a change in the styling of the results which come from the search engine. We recently explained that searches in Google Earth are based on the same database that is used for Google Maps, and thus the results are much more up to date than the mapping data found in Google Earth.

Location search
If you search for a location such as a city or country, typically a single result is returned with just the location name and marker.

Business search
A more general search may return lots of results, which are displayed both in an indexed list as well as points or markers on the map. If the results are businesses, then links to their web page (blue globe) or Google plus page (blue marker) are shown.

We recommend you change the Google Earth settings to open web pages in an external browser, as its internal browser is somewhat outdated and may not render all modern websites properly.

External browser setting

Also note that searches in Google Earth are location sensitive and take into account what you are looking at in the view window when you perform a search.

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.

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. Is there any way to report how much they have broken in google earth as a result of this change?

    For example lets say I want to go from Tokyo Station to Fukushima Station. I click from here and to here on the respective stations. This then enters: “from:35.681382, 139.766084 (東京) to:37.75442, 140.458533 (福島)” in the search box. However the program returns no results. Instead I must manually edit it to say: “from:(東京) to:(福島)” in order to get any results and then it gets worse…

    Once you have transit results there used to be a way to then view the route in google maps, thus allowing you to change the date and time along with other options such as being able to see the cost for each connection. Now this option is gone and there does not appear to be a way to get the directions into google maps.

    As a result directions and planning that previously took a few seconds now take a few min and when trying to make complex route decisions in google earth now take hours to preform rather than 5min.

    Here is an even worse example where directions then become simply impossible for users(please note I am selecting gogle earth default transit placemark and their placemark for the castle):
    “from:35.170694, 136.881637 (名古屋) to:35.18559, 136.89906 (名古屋城)”

    This should tell me how to get from Nagoya Station to Nagoya Castle. However for those that can read Japanese you will see that changing the above to: “from:(名古屋) to: (名古屋城)” will really screw you b/c Nagoya Station is being labeled just Nagoya as it is missing 駅. Therefore to get directions you will now need to edit it again to say: “from:(名古屋駅) to: (名古屋城)”

    The issue in this case appears that the maps are using the placmarks hover txt which for that station incorrectly reads 名古屋 instead of 名古屋駅. However, if you click the placemark it is labeled correctly as Nagoya Station (名古屋駅).

    So now in order to use google earth you need to be proficient in reading foreign languages and manually edit every location you want. Also I suppose if you want to go to or from a place with a non unique name you are in trouble.

    I really hope that google corrects these changes quickly or reverts or makes it an option to revert back to the old interface. I feel bad for those who use google earth overseas for their travel who have been left out in the cold due to these changes which were clearly not tested.

    • Cam’t see any problems with a straightforward address to address ‘get directions’ in the UK. Comprehensive directions are given for four modes – drive, public transit, cycle, walk – with route displayed on GE as blue line. In fact, the route maps are now fully annotated with place marked sat nav type instructions.

      Seems at least as good as before.

  2. says

    Google Earth is no longer able to find China, Russia, or just about any country I enter into the search.

    • Timothy Whitehead says

      China and Russia work for me. Do you perhaps have a non-English version of Google Earth? Which country are you in? Do major cities such as Beijing work?

  3. The issue is that getting directions for anything other than entering both addresses manually is broken. There is no value in placemarks if you can not lick them to get directions. Lets say I want to go from Waterloo to Stratford International. I click the from here and to here and get: “from:51.5033, -0.11475 (Waterloo) to:51.5448284, -0.0087498 (Stratford International)” but it does not work.

    Also b/c Waterloo is not a unique name editing it to “from:Waterloo to:Stratford International” tries to route you from Waterloo Indiana USA which is clearly what I want when I am looking at a map of England…

    You can see more info about the problem here:!msg/maps/vXhGXKXHL1M/mMvc23OvsxEJ

    • Sorry, you’ve lost me. It takes seconds to enter these station names, and there is an option of getting directions via a place mark in the map in a Google+ window. But viewing central London in this case whilst the search is being made may increase the chance that addresses are unique.

      • I am assuming you did not check the link, this is a problem that many users are reporting that has been accepted by Google. (hopefully a fix this week).

        As for the Google+ window I assume you are referring to how for “some” locations if you click on them it will give you a street address. Unfortunately, it never lists addresses for train stops and many other things will randomly have or not have an address.

        You are correct though that if you enter in a more unique variant of the name such as Waterloo station for example and manually enter your search.

        However, it is still impossible to put down a placemark and get directions to or from it as you lack a street address. Given that custom placmarks are one of the major reasons for using Google Earth this is a major problem.

        As for the time it takes I was not referring to the editing time but the time it takes to plan a route on a particular date and time from google earth. The solution now is simply not to use google earth and when the solution to a problem with a product is simply not to use it that indicates a major problem.

        • Thank you for your further explanation, but although the linked forum discussion showed that a number of GE users had an issue it did not really explain the nature of the issue in simple terms. So is the issue not being able to get directions relating to a place mark put down, say in open country, where there is no usable address or place name recognised in the Google search process, or possibly not being able to use a list of pre-stored place marks?

          I could see this as a serious inconvenience, hopefully short term, for certain users, but I doubt Google would see custom place marks as a major use of GE, and that searches that use addresses would account for the vast majority of income ultimately generated for the company through searches, but I would be happy to be corrected. It seems things are working fine for ‘regular’ searches.

          • Yes, also sorry if it was hard to understand. It must display differently based on cookies or something b/c the first post of that thread had 3 images and a simple explanation that shows the issue. (the rest of the thread is people posting workarounds and saying they have the issue as well)

            It turns out that a workaround using exact coordinates works by removing the name if then entered a particular way (according to a post in that thread).

            The issue is that a lot of users of both maps and earth want to be able to simply click 2 places on the map and get directions between them without needing to look up the exact coordinates or unique names or addresses and manually enter them into a directions lockup as if we are in the mid 90s. I mean what is next google only accepts input from punch cards lol.

  4. @ ZEROibis – the issue is clear now (unfortunately the images were blank when I browsed, perhaps sign in is needed), and, whilst obviously a retrograde step by design or error on Google’s part, I still suspect they would not see custom place marks and directions as a major use in the context of the corporate efforts towards ‘slickness’ and income generation. Hope the function is restored quickly,

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.