The Maps Gallery hosts an impressive collection of maps. Although the maps can be viewed directly in the Maps Gallery, many of them are much better viewed with Google Earth, especially for maps that have a lot of detail. There are also a few, such as the collection from the SETI Institute that we showed you, that give a much better global perspective when viewed in Google Earth.
There are two different ways to get Maps from the Maps Gallery into Google Earth. The first is by simply clicking the button near the bottom right corner of the map that says ‘View in Google Earth’. This will download a KML file named ‘map.kml’ and uses a special type of network link that shows the KML under the ‘Layers’ pane in Google Earth instead of the usual ‘Places’. It is impossible to save it in Google Earth, or export it to KML. We believe the purpose of this is a form of copy protection. The downside is that you cannot even save the link, so if you need to view the Map again at a later date, you need to reopen the downloaded ‘map.kml’ file.
The second way to get a map into Google Earth from the Maps Gallery, is by clicking the ‘Share’ button which looks like three dots with lines between them, and is found near the top right corner of the map when viewed in the gallery, or if you have opened the map to full screen it is in the map key near the top left. Select ‘Download KML’ from the drop down menu. This downloads a KML file that can be viewed in Google Earth and loads in the ‘Places’ pane and can be saved to ‘My Places’ or exported to KML.
However, not all maps show the ‘View in Google Earth’ button (such as this one ) and many maps have the ‘Download KML’ option greyed out (this includes the ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map). Also, using the second method, there is the option to download the KML for a particular layer, and in some cases such as this map the only layer available by this method is the map legend, which isn’t very useful. The same map shows all layers in Google Earth when viewed using the first method.
1. View in Google Earth button – loads the map in the ‘Layers’ pane and cannot be saved.
2. ‘Download KML’ link – loads the map in the ‘Places’ pane and it is saveable.
The map shown above can be found here.