Making desktop backgrounds with Google Earth

When browsing some of the latest imagery in the recent imagery update we came across some beautiful images of islands of the Tonga archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean and we thought of using them as desktop backgrounds. This is also how we found the image of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai for yesterday’s post.

The standard version of Google Earth only allows you to save or print images of what is seen on screen. Although it is possible to make Google Earth run full screen (F11) and can hide almost all the menus, it isn’t really satisfactory for capturing a full screen-resolution image. However, Google Earth Pro is free and allows you to save images up to a resolution of 4800 x 2866. Just go to File->Save->Save Image or look for the ‘Save Image’ button on the tool bar. It brings up a small tool bar where you can specify the resolution and other options. For a desktop background you probably want to turn off all the extras (title, legend, compass etc).

Note that this will not result in imagery of higher resolution than what can be seen in Google Earth.

Here are a few backgrounds we created for ourselves, but we highly recommend having a look at various tropical islands around the world to find your own favourite locations.

High resolution versions: 1920×1080, 3840×2160

High resolution versions: 1920×1080, 3840×2160

High resolution versions: 1920×1080, 3840×2160

If you love satellite imagery then we certainly recommend Google’s ‘Earth View’ Chrome extension. It also allows you to easily save any image you like as a desktop background (see the extensions menu at the top left). You can also get a similar extension by Planet Labs featuring their imagery.

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. Mark kelly says:

    Where you post the list of language selections on google earth and probably your other sites you have English UK or English US . If you are going to give a option of English US then why not also English Australia and English New Zealand and English Canada.
    You need to know there is only ONE ENGLISH, it is UK. That’s it just one nothing more. USA did not invent English. ,Englend did! The rest of the earths English speaking inhabitants adopted English from England. What you are implying by using the selection (English US) is just plain false and misleading to all that don’t know better .
    Please think about making the correction for the education of all English speaking.

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