Panoramio photos not showing in Google Earth

[UPDATE 7-December-2016: The Panoramio Photos Layer is working again. A temporary one day issue.]

Thank you to GEB readers Frank, Manuel, Jim and Gabriel for letting us know that the Panoramio photos are not displaying in Google Earth. The layer and placeholder icons are there but when you click on them the images do not display.

In October Google did announce that it was shutting down Panoramio in favour of Google Street View. The announcement said that as of November 4th, 2016, new signups and uploads would be stopped. However, they indicated that users had until November, 2017 to download their photos and optionally transfer them to Street View. We assumed that this meant that they would keep the API that Google Earth uses running until November 2017. It would seem that that may not be the case.

If Google has shut down the Panoramio API it would be a great pity, as many parts of the world have almost no Street View photos whereas, Panoramio has near global coverage. We have recently been experimenting with capturing photos for Street View and the process is not well thought out and it seems to be impossible to put the captured photos in the correct place when Street View misplaces them. It makes logical sense for Google to only have one 360 degree photo service but they really need to improve the Street View offering as far as user contributions are concerned before completely shutting down Panoramio.

The loss of Panoramio photos in Google Earth is only one of several similar changes. In October two of the Google Earth weather layers were dropped. Recently we also noticed that the Earthquake layer is not updating correctly.

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. I agree and would find it a great pity if Panoramio Pictures are not visible any more from now. I also heavily use the combination of GE and Panoramio and built on the date Nov 2017.
    Hope that it is only a temporary error.
    Is anyone from Google reading this blog, can they comment on it please?

    my questions to Google
    – are Panoramio Pictures in GE already switched off for good now or will they be online – if yes until when.
    – will there be a new photo layer for GE, what are the plans

  2. What a horrible mistake.

    I’ve always hated the bloat, misplaced photos, and simple bad photos that have always been a part of Panoramio on Google Earth, but it provided an essential service of showing how things appear in person.

    Street view is no substitute, as coverage isn’t good and most things I look for aren’t on a street…

    The value of Panoramio far outweighed the minor annoyances that accompanied it, and Google has no real alternative to replace it. Sad day.

  3. I discovered that images were not showing for the first time yesterday, but this is the first site I have found where the issue is discussed. I’ve been using Google Earth for many years, and until now had never been aware of the mechanism by which user contributed images were displayed. They have always just been there.

    I find it incredible that Google should think it reasonable to simply dump the work that millions(?) of users have put into creating this valuable resource without investing any effort in providing an automatic mechanism for transferring the images to a new home.

    What staggering arrogance!

    • Dieter Goebel says

      It is a huge mistake for google earth ,that the photos cannot be open any longer. The value of google earth for countries in underdevoleped countries in Africa and Asia is equal zero , as street views like in USA will never be made there ,as it brings no profit for google.;But these countries have valuable countryside and there are shown in the photos of panoramoi,which cannot be open any longer

      Great parts of the world have lost their face.

      Dieter Goebel Germany

  4. is there a alternative for google Earth. Maybe Google needs a break from being considered the best

  5. Panaramio pictures are a great investigative tool. There are so many places where street view is unavailable! I was trying to recreate the news-checking techniques in the video below but was stalled when it came to looking at the pictures. I wonder how many future searches will be hindered? It sure would be nice to still be able to load pictures onto Google Maps or Earth in some easy way.

    • Kevin Killion says

      Haha, showing a cartoon Walter Cronkite with a voiceover of “trusted newscaster” … that’s a great illustration of precisely WHY it was easy to think you understood the news when you had the severe bottleneck filter of information only flowing through limited, biased sources.

  6. You can’t replace great landscape photography in panoramio by an idiot driving a car for streetview. I guess this is google 2.0 – the evil google.

  7. I too noticed this 24 hours ago.
    I so agree so much with Timothy & all the posters of comments in response to the post.
    I rely on the combination of Streetview, Google imagery & Panoramio.
    I would like for Google to tell me exactly how a poster of Panoramio images (images which now go back many years & is now a valuable resource of historical imagery), can repost these images to Google+ if they are now deceased. Answer they can’t & if Google don’t have an automated process to transfer these valuable images they will simply be lost & that’s a huge shame. In my humble opinion Google simply have not thought this through sufficiently. Is anyone at Google listening?

    Anyone know of an email address I can send the above specific complaint to Google?


    • Bernd Ruchser says

      22:10 all panoramio pics are back again. don´t know why.

    • They’ve done the same with Microsoft, the now almost defunct Windows XP,(Thousands upon Thousands still use it!) And push forward with the useless Windows 8, 8.1 and finally 10. Why when everyone gets used to a particular System it’s changed, they never check anything through.The latest Word has become too complex, there’s too much on a particular Link,finding one’s way around,is like finding your way around a “MAZE”!

  8. This is really sad. I use those photos to plan trips in backcountry and wilderness, where there are no street views (or streets).

  9. This is terrible.

    Panoramio is much more than just a ‘street view’. So many fantastic scenes from far away from any ‘street’. I can’t find any substitute or application to match the experience of google earth with user photos. Years of exploring and photo posting to share with the world…all gone.

    Sad day they offer suitable substitute to boot. Shame on Google

  10. PJ Merrill says

    I noticed it yesterday as well. I love to “travel” via Google Earth and the images, plus I very much enjoy the images which were taken in the very remote places (where Streetview will never go). I hope Google Earth can at least restore the images that were already in place.

  11. What a tremendous loss. Many a vacation of mine was planned using the pictures posted by others in Panoramio over the years, and as recently as two months ago. It was as fun planning the trips as it was to take them. Streetview isn’t a replacement for Panoramio and simply doesn’t have pictures of most the off grid places I look to visit on GE. Must all good things must come to an end? Shame, but this almost makes GE not worth visiting at all now…

    Wonder if server costs and their maintenance drove the decision to remove these pictures and the need for storage?

    I agree with Ewan in that if we could send a e-mail complaint to GE, I would voice my concern.

    I did this years ago after GE removed the golf course layer…and then it returned…though likely not because of my e-mail alone! I don’t remember where I lodged the complaint though.

  12. For me, the whole point of Google Earth was the photos. It was a way to explore places we were going, and places we would never see ourselves. It made the world smaller in a unique and special way. Panoramio and the links to Earth do not belong to Google Earth alone. We, the users, built this.

    To destroy what so many have built is irresponsible, cruel and destructive.


  13. i like to look @ photos while researching my travels to see if the place would be of interest to me to investigate further & visit in due course. street view doesn’t apply to the best scenes the world can offer. google earth should never have stopped the panoramio application. huge mistake…huge

  14. Karsten Ehlers says

    At the Moment (7. Dec) panoramio Pictures in Google Earth show again.

  15. UPDATE

    I checked again at 6:37pm and photos appear to be back up and running for now.

  16. I’ve also been noticing this the last few days, and did catch the message that they would be discontinuing Panoramio some weeks ago. I’m on GE right now and as of 7:12pm CST they are not displaying. Panoramio photos have always been about the biggest/most important feature to me since only so much can be gleaned about a place by viewing satellite photos and looking at street views. I always thought of Panoramio photos as a way to virtually travel, now suddenly GE seems lifeless and the only thing similar is the ‘tour guide’ which is more akin to watch pre-programmed TV. Or perhaps more accurately, having someone dictate where you will vacation.

    I would be interested in signing a petition to bring it back (or similar alternative – automated transferring, as some here say) at some point if one should spring up. They say users will have the option of transferring their photos to whatever service, but how many people are going to do that? I’d be shocked if it were anywhere *remotely* close to 10%. It’s like burning down a library with all the books inside because it’s decided there’s no more room in the budget for building maintenance/property tax or whatever.

    What a shame! Tsk-tsk…

  17. ben reuter says

    maybe some mercy guesture…google turns into a global dealer without serious competion…
    Bing stopped updating its satellite images. So we have to swallow every move of google.
    They ignore vital areas (e.g. Syria) in updates and slowly turn down service (e.g. the marking of updating areas). One day we are left with google maps….

  18. I, like others, see that the Panoramio layer is functioning again. But for how long, and how can this unique ‘gallery’ be saved for open access on-line?

    It seems, however, that the KML of ALL Panoramio photos – far too many in popular places but very helpful in remoter places, and the obvious base of any future access to the ‘gallery – no longer opens through previously published links.

    In support of the views expressed by other GEB readers I repeat my comments first made in October

    “A highly retrograde move. The layer did need significant editing and thinning where icons cluster like a pox in popular tourist areas, but there will be a huge loss of information in places away from streets – have a look for example at the photos along national walking trails or of tens of thousands of beautiful historic buildings – and obviously as the post says in a highly discriminatory way where there is no Street View, say virtually the whole of Africa.

    Panoramio photos also open to many stunning individual photographers’ galleries, often themed or covering rarely visited parts of Earth. It would be good to have news of whether these collections would still be accessible through maps.

    One can only conclude that the layer is going because the lack of direct monetisation is being given higher priority than the overall quality and ultimate commercial value of the product.”

    Nothing has really changed.

  19. I agree with all that was said in the comments. (I also just noticed that Panormaio is working again on GE and when you click on the photo is does take you to its Panoramio webpage).

    I have spent the past year looking at different places within my home country, Libya, and I cannot emphasis enough how valuable Panoramio has been. I could see places and identify them as I remember them from the ground and this is something that, in my opinion, Street View could never achieve. Along, with the historical satellite imagery, Panoramio images has been the only real reason I use Google Earth over the preferred web-accessible Google Maps.

    Has anyone read/heard anything from Google about what (if anything) they will possibly do with the huge inventory of Panoramio images they have compiled? Some sort of web-access to these images would be highly beneficial, but as I understand from the comments that that would have to be done through the users themselves (which is something I don’t imagine the majority of users are aware of and/or are willing to do).

    • Timothy Whitehead says

      I believe that ownership of the images remains with the contributors so Google cannot automatically move them to Street View as I am sure they would wish to do. It is unfortunately up to the owners to do the transfer, and many owners are no longer active or have lost access to their accounts etc or are unwilling to move to Street View. We will have to wait and see, but we will almost certainly loose a large proportion of the images.

      • When Google decided to end GE and send our photos to Maps and/or Google Photos I decided it was time for me to pull the plug on GE. I don’t want my photos on Maps, G Photos, or G+. Therefore, I deleted my Panoramio account which automatically delted the 275 photos I had placed. Photos were taken in the back country of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nepal, as well as many other places across the earth. Very few of my photos were taken near a road so Street View cannot capture what I captured. The locations where I had my photos are still shown on GE as the little blue square but when an attempt is made to open them, the frame is blank and the author’s name (mine) is now missing. That is just as I had wanted. I think eventually GE will even eliminate the blue square for missing photos.

        Google really messed up by killing Panoramio. I’m sure it was a financial decision because we were all using it for free. Google probably spent a lot of $$ each year to keep it going and couldn’t recoup their losses.

  20. OK guys. I am glad in a way that those photos disappeared for a few days, as it clearly got a whole bunch of like minded people together on this page! I am absolutely shattered at the idea of Panoramio photos no longer being available on GE. I, like many of you, use the satellite imagery, 3D terrain AND most importantly the wealth of user submitted geo-referenced imagery…to plan trips, explore the globe and bring the globe to life with my kids, and even for work to inspect sites before I go out or even to de-necessitate the need to go out!!!

    So, instead of just submitting another complaint about Google taking over a service and running it into the ground….. I want to ask this group WHAT can we do to protect it’s extinction! Here some simplistic suggestions, happy to be corrected, embellished, shot down in flames or applauded, i don;t mind.. but the temporary loss of those images on GE over the past few days has me absolutely determined to find SOME WAY or SOME ONE to help solve this problem!

    * find funds (even crowd source, philanthropic??) to, at a bare minimum, ARCHIVE the entire panoramio database online (even in it’s current form without new user input, or the community aspect) so that the images can remain alive for generations to come, and even maintain the link to Google Earth (my main fear of loss!)

    * have someone convince the ghosts at google to hand over the panoramio service to open source management?? What have they got to lose, they bought it, ran it into the ground and are about to dump it (at a complete loss?????) . No idea fo the emchanics behind this idea but it makes sense to me at least!

    * Find another organisation with a kind heart (not for profit!??)to BUY it from Google before it ends up on the scrap heap

    * Convince Google to maintain the archive themselves>?>??

    * Find another service that has the free-range georeferencing facility to replace panoramio photos layer on Google Earth (and even better, have that service transfer the existing database of images across lol)

    Man, i dunno… i just really, really, really dread the idea of this being lost to time. I know how much people love it, how much of a community there was on panoramio (i’ve got friends all over the world, some i even visit!), how much time people have invested in collating the imagery etc. My name even precedes me in wilderness circles in my own part of the world.. i had someone recently say… oh you’re ‘so and so’ who posts all those photos of places I’d like to go.

    I even jsut tweeted Eduardo Manchón to step up again, even another petition? i don;t know! Couldn;t find a link for Joaquín Cuenca 🙁 Ahhh so sad.

    GE with panoramio has been my favourite hobby for a decade now. I really want to find some way to keep it alive! So,…. over to all of you people, wiser, smarter and richer than me… HELP! lol

    • It’s good to read proactive thoughts on keeping the whole Panoramio archive together and accessible. Let’s hope this gains momentum.

      However, it may be that the greatest challenge would be to gain permission from owners to ‘migrate’ the photographs as a whole.

      In discussion on the Google Maps Help Forum in 2014 the following statements appear

      “The photos in Panaramio are owned by the people who take them, not Google. They have individual copyrights.”

      “To use, copy, print, or download a photo from Panoramio, you must get explicit permission from the photographer. To contact a photographer to ask for permission, add a comment to the photo or use the Private messaging feature. The owner of the photo will receive an email with your comment and can contact you back.”

      So a top priority would be to devise an acceptable systematic approach to copying as much of the archive as possible to a new home to complement the photo by photo approach.

      • Well, I’m not really sure about the whole ‘downloading each image needing the permission of the owner’ thing since all the pictures that can be accessed through Panoramio were always publicly viewable and downloadable. They still are. They never deployed download blocking measures either. The way I remember the creative commons licenses, essentially as long as all images are used for noncommercial and entirely private viewing, downloading them is somewhat of a grey area. I know they say you “must” get permission, but if you don’t, what are the original owners going to do? Sue you for liking there picture so much? I doubt they would win since the argument would be that the pictures are readily available to download, which they are, and openly so with the knowledge of the uploader as well. For Google to move them elsewhere, though, would probably open them to liability, and in light of how just about every Panoramio user I’ve encountered, including myself with my small contribution of about 125 pictures and one or two million views, feels about this move by Google, trying to stay away from grey areas may be wise. Technically they could have just merged Panoramio with Photos, legally, and then there would be no “migration” to make. They can change their format and services in such a scenario without having to ask anyone. Facebook is an example of that kind of thing as it changes features fairly often without anyone’s permission, and Google’s own Gmail has also changed quite a bit over the years. We are all angry though, and some may look for reasons to stick a thorn in Google’s side for doing this, so making everyone mad must have seemed like a good option (go figure).

        As far as backing up Panoramio, this is actually fairly easy to do as long as you have enough storage space and a fast enough connection. I’m currently in the process of downloading all the originals, and my reason and justification for doing this is that the imagery in Panoramio is an academically valuable addition to Google Earth. The website Mapsights is supposed to be doing something pretty similar, having downloaded about thirty million of the nearly 100 million undeleted pictures still on Panoramio along with the original metadata and location information. Unfortunately, there are still millions more for which that data is no longer available, or easily available. Additionally, at this time, I don’t believe there are any plans to make those photos available in Google Earth again through plugins once Panoramio is completely gone.

        In case you’re wondering how to get the photos, they are nearly all located at*.jpg
        Then its just a matter of downloading them all. The first one that can be found is 15.jpg and the last is 134628799.jpg many of the pictures are gone though, so not every picture in that whole range can be downloaded. If you have a downloader that accepts wildcards in the links, then downloading the pictures should be pretty easy. As it is, the programs I have don’t like wildcards for some reason, so I have to generate all the links in excel then export them to a text file for my downloader to use. Easier methods exist, and I’ll use them when I return home and can stop using my mac…
        In any case, I’m estimating that around 97 million pictures remain based on statistics from last October, and the storage necessary to store those pictures is around 40 TB. Using Hard Drives I’m estimating it will cost me about 800-1000 dollars to completely back up what remains of Panoramio’s pictures, sans location information. Not really all that much at all…
        I’ve currently retrieved about 23k pictures since yesterday, which means I’m only about 0.02% of the way, so I’ll see how things go. My mac’s puny hard-drive is already jammed, though it was already close to it, so I’ll have to wait until I have more storage, my pc back at school, and my University’s computer labs to get serious.
        It seems like it should be possible to retrieve location information for the pictures that made it to Google Earth, since those pictures are still where they were placed. As for the rest though, the location information is lost.
        I’m also worried that Google is moving towards getting rid of Google Earth as well – Google clearly isn’t averse to majorly unpopular decisions. The reason I’m thinking this way is that without Panoramio, Google Earth’s usefulness is undermined, and from the same narrow minded, less useful, and limited viewpoint of StreetView and Photos that Google is moving towards, Google Earth could be seen as redundant by Google. I know it is really far more powerful and useful than Maps, but if Google thinks Photos and StreetView are viable substitutes for the geotagged pictures of Panoramio with Google Earth, then their estimation of the value of Google Earth in contrast to Maps may be equally flawed. With the API going away, and now Panoramio, I am concerned about where Google is heading with Earth.

        Once the pictures are backed up, I may try to see if anyone is interested in creating some process by which to make them all public and available, and maybe in Google Earth again. Rebuilding the community and returning all the pictures in Google Earth to Google Earth through a plugin system would be my priorities in such a case.

        If I get a whole bunch of negative feedback about all this, then I may change my mind about doing this, but how many of you would seriously be against trying to preserve Panoramio’s pictures?

        In my opinion Panoramio is a monument and a valuable learning tool, and deleting or destroying its contents is basically a crime. I would hope that those of you who are angry with Google will refrain from deleting your pictures or your accounts, as it would be nice to try to salvage your efforts.

  21. I’m sorry to chime in yet again but…….. my goodness. I’m planning my next trip into a remote area of SE Asia and the photo’s are JUST INDISPENSABLE. I get lead into the most incredible off the beaten path places based on photos taken by local ethnic villagers that there is NO way in the world ANYONE would find any other way. It is a portal, an open ticket, an invitation into the heartland of the remote corners of the world. Can someone PLEASE tell me we can at LEAST archive the current load of panoramio photos to remain linked to Google Earth! Pretty please with sugar on top!

  22. More arrogant jackassery from Google.

    In the past I have attempted to contact Google Earth staff regarding this or that issue. It is easier to have a conversation with the dictators in North Korea than to talk with anyone at Google.

    • Sprayandpay says

      See my comment below. Google is a brainless corporation with nobody in charge. If you see how they work it’s bunch of young adults/teens wanting to have fun and party.

  23. Peter Landis says

    I have just tried looking at photos I placed on Google Earth and when I clicked on the photo it says “400. That is an error. Your client has issued a malformed or illegal request. That’s all we know”. I placed photos of historical significance on Google Earth so others can find them because most are off the beaten track and some are no longer there due to development of roads, sub division and the like. I had photos of timber bridges built during the Second World War some of which have burnt down recently and there is almost no evidence that they ever existed now. I agree with all the comments on this page and implore Google to reinstate the photos for the world to see. A lot of the photos I placed on Google Earth are not near the road and aren’t/wouldn’t be picked up with street view besides the fact that a lot of roads where I have taken the photos have not nor probably ever will be street viewed.

  24. They say you can link a Google account and see your Panoramio pics but all mine says is an account is already linked, and then doesn’t allow me to do anything! I would just like to be able to see the pics again when clicked on instead of a blank white square! It looks like if you link a Google account you will be able to see those pics again. This is just stupid to cancel them all?

  25. Hello, I don’t know what I did but as soon as I SIGN-ED IN to Google Earth, all the pictures were available to me, including pics I posted there myself. I am not sure if Panoramio pics were sent over or not? I was never able to link my account, but it did say that account was already there. Not sure how but I hope it will stay this way..
    So keep trying guys! I love that so many people post pics in their travels around the world.

  26. Elias Ahlstedt says

    Hello! I just tried Google Earth for the first time in a long time since the panoramio shutdown…and what the heck, all pictures ar showing!! Why??

  27. Download older version from this website.

  28. Sprayandpay says

    Google is a *Duopoly* so why would they care if lots of the globe are left uncovered? They think they have completed their street view mission if you have notice it’s mostly *little* stuff here and there instead of big sweeping updates. I am surprised nobody remembers the *Bush* era when street view was the big deal. I guess most of you (Here) probably were in diapers still. :p

    Google in the *Bush* era were more of a public library but that failed due to lawsuits and crap. Now they are a facebook wannabe and a crappy one at that because they know they won’t get sued.

    Their last plan before they went social only was Google Books where you would be able to view pages and if you wanted to keep them pay only a couple dollars for what you want A la-carte type plan. The government sued Google for *copyright violations* which is bs to begin with but still Google lost and had to cancel it. The couple of dollars was a great idea where the book author would get a part of that revenue and if millions of people bought pages of books they would make lots of money.

    You would get only what you want if you are researching something for example you just buy what it is your looking for.

  29. Sprayandpay says

    Having the Panaramo photos gone is a big knife slash. Google is more *socialist* then capitalist as they have gone to the digital *rent* model and in the Communist Manifesto goals the first thing (besides weapons) being rid of is private property in favor of collectivism.

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.