Add Map Styles and Photos


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Add Map Styles and Photos

A globe of the earth with a laptop computer in the background

What's coming up?

There's a wealth of extra information buried in Google Earth, you just need to know where to look.

In this activity, we’ll look at how the Map Style and Photo options add a lot more detail to the maps to help you learn about the world

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Change how much information Google Earth shows

Google Earth is much more than satellite and aerial photos, it also shows a wealth of other information.

You can select what information appears by clicking the Map Style icon from the main control menu.

You can also access the Map Style feature by clicking on the List icon at the top of the main menu, and selecting it from the options that appear.

The Map Style icon highlighted in the main control menu on Google Earth
An illustration of the Map Style options panel in Google Earth

Choose what you can see

By default, Google Earth uses the Exploration view, with place names, major roads and international and state borders added, but you can fine-tune this.

The Everything option adds features, such as roads and landmarks, while the Clean view option removes all information.

Customise the view

The Customised option in Map Styles shows a huge list of things you can turn on and off. This includes Transit (public transport), traffic route numbers, Landmarks, Places of worship, parks and schools. If you click on the arrow next to any option, a list of more detailed options opens up for you to choose from.

All this information can clutter up your maps. If it gets too confusing, just switch back to the default Exploration view.

An illustration of the Customised menu options in Google Earth
An illustration on how other people's photos appear on Google Earth

See other people's travel photos

You can see photos that people have uploaded to Google Earth, including amazing 360-degree panoramas, by clicking the List icon in the main control menu and then enabling Photos.

Photos appear as circles on the map, with a tiny preview of the images taken at that location – just click to scroll through them. Press the escape key on your computer's keyboard to close the photos.

An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip: Speed things up

Enabling Photos can clog up the map and slow down Google Earth, especially if you're using a slow computer on a slow broadband connection.

For this reason, it's best to switch off Photos when you're not using them.

The Manhattan skyline taken from the north and showing the Empire States Building


You’ve completed the Add Map Styles and Photos activity.

You've learned how to customise the kinds of information added to maps, as well as see photos that Google Earth users from around the world have uploaded.

Next up, time to become an armchair tourist, in the Take a virtual trip! activity