Using the control menu


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Using the control menu

Animals herding around a watering hole in the desert

What's coming up?

The control menu puts Google Earth's powerful features at your fingertips.

In this activity, we’ll get to know each of the options and how they can help you make the most of Google Earth.

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An illustration on where to find the Google Earth controls

Find the control menu

Google Earth has a lot to offer, and you can access extra features via the control menu.

The control menu appears down the left side of the screen as a row of seven icons. See if you can find it on your version of Google Earth.

Find the map controls

On the bottom right of the screen are the map controls. You can learn about what these do in our Exploring Google Earth course.

For now, however, we are going to concentrate on the control menu we spoke of in the last slide.

An illustration on where to find the Google Earth map controls
An overview of the icons on the control menu for Google Earth

Explore the control menu

Look down the Control Menu on the left hand side of the screen, and you'll find seven main features:

  • List
  • Search
  • Voyager
  • Die
  • Projects
  • Map Style
  • Measure distance and area

We'll go through them one by one to explain how they can each help you get more from Google Earth.


Clicking the List icon displays a range of options for controlling your Google Earth experience, adding information to maps, as well as settings options for how Google Earth operates.

The Search, Voyager, Projects and Map Style settings, which are always visible from the main control menu, are available here too.

The list menu icon on Google Earth - it looks a bit like a hamburger with 3 horizontal lines stacked on top of each other
The search menu icon on Google Earth - it looks like a magnifying glass


Search is the easiest way to find things on Google Earth. Enter an exact street address or a locality, and it will whisk you there.

Normally, Google Earth glides you to your destination smoothly over several seconds. But if you prefer, you can Turn off fly animation in Settings to snap to your new location.

An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

Predictive search anticipates what you're typing, and it is location-aware.

So, if you search for Tony's Pizza when you're looking at a map of Sydney, you'll get a different result than if you were looking at a map of Melbourne.


Clicking the ship’s wheel (or helm) icon from the main control menu presents a range of Voyager multimedia guided tours.

Whatever your interests, Voyager opens up a world of adventure, we'll explore it further in the Take a virtual trip activity later in this course.

The Google Voyager icon on Google Earth - it looks like a ship's wheel
The Die icon on Google Earth - it looks like a dice

The Die

The Die icon is like a taking mystery flight because you don’t know where you’ll end up! In fact, Google calls it I’m feeling lucky, because it transports you to random locations.

See how many times you have to click the icon before it chooses somewhere you've actually been!


The Projects menu lets you do a range of things, from saving locations in Google Earth, just like bookmarks, to building a slideshow incorporating various views of different places. You can even include your own photos and share your projects with other people.

The Projects icon on Google Earth - it's where you click to save your favourite locations and other information
A close up of the Map Style icon on Google Earth

Map Style

You can use this to change how your map looks. Do you want labels on the streets and cities, or do you want a clean look? We'll look at Map Styles more closely in the Add Map Styles and Photos activity later in this course.


How far is it from your home to the local shops? How far is it from New York to London? With this menu item you can easily measure the distance between places, and also the area of various spaces. Just click on the icon, then click on the places you want to measure.

A close up of the Google Earth Measure icon
An illustration of the Google Earth control menu open at the Search panel


You have completed the Using the control menu activity. You’ve learned that the control menu icons are always visible down the left side of the screen, giving you easy access to features like Search, Projects, Measure and Voyager.

Next up, the Add Map Styles and Photos activity will help you get a lot more useful information from Google Earth.