What can Google Earth do?


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What can Google Earth do?

Our beautiful planet taken from space

What's coming up?

In this activity, we’ll recap some of the main features of Google Earth, and see why it’s like an interactive encyclopaedia that helps you explore the entire world.

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What will we look at?

In this activity, we'll look at:

  • Finding places in Google Earth.
  • Checking out other people's travel photos and planning your own adventures.
  • Taking tours of the world's great destinations using the Voyager feature.
A bird's eye view of the Colosseum in Rome
A zoomed-in view of the Search Google Earth bar

Finding your way around

Searching Google Earth is easy – just click the magnifying glass icon on the left main control menu and type the country, city, landmark or address you want into the Search window.

To take a closer look at your location, click the + button on the map controls at the bottom right of the screen.

Let’s check

What does the + (plus symbol) button do on Google Earth? Read the answers below and click on the card you think is correct.

It allows you to add a location to view.

Click to flip

Sorry, no, this isn’t correct. Have another go.

It lets you zoom in closer on a location.

Click to flip

That’s correct! And the - (minus symbol) button lets you zoom out again.

It finds your current location.

Click to flip

Sorry, no, that’s not correct. The button that looks like a target is the one that will find your location.

Customise maps to show more or less

By default, Google Earth adds details like place names and international borders to maps to help you find your bearings.

You can add more detail, such as landmarks and public transport route numbers, or remove all detail so you see only the map. Click on the Map Style icon in the main menu to see these options.

An illustration of a map of Australia showing some of the state borders
An illustration highlighting the 3D button on Google Earth

Check out the 3D view

Rather than looking straight down from above, you can click the 3D icon to look out across the world and see the lay of the land.

This effect looks best in built-up areas, where Google often adds 3D models of large buildings and other major landmarks rather than just relying on aerial images.

See photos from people who've been there

Anyone can upload their photos to Google Earth, and you can see them by enabling Photos.

The photos for a location appear as a tiny round image that you can click on and are a handy way to explore places where Street View can't reach.

An illustration of Sydney Harbour Bridge showing additional photos uploaded by other visitors
St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City taken from Google Earth

Plan your big adventure

Before you head off on holidays, Google Earth offers a great way to research the sights. You can take yourself on a virtual tour and read information cards about destinations, including Wikipedia links to more information.

An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

Remember, if you need specific driving or public transport directions then you should look to Google Maps.

Explore the Voyager multimedia tours

Google regularly adds new guided tours to Google Earth, taking you to the furthest corners of the globe. The tours are divided into categories like Culture, Sport, and History, so it's easy to find something to grab your interest.

A glimpse of some of the content available on Google Voyager
An overhead shot of a town's streets and buildings


You’ve completed the What can Google Earth do? activity. You've learned that it's easy to find your way around Google Earth using the search and zoom features and to see photos people have uploaded.

Next, we’ll look more closely at the Google Earth's navigation in the Using the control menu activity.