Create a map or story in Google Earth Web

Tutorial Contents


  • No programming skills needed!
  • A Chrome browser (download here), logged into your Google Account. Don’t have one? Sign up here.

Let's Get Started!

The new creation tools in Google Earth allow you to easily create and share maps and stories about our world as an Earth project. You can create a project on any subject of your choosing, drawing placemarks, lines and shapes, adding rich contextual information to your places (text, links, images, videos, 3D views and Street View), and organizing your project into a narrative flow. You can share your project and collaborate with others. In presentation mode, viewers will fly from one place to the next following the narrative of your project, immersing them in the journey through Google Earth’s imagery and the custom content you provide.

This tutorial will introduce you to the new creation tools, and walk you through the process of creating and sharing your own Earth project. In order to complete this tutorial, you will need some text, photo and video content to add to your project. You can use your own content or you can use the sample content provided by our friends at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). Download the zip file below for the JGI images and extract the contents to a folder on your desktop. (249k Zip file)

If you choose to follow along with our Jane Goodall example, you may want to preview the finished sample Jane Goodall story before you start the tutorial.

Create a project and add places

  1. Open Google Earth on your computer:
  2. Click on the Projects Projects Icon icon in the left-hand navigation.
  3. If you’ve never created a Project before, you will click the Create button to create a new project. If you’ve created Earth projects before, then you’ll see a list of your projects and can click the New project button to create a new project. If you’re not already logged into your Google account, you’ll be prompted to do so.
  4. In the Project Details panel, click the Edit button Edit Icon to the right of Untitled Project to edit the project’s title and description. In this case, we’ve supplied some text below for you to copy and paste into these fields.

    Project Title: Jane Goodall's Journey to Gombe

    Jane Goodall is one of the best-known naturalists and conservationists in the world. Her work revolutionized our understanding of chimpanzees. She started the Jane Goodall Institute, which works for chimpanzee conservation across Africa.

    You’ll notice that your edits are automatically saved in Google Drive as you work.

  5. Now it’s time to add your first place to the map. There are two ways to add a place: dropping a placemark on the map or using Search to find a place. First, we’ll try adding a placemark to the map:

    Navigate around the globe until you see England. Now, click the Add placemark button in the creation toolbar at the bottom left-hand to activate the placemark tool.

    Placemark Tool

    Then click on the map, on England, to add the placemark.

    Tip: If you are not seeing country and other place names on the globe, try changing your Map Style. Click on the Google Earth menu button Menu Icon and select Map Style. Change your Map Style to Exploration so that you can see place names on the globe.

  6. In the Save to project box, click into the Title field and name your placemark “Jane’s Childhood”. The Project field should be set to “Jane Goodall’s Journey to Gombe”. Then click Save.

    Save to Project modal screenshot

    You should see your titled placemark appear in the list of features in the Project Details panel.

  7. Now let’s add a placemark using the second method: the Search tool. Click the Search icon in the left-hand navigation and search for “Nairobi National Museum”. Click on the first search result.

    Search Tool Screenshot

  8. On the Nairobi National Museum Knowledge Card at right, click the Add to project button.

    Nairobi National Museum card

    Click Save to add the second place to your project. You can close the Knowledge Card by clicking on the X in the top-right corner.

Adding a place from Street View

  1. Now let’s add a third and final place - this time a place in Street View! Use the Search tool again to fly to “Gombe National Park”, but close the Knowledge Card without adding it to the Project.
  2. Click on the Street View pegman in the bottom right corner. Blue lines and dots will appear wherever Street View imagery is available. Click on the blue line or dot to enter Street View on one of the forested hills in the park.
  3. Navigate through the Street View until you find the view you’d like to add to the place. Click the Capture this view button. "Capture This View" icon

    Street View Screenshot

  4. Title the placemark “Gombe National Park” and save it to your project.

Preview your finished project

  1. Click the Present button to see your project presented in a narrative format.

    Screenshot of "Jane Goodall’s Journey to Gombe" presented in a narrative format.

  2. Click next and previous buttons in the Table of Contents at bottom left to fly to each feature in your project. Click the back button Screenshot of Back Button - the arrow in the top left corner - to exit the presentation.

    • Tip: You can also drop a placemark on the globe by clicking the New feature button and select Add placemark.

    • Tip: To change the narrative order of your project, go to the Project Details panel and reorder the feature list by clicking and dragging the features into a new order.

Add rich information to your places

Adding photos, videos and text

  1. In the Project Details panel, hover over the first feature in your project and click the Edit button Image to open the Property Editor panel.

    Screenshot of the Property Editor

  2. Click on the Camera button.

    Screenshot of upload option

    Here you will see options to upload an image from your computer, choose a photo from your Google Photos albums, search the web for images, select an image by URL or add YouTube videos.

    Screenshot of the upload modal

    Using the search option, search for images of Bournemouth (Jane’s childhood home) and select one that you like. Click Select to see the image appear with a thumbnail view in the Property Editor panel.

    Screenshot of the search panel

  3. Click the camera button again to add a second photo. Search for and add a second photo. Adding multiple photos will create an image carousel in your Info box.

  4. Click the Description field and copy and paste the below text. This box has basic formatting options available, including bold, italics, underline, bullet lists, indentation, and hyperlinks. Text starting with “http..” will automatically be hyperlinked.

    Jane Goodall grew up in Bournemouth, England. Growing up, she was fascinated by all kinds of animals. When she was young, her favorite books were Dr. Dolittle and the Tarzan series. All she wanted to do was go to Africa, observe the incredible animals living there, and write books about them.

    Screenshot of the entered description for Bournemouth.

Previewing changes

Click the Preview presentation button to see your changes in presentation mode. Click the back button Back button to go back to the Property Editor panel and continue editing.

Screenshot of a preview of the presentation

Styling placemarks

  1. Scroll down the Property Editor panel and find the Placemark section. Click on the placemark size and change the size to Large.
  2. Click on the paint bucket icon to change the placemark color to yellow.
  3. Click on the placemark overflow menu Placemark overflow menu button. and select See more icons. Search the icons using the word “book” and select the book icon to represent Jane’s childhood.

    A screenshot of the placemark icons list.

    Tip: You can also add a custom icon (your own icon image file) by clicking the placemark overflow menu Placemark overflow menu button. and selecting Upload custom icon. Your icons must be in jpg or png file format and we recommend you use an image size of 128 x 128 pixels or 64 x 64 pixels (extremely large icons may impact the performance of the app).

Adding 3D views

Now that we know Jane grew up in Bournemouth, let’s make the view in Earth of Jane’s childhood more specific and immersive.

  1. Click on the placemark and drag the marker to Bournemouth (just west of Southampton along the southern coast of England). You may need to zoom and pan the map to get a better view of the town.
  2. Now, tilt and rotate the Earth’s surface using the compass or keyboard shortcuts until you find a view of Bournemouth that you like.
  3. Click the Capture this view button. This associates this 3D view with your location, and in presentation mode when you visit this location, the map will fly to this view.

    Screenshot of a 3D View of Bournemouth

Changing the Info box

You can change the style of the Info box that displays your content (text, photos, videos, etc).

  1. In the Property Editor panel click the drop down arrow on the right-side of the Info box and change the Info box from Small info box to Large info box.
  2. Click the Preview presentation button to see the changes. Decide which style you like best!

Preview of 3d view of Bournemouth with Jane's Childhood narrative

Add information to your second placemark

Now let’s add information to the other placemarks in your project.

  1. Click the back button Back button to go back to the Project Details panel.

  2. Hover over the second placemark and click the Edit button Edit button.

  3. Since we added this placemark from a Knowledge Card, it displays information from the Google Knowledge Graph (you can click the Preview presentation button to see the default information displayed). You could choose to keep the Knowledge Card information as is, or you can click “Replace” in the Property Editor panel to delete this information and then add your own content. In this case, let’s delete the Google information card content.

    Screenshot of Nairobi National Museum's Google information card.

  4. Keep the title “Nairobi National Museum” given by the Knowledge Graph, but add a new description to this placemark:

    In 1957, on a visit to Kenya, Jane met the famous anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey, and was hired as a secretary. Dr. Leakey was looking for someone to begin a study of chimpanzees to gain insight into human beings’ evolutionary past.

  5. Add an image by uploading the file titled jane_and_leakey.jpg (found in from your computer.

  6. Set a 3D view and click the Capture this view button.

    3D View of Nairobi National Museum

  7. Now edit your third and final placemark, Jane’s Peak. Add the following description:

    Jane Goodall arrived in Gombe in July of 1960. The area was located in what was then the British protectorate of Tanganyika. It was unheard of at the time for a young woman of 26 to travel into the forests of Africa alone. Armed only with her binoculars and a notebook, Jane would climb to Gombe’s highest peak in search of the chimpanzees. Over the years, Jane’s research led to many new discoveries, for example that chimpanzees know how to make and use tools, like humans do. Her research team has studied the behavior and followed the lives of the chimpanzees of Gombe for many decades now.

Adding videos

  1. While still in the Property Editor panel for the third placemark, click on the camera button and select YouTube. You may search for a YouTube video or you can access your public YouTube videos. If you have an unlisted YouTube you’d like to add, you can enter its URL in the search box to select it.

  2. Search for “jane goodall termite fishing” and select the first search result to add the video to the place.

    Search results for “jane goodall termite fishing”

Add lines and shapes to your project

Draw a line

  1. In the Project Details panel, click the New feature button and select Draw line or shape (Note: You can also click the Draw line or shape button in the creation toolbar at the bottom of your screen).

  2. On the map, click to add a series of points to draw the line. Each time you click, a new segment is added to your line. To finish your line, press enter. For the Jane Goodall project, you might draw the path that a boat would take to get from the nearest city (Kigoma) to the research station in Gombe.

  3. In the Add to project box, name your line and click Edit place.

    Screenshot of "Save to project" modal

  4. In the Width and color section, click on the width dropdown and change the line width to 8 pixels.

    Screenshot of line properties being edited.

  5. Click on the color palette to select red for your line color. Alternatively click Custom colors to create your own color swatch (Note: the hexadecimal code can be edited directly for exact web color matches).

  6. Zoom out to so that you can see the entire line and click Capture this view.

Tip: If you open the Property Editor panel for your line, you will be able to drag and move your line points to reshape your line, but you can’t delete or add segments.

Draw a shape

  1. Now, we’ll add a shape. In the Project Details panel, click the New feature button and select Draw line or shape.

  2. On the map, click to add a series of points to draw your shape. Each time you click, a new segment is added to the outline of your shape. To finish your shape, click once more on the first point that was added to close the shape. For the Jane Goodall project, you might draw a shape around the research station in Gombe.

    Screenshot of drawing a shape

  3. In the Add to Project box, name your shape and click Edit place.

  4. In the Outline width and color section, change the outline to red.

  5. In the Fill color section, change the fill color to yellow. You can also change the transparency using the drop down menu above the color palette.

  6. Adjust the view and click Capture this view.

    Screenshot of adjusted view for drawn shape.

Tip: You can reshape your polygon by clicking and dragging points, but you can’t delete segments. You can not click and drag your entire shape to a new location.

Add slides to your project

  1. In the Project Details panel, click the New feature button and select Fullscreen slide.

  2. Give the slide a title and description.

    Jane Goodall’s Journey to Gombe

    This is the story of Jane Goodall and her groundbreaking research with chimpanzees in Gombe National Park.

  3. Add an image by selecting the Camera button, then Upload and selecting the file entitled jane_peak.jpg (found in from your computer.

  4. Click the back button Back button to get to the Project Details panel.

  5. Click on the slide in the feature list and drag it to the top of the list of features.

  6. Now click the Present button to see how your new slide introduces your project.

    Screenshot of presented slides.

Tip: You can add slides to introduce your project, create chapters or sections, to add an ending message or credits and more.

Tip: If you choose to use an image as your slide background, your title and description will appear at the bottom lefthand of your slide. If you choose to use color as your slide background, your title and description will appear centered on your slide.

Share your project

You have many options when you want to share your Earth project with others. All projects are private by default — only you as the creator of the project can view or edit it. Below you’ll learn how to share the project, as well as how to collaborate on your project with others.

  1. Click the Share button on the Project Details panel.

    Screenshot of the Share button on the Project Details page.

  2. Click Get shareable link.

    Screenshot of the "Share with others" modal.

  3. Copy the link. You can now share this link with others so that they can view your project. Note: if you turn link sharing on, anyone who the link is shared with can view your project. If you'd like to control access permissions by Google account then you will likely want to use the method described directly below instead of turning link sharing on..

Tip: By default, people with the link will only be able to view your project. If you’d like, you can change the permissions so that anyone with the link can edit your project.

To share the project with specific people for viewing or collaboration

  1. Click the Share button on the Project Details panel.

  2. Under People, type in the email addresses of the people you’d like to share the map with directly, or choose from your contacts, and click Done. You can select whether the people you invite can edit the project or just view it. If a person does not have edit access, they will not see the Edit buttons in the Project Details panel and thus will not have access to the Property Editor for any features in the project.


More with Earth creation tools

Viewing your projects on web and mobile

You can find maps and stories you own and that have been shared with you by clicking on Projects in the navigation and looking through the list in the Projects panel. In the list, you’ll see maps and stories organized by the categories Pinned to Earth, KML files and Recent. You can also use the New project button to open projects and KML files that do not automatically appear in your Projects list. You can also open an Earth project directly from Google Drive, or from a shared link.

You can view your projects on a mobile device by opening the Google Earth app, clicking the menu in the upper lefthand corner and selecting Projects. You can not edit your projects on mobile at this time.

Pinning Projects

In order to ensure that a project always appears in your list of projects (even if you haven’t recently opened it), hover over the project in the Projects panel and click the pin icon. The project will now appear in the Pinned to Earth section on your device.,

Screenshot of a pinned project.

Tip: Pinned projects are always visible on the globe (unless you toggle off visibility using the Hide project button), even when you’re exploring a different project in presentation mode. You can use this feature to “mash up” several different projects and/or KML files together.

Importing your KML files

If you’ve already created a map using another mapping tool such as Google My Maps, Tour Builder or Earth Pro and saved it as a KML or KMZ file, you can import the KML or KMZ to view and edit in Google Earth (with some limitations):

Currently, you are able to import your KMLs only as local files. Local files are projects stored in your local browser storage on your computer. Local files are not stored in the Google Cloud. Local files cannot be shared with others and cannot be shared across devices. Local files are stored only in the local browser storage on the computer used to import the file.

Before you can import your KML files, you must turn on KML import in your Google Earth settings.

  1. Click the Google Earth menu button Menu button and select Settings.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings menu and toggle the setting for “Turn on KML file import” to on.

  3. Click Save.

Now you can import a KML file.

  1. Go to the Projects panel and click the New project button. Before you turned on KML file import, clicking this button only allowed you to create a new project or open a project from Google Drive. Now you will see options to create a KML file and to import a KML file from your computer or Google Drive.
  2. Select Import KML file from computer.
  3. Select the KML file from your computer and click Open.
  4. Your KML file will appear in your Projects panel. You can now explore and edit your KML.

Tip: You may experience some issues importing more complex KML files. For example, some advanced KML features currently don't work well or at all in the new Google Earth for web and mobile, including 3D models, tours, tracks, time-based KML, and photo overlays. Also, very large KML files or complex features (eg: polygons with many vertices) may not import or render well.

Tip: If you create or import KML files, you will not be able to convert them to Earth projects (stored in the Cloud), so you will not be able to share your KML files with others.

Exporting KML

To export a KML of your project, go to the Project Details panel and click the overflow menu Kebab menu, then select Export as KML file.

Discussion and Feedback

Have questions about this tutorial? Want to give us some feedback? Visit the Google Earth Help Community to discuss it with others.

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