AUS: 1300 630 488    NZ: 0800 1477 6287

Explore the world with Google Earth

We may not be able to travel internationally at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t visit anywhere we like on the planet! In this article, we’ll explain what Google Earth is, how to get started and some of the great things you can do with it.

What is Google Earth?

Google Earth is kind of like a digital version of an atlas – only it’s way more powerful than any atlas you ever owned.

With Google Earth, you can see the whole planet – right down to your own house.

It works on smartphones and tablets, but the best way to view it is on a larger screen such as that of a laptop or desktop computer. For that reason, we’ll focus on using it on a desktop computer in this article, though you should be able to apply a lot of the learnings to your smartphone or tablet if you’d like to use that instead.

Is Google Earth different to Google Maps?

If Google Earth is an atlas, Google Maps is a little more like a worldwide street directory. It’s a great tool for helping you find your way around, but it doesn’t offer the same level of discovery and exploration as Google Earth.

So, what exactly can I do on Google Earth?

With Google Earth, you can use your mouse to rotate the globe on your screen, and click anywhere to zoom down to street level.

You can see your house, or you can see famous landmarks such as Uluru, the Grand Canyon or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Even better, unlike an atlas, Google Earth is updated continuously so there are always new satellite images being added.

You can also walk the streets using Street View, which puts you right in the middle of the scene like you were really standing there (though remember, the pictures aren’t live – as exciting, or perhaps concerning, as that might be).

And you can get detailed information on many of the places you choose to visit.

How to get started with Google Earth

First things first: Google Earth is free. Simply open your browser and visit to begin. Remember, of course, that you do need to be connected to the internet for Google Earth to work.

Most browsers support Google Earth these days, but if you find that yours doesn’t, your best bet is to download Google Chrome. Google Earth was originally designed to work with Chrome (they’re made by the same company, after all), so you can guarantee it will work well.

Once you’ve opened the Google Earth page, click “Launch Earth” to begin.

And remember, this article is about using Google Earth on your desktop or laptop computer, but if you want to use it on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to download the Google Earth app from either the Apple or Android App Stores.

Learn the controls

The first thing you’ll see when you launch Google Earth is… well, the Earth. Play around with it a little – you can use your mouse or laptop’s trackpad to click and spin the globe, and double click a spot, or hold and drag, to zoom in on a location.

You can also use the buttons in the bottom-right corner to zoom in and out. Try zooming in as far as you can on a spot; you’ll reach a point when the image doesn’t get any clearer, and that’s when you know you can’t get any closer.

You can also click the 3D button in the bottom corner to see the world in 3D. The 3D effect makes the view seem even more realistic.

Use the search bar

The easiest place to begin – and the one thing that most people cannot help but try when they first use Google Earth – is with a search for your own home address.

Click the magnifying glass icon in the top left, and then type your address into the search bar that appears.

The globe will immediately begin spinning, and then zooming at speed, until your home is spotted from the sky.

You can also click and drag the little person icon in the bottom right to check out the Street View of your place.

Now that you know how to search for your home address, feel free to go ahead and search for anywhere in the world. Want to see the Taj Mahal? Type it in! Want to explore random streets in South Africa? Scroll there and then zoom in to your heart’s content.

With Google Earth the world is, quite literally, at your fingertips.