The Layers feature in Google Earth provides a variety of data points of geographic interest that you can select to display over your viewing area. This includes points of interest (POIs) as well as map, road, terrain, and even building data. The full list of layers is available in the Layers panel:
Note: In the View field, you can choose to display all available layers (All Layers), key layers (Core) or just those that are currently displayed (Now Enabled).
You can use the layer data feature of Google Earth to:
Tip: You can display or hide country, state or province borders by checking or unchecking Borders in the Layers panel.
Layers Versus Places
Layers content is created by Google or its content partners. Google publishes the content you see in the Layers panel.
Information which appears the Places panel, however, can be created by anyone using Google Earth or KML. Learn more about sharing places data.
Using Points of Interest (POIs)
This section contains tips on using points of interest not covered in Showing and Hiding Points of Interest:
Locating POIs in Your Viewing Area
Follow these steps to find a particular point of interest in your viewing region.
- Adjust the 3D viewer to encompass the area you want to investigate. If you are interested in finding all the schools in a particular city, then adjust the viewer so that you can view the entire city. You can do this by zooming out or by expanding the size of the viewer itself (use the maximize window control or drag the size of the window using the mouse).
- Double-click on the Layers folder to expand it. You can also expand folders within the Layers folder to view certain sub-categories of POIs.
- Select one or more points of interest in the list. If there is a point of interest or business of the selected type in the viewing area, that icon appears in the viewer. Certain selections - such as a geographical feature like a lake - do not always produce an icon, but will instead display a label near the corresponding area.
Saving or Copying POIs to My Places
Once you locate a POI that you want to save for future Google Earth sessions, you can right click (CTRL click on the Mac) on it and select Save to My Places from the pop-up menu. Alternatively, right-click (CTRL click on the Mac) and select Copy from the pop-up; then paste it over a target folder in the Places panel.
Viewing Layer Sub-Categories
Some points of interest act as a folder that contain categories of data. These are indicated by a plus icon which you can click to view the sub-categories for the item. For example, the Dining layer contains sub-categories of all types of dining, from fast food to seafood. You can turn on restaurant information for a specific type of dining (i.e., seafood only), or you can select the top-level Dining check box to display all Dining types.
When you have a mix of items selected in a category, you can right-click (CTRL click on the Mac) on the parent folder and select Hide Contents from the pop-up menu to quickly hide all elements within the category.
Tuning Display of POIs
Because Google Earth can deliver hundreds of POIs to a single view, the icons marking them can be modified to make viewing them easier. The most common issues with POI display include:
- A POI doesn't appear over an area where one is expected
- No icons appear at all
- Icons overlap each other, making it hard to see the one being covered
Try the following to resolve the issue:
- Zoom in closer to the region to see if the icon appears. Remember that icons, like road data, appear at different elevations, and not all icons appear from an extended elevation. In addition, zooming in to a lower elevation often resolves the problem of icons that appear to overlap when viewed from a higher elevation.
- Check the streaming meter to make sure downloading is complete. This is located at the bottom of the 3D viewer. If you believe you are sufficiently zoomed in and no POI appears, it may be that data is still being streamed to your client. The Google Earth servers are streaming imagery, terrain, and other data to your application, so sometimes icons do not appear immediately.
- Adjust the icon size. You can change the size of icons from medium to small or large, depending upon whether you typically view the earth from a higher elevation or a lower elevation. Do this by selecting Options from the Tools menu. The icon size is set in the Labels/Icon size area. See Viewing Preferences for more details.