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Google Earth tricks
© Gary Hider |
Tech tips

5 hidden Google Earth tricks: See your neighborhood over time, calculate how far you are from loved ones

You might not be taking advantage of all of Google’s amazing tools and features. For example, if you’re a history buff, you can use Google Maps to see images of things like Pearl Harbor and the Titanic. Tap or click here to pinpoint fabulous finds with Google Maps.

Then there’s Google Earth, a treasure trove of valuable and unexpected information. You can do much more than use it as a map from points A to B.

Get ready to see how your neighborhood has changed over the last 40 years, explore the ocean depths to discover shipwrecks, plan your next vacation, and even calculate the distance between you and your favorite people. Keep reading for ways to get the most from Google Earth.

1. How to use Google Earth to travel back in time

Are you ready to see what your neighborhood looked like 30 years ago? You can create a fun and free time-lapse video with Google Earth. Here’s how:

  • Visit Google Timelapse.
  • Type the location into the Search the Planet box. The area you watch can be as specific as your home address or as broad as a continent.
  • Select 3D or 2D to gain additional visual detail.
  • You can also select the person icon to go to street view.

Next time someone talks about how things used to be back in the day, you can pop out a map and discuss details. That ice cream parlor Nana always talks about? It used to be right there! You can even use Google Earth to calculate the exact distance between you and Nana with a few quick clicks.

2. How to calculate how far you are from your loved ones

If someone you love is far away, knowing exactly how far can be a great comfort. Google Earth makes this easy. To find out how far away you are from the ones you love, do this:

  • Open Google Earth on your phone or computer.
  • Click the search icon and enter your loved one’s location.
  • Click the measure icon
  • Click the map to select your loved one’s address and begin measuring.
  • Click on the small target icon near the map controls to “fly to your location.”
  • When your location appears, click the map again to measure the distance.

Google does note that the distance feature does not account for elevation, and it is most accurate when measured with a top-down (2D) viewpoint. 

3. Search the ocean depths and look for shipwrecks

Google Earth has captured images of thousands of shipwrecks over the decades. Here’s how to view some of them. 

  • Open Google Earth.
  • Enter the specific coordinates to view some of the best shipwrecks caught on camera.
  • Here are some you can try:
    • 50°23’42.35″N 125°57’25.64″W.
    • 64°10’34.46″N 51°43’20.85″W. 
    • 40°33’24.59″N 74°13’6.22″W. 

Some people love searching for shipwrecks on Google Earth so much that they have created giant interactive maps. Check out one of the largest here

4. Boldly go where you’ve never gone before with Google Voyager

According to Google, “Google Earth’s Voyager is a showcase of interactive guided tours, quizzes, and layers that aim to help educate everyone about the world, locations near and far.” Here’s how to use it:

  • Open Voyager on Google Earth.
  • You can choose from several options, including images of great hikes worldwide or the visual fate of coastal cities as sea levels rise and fall.
  • You can even view 3-D high-res images of the world’s most toured places, like the Eiffel Tower in France or the Parthenon in Greece. 

You’ll see things from a new perspective for free, all without leaving your chair.

5. Google’s Black Marble NASA collab that reveals Earth from space

Google has partnered with NASA to take pictures of Earth from space. All of the images are accessible for free online. The Black Marble project is the name of Google’s official NASA collaboration, showing stunning images of Earth and city lights at night.

You may also like: Google Maps knows everywhere you’ve been

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