Using Google Earth – technical hitches and what to do

This is a follow-up post to the recent Google Earth courses in London, Belfast and Edinburgh.

During these courses a number of technical issues arose that can present a barrier to implementing Google Earth successfully in the classroom. Here’s a list of the issues and what to do…

Installing Google Earth
Google Earth is free to download from In Northern Ireland, the free version is available via C2K. In other areas, consult your school IT support. If your IT is managed by RM, there is a blueprint available from the RM website (this will make sense to your school IT support).

Using Internet Explorer to open images
I wrongly assumed that all Internet Explorer settings would be the same for opening images from the heard drive. If you cannot see the file path and name of the image you would like to insert into a placemark description when you use Internet Explorer, you will need to make the following changes:

  • in the top menu, select ‘View’ > ‘Toolbars’ > ‘Address Bar’
  • the ‘Address Bar’ may now appear in full or as a grey box in the top left hand corner
  • try to ‘drag’ the grey box down show it show in full
  • if this does not seem to work, right click the grey box and click on ‘Lock the Toolbars’ to remove the tick and try again

Google Earth slows up or the screen is grey
This is a network issue. If you have an important lesson with a class of pupils accessing Google Earth at the same time, you should warn your IT support in school in advance and they will help you manage the network to maximise your chances of a trouble-free lesson. If the screen does go grey, simply close Google Earth and restart the application (NB remember to save any work first).

Images show as grey boxes in placemark descriptions
This can be for a number of reasons. Check the manual and your notes to make sure that you have typed the correct code. It can also be because of ‘zip’ settings on your local network. KMZ files require Google Earth to ‘unpack’ the images associated with your KMZ files. There may be settings in place that will stop this from happening. These are in place as a number of computer viruses are sent as ‘zip’ files. Talk to your IT support if this seems to be a problem.

Complete meltdown, confusion or panic
Please do comment or contact Digital Explorer if you have any other problems.

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