Google Earth Pro:
Basics for Research Use

Importing, Organising & Exporting

Google Earth is a great way to visualise your geographical data without too much prior knowledge. In the first post of this series, you learned how to install and set up the Google Earth (Pro) work environment and how to use all the short keys and mouse clicks & drags to navigate smoothly in Google Earth. Here we will go over some of the ways to import data, organise the data more, and finally export your data. In the third, and currently last blog of this series, we ‘ll dive deeper into showing the data. If that’s more of your interest, feel free to move on to that post straight away, although I’ll advise you to check out the organising part of this blog.


Importing coordinates

Importing single coordinates can be as simple as entering them into the search box. IMPORTANT: the coordinates must appear in the order latitude, longitude.
Does work: 37.7, -122.2; 37 25’19.07″N, 122 05’06.24″W; 37 25 19.07 N, 122 05 06.24 W
Does not work: 37d25’19.07″N, 122d05’06.24″W

After entering the coordinates, Google Earth will fly you to the right spot. Once arrived at your coordinates, click on the ‘Add Placemark’ (menu) to add the spot your places.  Give it a name, add some description if needed.

However, if you have a lot of coordinates to enter, there are easier ways to do so. The most common ways are importing a gpx file from a GPS or GPS-app and using a CSV file (for example from excel).

Importing KML

KML files are as easy as just File –> Open.

Importing data: GPX

There are a couple of options. I’ll focus on importing a gpx file from your computer. Although there is a possibility to import it straight from your handheld GPS (Tools –> GPS, and indicate what to import). I prefer to first download the gpx track you are interested in on your computer. I have plenty of tracks on my GPS, so make a first selection seemed on its place. Currently, there is also a rising number of mobile apps giving the opportunity to record gpx or kml data, which can be exported to the cloud (or elsewhere) and imported in Google Earth this way.

The process is fairly simple, just go to File -> Open, and select the right ‘file type’ to display (‘Gps’ or ‘all files’). Indicate what you want to import: Waypoints, Tracks, and Routes. Google Earth will ask to create a KML Tracks. These newly created tracks and waypoints can be found in ‘Temporary Places’. Now just drag and drop the data into the right folder from your ‘Places’. Once you’ve loaded your GPS data into Google Earth, you can edit the waypoint placemarks and track paths, and add more information about the waypoints and tracks (Naming: See further in Organising the data).

Importing a CSV

First of all, you need an excel/csv file with the latitude and longitude, but the file doesn’t need to be exclusive to these 2 columns. You can add a name and some additional comments you like to be included. Make sure you save the file in excel as a CSV file (Comma Separated Value). Now you can go to Google Earth and follow the same steps (File –> Open). Look in file types for either ‘all files’ or ‘CSV/txt files’ and select the file you want to import. Create a new template and follow the steps. In the first tab, you can indicate the name of the points by selecting the right column from your CSV file. In colour and icon, you can indicate the colour, size, style, etc…

Importing using Google spreadsheet

Google Earth as a very useful website with tutorials as well, if you are interested in collaborating with a couple of people and make your database online, check out this tutorial on how to do it:

Organising the data

Now you got the basic about importing data. The different ways of importing data all have their own flexibility in naming and organising the data. Here I’ll focus on the organisation in folders, naming, uniform display, etc… You can create different folders and subfolders in Places just by right-clicking on the place you want to create this folder in by Add > Folder. This way you can organise different places, different research sites, the information you got from different people, …

You can change the layout of each waypoint or track by right-clicking and go to Properties. Here you can change the Name, Icon, Place, Style & Colour. Within one folder, you can change the style and the colour of all features in the folder by changing the properties from the folder (right-click on the folder and Properties).

Exporting the data

Google Earth works with KML and KMZ files, where KMZ are just zip files of the KML file. You can save everything within your places (not Temporary Places) by going to the menu File –> Save –> Save Places or Save My Places. You can also just save your folders/projects. Right-click on the folder you want to save and click ‘Save Place As…’ Definitely worth for projects you are not currently using and clean up your places.

Finishing Up

I hope with this short tutorial you have a better understanding of importing, organising and exporting data in Google Earth (Pro). If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to get in contact (Comments below, Contact Page, Facebook Page, …). Now you know how to install and configure Google Earth and know how to import, organise and export, the next tutorial will take you into how to display your data. Google Earth is a very powerful tool when it comes to visualisation, so definitely check it out…

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