As of January 28, 2015, Google Earth Pro is a free program!
So...why use Google Earth for Genealogy?
Glad you asked! Google Earth and Google Earth Pro have alot of uses for the Family Historian. With this program, you can "fly to" a location where your ancestor lived. This is a great feature if your ancestory lived in Sweden and you live in Nebraska.
You can plot (with Placemarks) the path your ancestor took in this and other countries. For example, your great uncle went from place to place (presumably for work) as shown on the US Census. You can zoom out of the map you are in and get a visual on the route your ancestor took.
You might even want to make a tour based on the wanderings of your ancestory, Google Earth calls them movies. You can make a movie of various locations and then save it and send it to relatives and friends via email.
There are many reasons to use Google Earth and the real fun is finding your own uses!
Downloading Google Earth Pro
If you have downloaded Google Earth, you know how simple it is. But with Google Earth Pro being free it is worth downloading this program and letting it take the place of Google Earth. There is one extra step in downloading the Pro version.
1) Go to www.google.com/earth
2) Click on the Google Earth Pro option on the right side.
3) Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Download Google Earth Pro
4) Agree to the Terms and Services and allow automatic updates.
5) Make sure the latest version is selected.
6) You might want to deselect the “Help us improve Google Earth by allowing us to collect anonymous usage statistics”
7) Click download
8) Click Run
9) Wait for Installation Complete and close that box.
10) Double-click the Google Earth Pro icon on your desktop
11) You will be asked to log in with your email and license key.
12) Input your email in that field
13) In the license key field, put GEPFREE
14) Click ok and the program will open
Overview of Google Earth Pro
Top row on the left side of the screen: (this is very similar to a web browser)
File: Open, Email, View in Google Maps (the web based mapping system), Print, Import (you can import maps and other data), Server sign-out, Disable Automatic Sign-In, Maps Engine (a work application)
Edit: Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Find
View: Here is where you can set your viewing preferences concerning screen size, historical imaging, scale legend, etc. You can also set your start location.
Tools: Here you have tools for GPS imports, Movie Maker (very important!!), regionating. You can also set your Google Earth Options from the last selection on the drop-down. Add: In this drop-down you can add place markers, circles, polygons, photo and image overlays.
Help: Get help with Google Earth here!
Second Row (with all the icons) Going from left to right:
Hide sidebar: Use this button to get rid of the left sidebar and expand the map screen
Add Placemark: This button is used to easily place markers. (Very handy when making a movie)
Add Polygon: Polygons are used with measurements
Add Path: Can be used when making a movie
Add Image Overlay: Used when overlaying a downloaded image onto the map
Record a Tour: Used in making a movie which is essentially a tour
Show Historical Imagery: Clicking this will produce a bar. Slide the slider back and forth to see how the image has changed through time.
Switch between Earth, Sky and other Planets: You can explore the sky, moon, Mars in addition to earth
Show Ruler: Used to measure between two points
Email: You can email the image on the screen
Print: You can print the image on the screen
Save Image: You can save the image to your computer or flash drive
View in Google Maps: Google maps is the limited web based map application put out by Google. You can open the screen image in Google Maps.
Sign in: You can sign into your Google account on the right hand side
The Right Side:
Under Places: My Places has your Starting Location and a preloaded Tour.
Create folders to store your Placemarkers Under Layers: All of the preloaded layers.
Of particular interest to Genealogists would be the Dave Rumsey Historical Map collections.
The Left Side
The top circle is used for:
Moving North-South-East-West by rotating the outer wheel
Move Up-Down-Left-Right by clicking the arrows on the inner wheel
The Middle circle is used for moving Forward-Backward-Left-Right on the screen
The person is dragged into the screen to enter Streetview
Note: At the right hand top of the screen, an Exit Streetview menu will appear. Click it to get out of Streetview The plus/minus sliderbar is used to zoom in and out of the image.
Locating a Place: A fun way to see where your ancestors REALLY lived!
You can fly to a location in a few of ways:
1) Enter the coordinates into the search box and click search
2) Enter the name of a location (Salt Lake Temple) and click search
3) Enter the address of a location (123 Monroe St, Salt Lake City, Utah) and click search
Note: When you start typing in a location name or address, a drop down menu will appear with suggestions. If you see your place in that menu, click on it and it will automatically take you there.
Placemarking: Track ‘em!
Placemarking is a great way to track how your ancestors moved about the world.
Place Mark a location by “flying to” that location and clicking the Add Placemark button on the second row above the image screen
Zoom out to see your placemarks and what is around them
Making a Movie (or Tour): Put all that tracking to good use!
These instructions are taken off of Link
You can use the Movie Maker feature to record 3D viewer imagery and save the recording as a movie file. You can make a movie that follows the camera viewpoint to and from multiple locations. You can set the feature to record the entire tour without interruption. Once you finish recording and have saved your movie file, you can make the file available on a web site, use it in a presentation, or send it via email.
Saving Locations You Want to Show
First, you need to save placemarks of locations you want to show. To do this:
1. Fly to the place you want to add to you movie (tour)
2. Create a placemark for this location by clicking the Add Placemark button on the second toolbar at the top
3. Create a folder and move your placemarks into that folder
Record Your Movie: Now you are ready to record your movie.
To do this:
1. In the Places panel, check and select the folder that contains your placemarks.
2. Test how your movie will play out by clicking the Play Tour button. Google Earth Pro tours the locations. Note that you can set tours so that they play only once, show descriptive balloons, etc.
3. Click Tools Movie Maker. The Movie Maker dialog box appears.
1. (Windows and Linux only) Under Supported Compression Formats, choose a desired compression format for your movie. Learn more about these options.
2. Under Movie Quality, choose Standard Quality. This setting works well for movies that you want to provide over the Internet. Do not change the frame rate (FPS).
3. Under Resolution, use the 320x240 default setting. This setting works well with most screen displays.
4. Under Record Movie to this location and file, specify a name for your movie. Click on the Browse button and navigate to a location on your computer where you want to save the movie file when you are finished recording. Type in a name for the file in the file dialog box and click OK.
5. In the Places panel, be sure the the folder that contains your Mount Everest placemarks is checked and selected. Click the Play Tour button.
6. Click the Record button. This button is available only after you enter a valid filename for your movie. When the movie begins recording, the Movie Maker dialog box appears below so you can visualize the recording of the movie. Google Earth Pro records the movie in a small area in the center of the screen.
7. When the tour is complete, click Stop Recording. The movie is complete. Google Earth Pro asks you if you want to view the movie file in a media player that supports the movie format you selected. If you are satisfied with the results, you can post the file to a local server or use it in a presentation.