How to Get Topography on Google Earth: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to get topography on google earth

Getting topography on Google Earth is a straightforward process that allows you to explore the elevations and landforms of any location on the planet. You simply need to enable the terrain layer and then navigate to the area of interest. This tutorial will guide you step by step to ensure you can view topographic details on Google Earth with ease.

Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Get Topography on Google Earth

This step-by-step guide will show you how to enable and view topographic information using Google Earth. By following these instructions, you’ll be able to see the elevation and terrain features of any place you’re curious about.

Step 1: Open Google Earth

First, open Google Earth on your computer or mobile device.

Google Earth can be accessed via its desktop application or through your web browser. If you don’t have it installed, you can download it from the Google Earth website. Once opened, you’re ready to start exploring.

Step 2: Locate the Sidebar

Next, locate the sidebar on the left-hand side of the Google Earth interface.

The sidebar is where you can find options for layers and other settings. If it’s not visible, you can click on the three horizontal lines (menu icon) at the top left to make it appear.

Step 3: Enable the Terrain Layer

Now, find and check the box next to "Terrain" in the Layers section of the sidebar.

Enabling the Terrain layer allows Google Earth to display elevation data. This means you’ll see the hills, valleys, and mountains in 3D, giving you a sense of the topography of the area.

Step 4: Search for a Location

Type the name of the location you want to explore into the search bar and hit Enter.

Google Earth will fly you to the location you entered. You can also zoom in and out, or drag the map, to navigate to the area you’re interested in.

Step 5: Tilt the View

To see the topography clearly, tilt the view by holding down the mouse wheel (or pressing Shift and dragging on your touchpad).

Tilting the view allows you to see the landscape in 3D, which makes the elevation and terrain features more pronounced and easier to identify.

Step 6: Zoom In and Out

Use the zoom controls to get a closer or wider view of the topography.

Zooming in lets you see more detailed features, while zooming out gives you a broader perspective of the area’s landscape. This can be helpful for understanding the overall topography.

After completing these steps, you will be able to see the terrain and elevation of the area you are exploring. The topographic features will be displayed in 3D, providing a realistic view of the landscape.

Tips for Viewing Topography on Google Earth

  • Use the compass tool to rotate the view and get different perspectives of the terrain.
  • Adjust the time slider to see how the landscape changes with the seasons.
  • Use the historical imagery feature to explore past terrain changes.
  • Save locations and views for easy access later by adding them to your "My Places" folder.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts for quicker navigation and more efficient viewing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enable the Terrain layer in Google Earth?

You can enable the Terrain layer by checking the box next to "Terrain" in the Layers section on the sidebar.

Can I view topography on Google Earth mobile app?

Yes, you can view topography on the Google Earth mobile app, but the options might be limited compared to the desktop version.

Is the Terrain layer available in Google Earth Pro?

Yes, the Terrain layer is available in Google Earth Pro and can be enabled in the same way as in the standard version.

Can I see elevation data for any location on Google Earth?

Yes, Google Earth provides elevation data for most locations around the world, though the detail might vary depending on the area.

How do I capture a screenshot of the topography view in Google Earth?

You can capture a screenshot by using your computer’s screenshot tool or by using the “Save Image” option in Google Earth Pro.


  1. Open Google Earth.
  2. Locate the sidebar.
  3. Enable the Terrain layer.
  4. Search for a location.
  5. Tilt the view.
  6. Zoom in and out.


Getting topography on Google Earth is a fantastic way to visualize and understand the terrain of any location on Earth. Whether you’re a student, a geography enthusiast, or just someone curious about a particular place, following these simple steps will enhance your exploration experience.

By enabling the Terrain layer and adjusting your view, you can see the world in 3D and appreciate the natural elevations and landforms. Google Earth is a powerful tool, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be navigating and exploring like a pro. Don’t hesitate to dive deeper and explore the additional features Google Earth offers. Happy exploring!