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The 10 best Google Earth add-ons

Get more than just satellite imagery

Google Earth is a fascinating tool. It puts an entire planet's worth of useful, relevant, and just plain weird content at your fingertips. And there's a number of add-ons that allow you to broaden the horizons of what you can see and do with the app, from historical maps and a virtual cruise to pinpointing the location of every plane that's ever been spotted by a Google Earth satellite.

We've rounded up our 10 favourite add-ons that are bound to improve your Google Earth experience. Some of the links go straight to .kml or .kmz files, which Google Earth can read. When you open these files, however, the content may not immediately display; in that case, look in the Temporary Places folder in the Places pane.

Take a trip back in time

Content in Google Earth doesn't always have to focus on in-the-present information - it often allows users to do a little time travelling too. David Rumsey, a renowned cartographer, has amassed a collection of over 150,000 historical maps, 120 of which he has used to create a fascinating layer of maps that shows how the world looked between 1680 and 1930. The highlight is the world globe from 1790, which demonstrates how dramatically the borders have shifted for many countries, especially in pre-war Europe and the Middle East. (Toggle Earth's default Primary Database layers to get a better view.)

Mapping Craigslist

Earthify has a much grander name than you might expect, given that all it actually does is to take a page of Craigslist posts (from whichever locality you specify) and plot them in Google Earth. Of course, when you think about it, that kind of makes sense, given that Craigslist is all about local information.

Cleverly, Earthify provides a browser-bookmark link that you can use to open, in Google Earth, the locations posted on any Craiglist page; as a result, if you're searching for a flat, for instance, you can instantly see if the listings are close to tube stations, restaurants, or whatever other amenities you might be interested in. Essentially, Earthify lets you use Google Earth as a geographical newsreader for Craigslist, turning a simple idea into an incredibly powerful tool.

NEXT PAGE: Follow that plane and take a virtual cruise

  1. Get more than just satellite imagery
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