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How to Use Google Earth to Show and Share GPS Routes and Tracks


If you want to use Google Earth to view the routes you've traveled, you can import them to your computer directly from your global positioning system (GPS).

Google Earth supports most GPS devices made by Magellan and Garmin. You can view the complete list of devices it supports at http://www.gpsbabel.org/capabilities.html or you can try any device, which might or might not work correctly [source: Google Earth].

Here's how to import data from your GPS to Google Earth:

  1. Open Google Earth (http://www.google.com/earth/index.html) in your Internet browser.
  2. Install all the necessary drivers onto your computer. Insert the CD that came with your GPS into your computer, or download the necessary software from the company's Web site.
  3. Connect your GPS to your computer using the serial or USB cable that came with the GPS.
  4. Turn on the GPS.
  5. Select GPS from the Tools menu in Google Earth. The GPS Import window will appear.
  6. Select your particular GPS device or click on Import from file.
  7. Select your file if you're importing from a file. Otherwise, select what kind of data you want to import. Tracks are points your GPS recorded automatically during your travels. Waypoints are points you entered yourself. Routes create a route from point to point and can contain more than one set of directions.
  8. Select KML Points or KML LineStrings. These are tracks that may or may not include a time element.
  9. Select Adjust altitude to ground height if you want to view your route from street level.
  10. Click Import[source: Google Earth].

Once you import your routes to Google Earth, you'll also be able to see the elevation and altitude changes along the route, the average speed you traveled and even a video of your route [source: Krazit].

If you're using an Android phone, you can share your track with friends:

  1. Record your track with the My Tracks application.
  2. Select share with friends. Make sure you share it as a GPX file and not as a KML [source: Google Earth].

If you want to share your tracks using an iPhone, you'll have to purchase one of the programs designed for this purpose. Then you simply follow the prompts to send your tracks to a friend [source: Google Earth].


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