How to export to KML from the new Google Maps?


As part of the recent Google Maps redesign, the ability to export your map to KML was mistakenly removed. According to a post in the Google Maps support forum, the feature will be added back in to Google Maps as soon as possible. In the meantime, here’s a workaround for you:

1 — Set the map the way you’d like it.

2 — Click the “link” icon in the top right corner.

3 — Copy the link below the “Paste link in email or IM”.

4 — Paste the address into your address bar and then add &output=kml to the end of it.

The image below helps explain how steps #2 and #3 work:


No timeframe was given for the return of the KML link, but I expect they’ll fix it fairly soon. Let us know if you have any trouble getting this workaround to work for you.

Can Google come update my area?

We get emails quite often asking if/when Google will be updating the imagery in a particular area. The short answer is no, we have no idea when new imagery might appear and we don’t know Google’s plans for updating a particular location. We discussed this question last year, but a few things have changed since then. Here is an overview of some options you have if you’re wondering about the next update for a specific area.


As we’ve seen recently with Japan (and previously with Christchurch, Haiti and others), Google is quick to respond to a natural disaster and tries to publish updated imagery as quickly as possible.

Historical Imagery

While the historical imagery in Google Earth is typically older than what’s on the base map, that’s not always the case. Check your area, and you may find that the historical imagery is newer than the main imagery.

Get updates about your area

A few months ago, Google introduced the “Follow Your World” tool, which allows you to sign up for notifications when a particular location is updated.

Things are speeding up

Google is gradually increasing the pace and quantity of their imagery updates, so every area should start to see a more rapid cycle of fresh imagery in the coming years.

How it all works

Of course, be sure to check out this excellent post from Frank a few years ago that explains how the entire imagery process works.

How Google Earth displays dates on their imagery

As you probably know, when you’re looking at an area on Google Earth, the date the imagery was captured appears in the lower-left corner, as shown here:


However, what does that date actually mean? As some of you have pointed out, the date doesn’t always correspond with the imagery (snow on the ground in July, etc).

For standard satellite images, it’s simply the date the imagery was taken, which makes sense. Easy enough. The discrepancies arise when Google loads imagery for a large area from a commercial aerial provider. In those cases, they’re given a range of dates for the imagery. The date you see on the screen is the “oldest known date” for that imagery, while the tic mark in the Historical Imagery sliders is the “newest known date”. In many cases, those date ranges can be up to a few months apart.

To confuse it further, some providers don’t even have exact dates for a batch of imagery; they might simply say “April-June, 2010”. In those cases, Google considers that to be “April 1 – June 30, 2010”, and then displays the date as explained in the previous paragraph.

While the system obviously isn’t perfect, it’s certainly improving. Google Earth didn’t start showing the date in the corner until version 5 came out (so you had less of an idea of when the imagery was captured), and the Historical Imagery tool was certainly a great addition to Google Earth.

As the pace and quantity of imagery updates continue to increase, I expect we’ll see some refinements to this system over the coming years to help it become even more accurate and useful.