How to Find a Building on Google Earth
(And See a Good Close-up of the Roof)
This article gives step-by-step instructions for locating and viewing a satellite image of your house (or any building with an address, really) using Google Earth. It’s very simple.
Go to Roof Online’s Satellite Images and Roofs page.
Desktop/laptop users can click on the images to enlarge them.
1. The first thing you should do is download and install Google Earth Pro. You can use Google Earth on the web without installing it if you’d like, but Google Earth Pro has features you may want later, and…it’s free. You can download Google Earth Pro at: https://www.google.com/earth/versions/
2. Launch Google Earth Pro (or Google Earth). If this is the first time you’ve opened it, you’ll see an image of the Earth with menus and tools around the sides of the screen, with a “Start-up Tips” box blocking the middle of the screen. Close the “Start-up Tips” box.
3. In the top left corner of the screen, you’ll see a search field. Start entering the address of the house (or any other building!) that you want to see. Google Earth will offer suggested addresses below the search field as you type. When you see yours, click on it and it will appear in the search box.
4. Once the correct address is in the box, click “Search”. Google Earth will now zoom you to that location.
5. An orange pin appears at the address as the image field zooms to the location.
6. Still zooming! (Getting closer.)
7. When Google Earth is finished zooming, the image field will be centered on your address and the pin. At this point, it will appear that you are looking down at your house from a few thousand feet.
Every once in a while, Google Earth will glitch, and the pin will not be on the right location. If you suspect this has happened, you should try entering a different, but very close, address. Like the address next door to the one you want. If it still takes you to the wrong place, you’ll have to make sure street names, landmarks, and businesses are turned on, and use the context these things provide to hunt down your target location. This happens very rarely, but it does happen.
8. Now you’ll want to get a closer look. There are two ways you can zoom in: you can use the zoom tool near the top right corner of the image field, or you can just scroll with your mouse wheel. If you scroll with the mouse wheel, you have to make sure that the mouse pointer is inside the image field.
9. This is about as close as you can get without severely changing the viewing angle. (If you try to get too close, you’ll switch over into “Street View”.) Keep reading to see how to get the view back to where you’re looking straight down.
10. If your house isn’t centered in the image field, you can grab any spot in the image and drag it around. To center the image field on your house, put the mouse pointer (which turns into a little hand when it’s inside the image field) on your house and hold down the left mouse button. This lets you drag the house to the center of the image field.
12. If the orange pin and the address text are sitting right on your house, as in our picture, you can remove them by clicking the “X” to clear the search results box.
13. If the image is tilted so that it looks like you’re viewing your house at an angle, which can be irritating, you can fix this. The “Reset” function lets you reset the viewing angle. At the top left, click on “View”. This opens a drop-down menu. Near the end of the drop-down menu, click on “Reset”. This opens another little menu to the right. Click on “Tilt”, and your view of your house will go back to where you’re looking straight down.
14. Back to a straight down view!
15. You can also rotate the image if you want to. Put the mouse pointer on the “N” on the little circle in the top right of the screen, hold down the left mouse button, and drag the “N” around the little circle. Clicking the left and right arrows inside the circle will also rotate the image.
16. Your building may be in an area covered by Google Earth’s 3D Buildings function. If it is, you may see buildings which just look like featureless geometric shapes. You don’t want that! You can turn off the 3D Buildings function by unchecking the box next to “3D Buildings” in the “Layers” menu near the bottom left of the screen.
17. Same view as above, but with “3D Buildings” turned off: