Tour Builder Announcement

When Tour Builder launched as a beta project in 2013, Google wanted to share a web based tool where it was incredibly easy to add photos and videos to a sequence of locations on Earth, and then share these tours with your friends.

With creation tools now launched in Google Earth for Web, you can turn our digital globe into your own storytelling canvas, create a map or story about the places that matter to you with 3D imagery, and have the added features of robust collaboration through Google Drive. As we continue to develop the new creation tools and storytelling capabilities of Google Earth for Web, we have decided to retire Tour Builder.

You will be able to continue to edit, share, and save your tours in Tour Builder in the coming year. However, the once the tool is shut down, links to tours will no longer function and all the data will be deleted. Please read on to learn how to migrate your tours in advance of July 15, 2021 and continue to enjoy your work on other platforms such as Google Earth for Web or Google Earth Pro.

Quick Jumps

  • About the Tour Builder Shut Down
  • Tour Builder Export Options
  • Google Earth Creation Tools
  • Trust, Privacy & Security
  • Tip for Using Tour Builder through July 2021
  • About the Tour Builder Shut Down

    What will happen to the tours that I have created in Tour Builder?

    The anticipated date of the shut down is July 15th, 2021. Prior to the shut down, you will retain the ability to create new tours, edit existing tours, and continue to share your tour links. You can import your tours into other platforms such as Google Earth for Web or Google Earth Pro.

    Once the tool is shut down, links to tours created in Tour Builder will no longer function and data will be permanently and irrevocably deleted.

    What will happen to the tours that have been shared with me?

    If a tour has been shared directly with you, you would have received an email with a link to access the tour and an invitation, utilizing your Google account, to view it. As long as the permissions do not change, you will continue to have access to the tour and can export the tour prior to the shut down.

    What will happen to the Tour Builder Gallery and publicly available tours?

    The Tour Builder Gallery and publicly accessible tours should remain available until the Tour Builder shuts down on July 15, 2021. However, authors of publicly accessible tours may opt to make changes to viewing permissions or delete them at any time.

    Tour Builder Export Options

    To help prepare for the shutdown, we are excited to share a few different options that will enable you to export your existing tours into Google Earth for Web or Google Earth Pro. We recommend exporting your tour directly in Google Earth for Web, however, we have also outlined your options to work with downloaded KML or CSV files.

    What are my options for exporting or downloading tours from Tour Builder?

    If you select the option to "Export to Earth", your tour will be exported as an Earth project, which will be stored in Google Drive and can be viewed and edited in Google Earth Web. If you select the option to "Download" you will be able to download your tour as a KML file or a CSV file to open in other software.

    Export your tour as a Google Earth Project

    You can export your tour as an Earth Project in a few easy steps.

    1. Open the tour that you would like to export to Google Earth.
    2. In the drop down menu on the right side of your tour screen Hamburger menu icon there is an option to 'Export to Earth'.
    3. You will see the following information "When you export a tour to Google Earth it may take a little time. You will receive an email notification once the new project is ready. The original tour will remain unchanged within Tour Builder." Click the option to 'Export to Earth'.
    4. You will receive an email labeled 'The export of [Name of the Tour] is complete' once your new project link is ready to view in Google Earth for Web!

    Depending on the size of tour you are exporting, the creation of the new project may take a little longer than a tour with a limited number of locations, photos, text and videos.

    When you click the 'Open in Earth' button in the email, your project will open in 'Edit Mode'. To see the project in full screen and as a viewer, click the 'Present' button.

    Download your tour as a KML file

    You can view and share Tour Builder information using KML files with some limitations. KML (Keyhole Markup Language) is a file format created for storing geographic data and associated content with Google Earth. As an open geographic standard, there are many programs that enable you to read and edit the file format. Read on to learn about some of the limitations when using KML files and Google Earth.

    You can download your tour as a KML in a few easy steps.

    1. Open the tour that you would like to download as a KML file.
    2. In the drop down menu on the right side of your tour screen Hamburger menu icon there is an option to 'Download' your tour.
    3. When asked "What format would you like to download this tour as?", click the option to 'Download KML'. You will be prompted to name the tour and download a copy to your local storage.
    4. Click Save.
    5. You now have the option to open your KML in Google Earth for Web or Google Earth Pro.

    Import your KML map data into Google Earth for Web

    You can view most simple KML files from Tour Builder with Google Earth for Web, however, you may experience issues importing complex KML files.

    Another important tip, if you import KML files, you will not be able to convert them to Earth projects (stored in the Cloud), so you will not be able to easily share your KML files with others. To share your KML, you will have to export the file and share it via email, Google Drive, locally for sharing within a private internet or by other means.

    If you would like to try out your tour as a KML in, here are the steps.

    1. Using the web browser on your computer, open Google Earth.
    2. On the left, click Projects Earth projects icon .
    3. Click the New Project button.
      1. To add a file directly to your computer, select Import KML File.
      2. To add a file from your Google Drive or a shared file, select Import KML file from Drive.
    4. Your KML file will appear in your Projects panel. You can now explore and edit your KML.

    Import your KML map data into Google Earth Pro

    Google Earth for Web doesn't yet have all the features that many long-time classic desktop Earth Pro users enjoy. While we build more of these core features into the new Google Earth, we will continue to maintain the classic desktop app. If you have trouble viewing more complex KML files from Tour Builder, try using Google Earth for Desktop (version 7), which supports most KML features.

    1. Open Google Earth Pro.
    2. Click File > Open and select your downloaded KML.
    3. Click "Play Tour" in the Places Panel.
    4. Don't forget to save the KML to the My Places folder!
    5. To share your KML and KMZ files in Google Earth Pro, you can email them, host them locally for sharing within a private internet, or host them publicly on a web server.

    To learn more about KML, other ways to display geographic data, and optimal ways to share KMLs visit the Google Earth Developer's site.

    How long will it take for my tour to get exported?

    Depending on the size of tour you are exporting, the creation of the new Earth project may take a little longer than a tour with a limited number of locations, photos, text, and videos. However, there isn't a limit to the size of the tour nor the number of times you can export a particular tour.

    Look out for an email labeled 'The export of [Name of the Tour] is complete' that will have your new project link ready to view in Google Earth for Web!

    If you experience any issues, please submit the issue with the Feedback tool on the Tour Builder website, located at the bottom of the website under your Tour navigation buttons. This will send the most information and a screenshot of the issue for our teams to troubleshoot effectively.

    Will I be able to edit my tour in Google Earth?

    Yes, you will have the ability to edit your tour once you export it to Google Earth for Web.

    I've exported a tour to Google Earth for Web as an Earth project. When I make changes to the original tour in Tour Builder, will I see my edits reflected in the Earth project?

    No, when you export your Tour Builder tour to Google Earth for Web you are exporting a copy which is converted to an Earth project. The original Tour Builder tour and the new Earth project are not linked and changes in one will not update the other.

    Will I be able to collaborate with others on my tour in Google Earth?

    Yes, once you have exported your tour to Google Earth, you will be able to share the project and add multiple editors via Google Drive. This is one of the key benefits of Earth's content tools.

    Can I merge a tour created with Tour Builder with a new Earth Project?

    No. You will have the ability to edit the tour created in Tour Builder in Google Earth for Web, however, you will not be able to merge existing projects. One workaround is to pin the projects that you would like to see at the same time. More about pinning here.

    Does my exported tour have the same sharing and collaboration features as Google Earth Projects?

    By default, any tours that you export will be private only to you. Only people with the new exported Google Earth links for the web or those that have access to the exported KML file can open the data in Google Earth. To share your project with other people and groups, you will need to adjust the sharing options as you would a Google Doc.

    To learn more about setting sharing permissions, visit this page.

    Will any features change when I export my Tours into Google Earth?

    It is possible that you will notice a few subtle differences when you export your tours to Google Earth. Fortunately, your original Tours won't go away so you will have the opportunity to adjust and edit your tours as required.

    • Image Captions:

      Image captions and date fields are not currently supported in Google Earth projects. Fortunately, even though the captions are not visible now, the data will be retained and appear in the future if we introduce the ability to add image captions in Google Earth Web. In the interim, we recommend you mention the source in the panel copy or watermark the image.

    • Overlays:

      KML/KMZ overlays in your Tour Builder project will not migrate to Google Earth. A good work around is to download and save an overlay as a KML file, then import the KML file to Google Earth Web. You can pin the overlay KML files so that while you present your migrated Tour Builder tour, the overlays will be visible alongside the tour. More about pinning here.

    • Paths and Lines:

      If you opted to create a path in your Tour Builder tour, it will turn into a single line path that you can style once inside Google Earth. However, you are not able to edit the arms of the path connecting your different locations.

      When working on your Earth Project, adding a new placemark in Google Earth will not create a new connecting path like in Tour Builder. Paths might be something to tinker with inside both Tour Builder and Google Earth to reach your desired experience before you finally export the tour to Google Earth Web.

    Who will have access to the tours that I export or download?

    By default, any tours that you export will be private only to you. Only people with the new exported Google Earth links for web or those that have access to the exported KML file can open the data in Google Earth.

    To learn more about setting sharing permissions, visit this page.

    How many times will I be able to export or download my tours?

    There is no limit to the number of times you can export your tours.

    What will happen to my tours if I don't export them to Google Earth or download them as a KML file?

    All tours created with Tour Builder will be systematically deleted from Google servers following the shut down.

    I received a notification that Google Earth has been disabled for my account and therefore, my Tour could not be exported. How do I enable Google Earth?

    G Suite offers two categories of Google services: Core Services (like Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and Classroom) and Additional Services, like YouTube, Maps, and Blogger. Some services have an individual On or Off control in the Admin console and others don't. Google Earth is an Additional Service for G Suite users, and can be turned On or Off in the Google Admin console. You will need to contact your G Suite administrator or IT admin to change the access to Google services for your account.

    With G Suite for Education accounts, tools that are designed for consumer users can be used for educational purposes if allowed by a school's domain administrator. As an Additional Service, Google Earth requires schools to obtain parental or guardian consent for any minor students they allow to use it.

    This article explains more about the differences between Core and Additional Services in education environments. For more information on obtaining parental and guardian consent see this page of the G Suite Admin Help Center.

    Google Earth Creation Tools

    Where can I go to learn more about Google Earth for Web and Google Earth Pro?

    Take a look at these frequently asked questions. If you don't find an answer here or in the Help Center articles related to your issue, please create a thread and ask your question so our experts in the Google Earth Help Forum can help you.

    Where can I learn more about the creation tools available in Google Earth for Web?

    You can brush up on the basics of creation tools here or try out this tutorial that will walk you through the process of creating and sharing your own Earth project. You'll notice that the features and elements are very similar to Tour Builder, with the addition of 3D imagery and much more seamless collaboration when working with multiple project authors.

    Where can I find examples of Google Earth Projects for inspiration?

    Here are a few examples of what people are creating with Google Earth's creation tools:

    Trust, Privacy & Security

    Do you have to sign in with a Google account to use Tour Builder and Google Earth?

    Both Tour Builder and Google Earth can be explored as logged-out experiences with creation tools and the ability to add locations to projects disabled.

    However, if you are already signed into a G Suite domain account and Earth is turned ON as an Additional Service, you will be logged directly into Earth. This is how other Google products work for any user.

    Why do I need to sign in with a Google account to create tours in Tour Builder and projects in Google Earth for Web?

    Your Google account gives you a place to save your tours and future Earth projects, organize them in Google Drive, and share them easily with your colleagues, friends, and family. Learn more about Google accounts here.

    What are the content policies for Google Earth?

    You can learn about Google's content policies here.

    Tip for Using Tour Builder through July 2021

    How do I upload images or videos to my tour?

    In both the Introduction panel and the Placemark panels, you have the ability to add multiple images and videos via the large field labeled "Add Photo". From here you can upload from your local computer, from your Google Drive or Photos account, or from anywhere on the internet via Google Search.

    How do I enable/disable the lines between each placemark?

    Not every experience can be told the same way. So we created three different types of storylines that you start with - Linear, Hub, and Disabled. These control how the lines between your pins are drawn, and hence how your story will progress. To change your "Type of Story", go to your Tour Introduction panel - the first square in your tour navigation. The drop-down default is "Linear", which will draw lines between each placemark in your story creating a linear storyline. The next option is "Hub", which can be used to create a central placemark with lines spiraling out and to surrounding placemarks. The last option is "Disabled", which removes the lines between placemarks entirely for stories that are not tied to a particular timeline.

    Who can see my tour once I've made it in Tour Builder?

    Only you: your tour is private by default. Once you've finished your tour, just click "share tour" to share it with your friends and family or make it public for anyone to see.

    Can I update my tour after creating it?

    Yes. You can always go back and edit your tour on the map: add pins, delete pins, make pins private, etc.

    Once I've shared a tour, can I go back and make it private?

    Yes. You can always go back and mark your tour as private after sharing it.

    What are the content policies for creating tours?

    You can read the Tour Builder Content Policy here.

    Where can I get additional help on using Tour Builder?

    We highly encourage you to start creating projects in Google Earth! However, if you are looking for support, please create a thread and ask your question so our experts in the Google Earth Help Forum can help you.