Not too long ago, if you had a GPS and you wanted to use it with Google Earth, you had to download “Google Earth Plus,” which cost you 20 bucks a year … but a few months back, Google discontinued that product, promising they would roll over some of its features into a future version of Earth.

Well, apparently, they did. They just didn’t really bother to make a lot of noise about it.

In the new Google Earth 5, GPS transfer for Garmin and Magellan devices is already built in. Just plug in your GPS, fire up Earth, and go to the Tools Menu, which has an item called “GPS.”

gps import screen on the Google Earth

It’s that simple. If you want to see all of your individual track points and the direction of your movement, you can create the clickable image. Otherwise, the default setting will do you just fine. Here’s a quick import I did of a recent hike in Malibu Creek State Park. You can see, it imported the tracks and waypoints perfectly:

null

You can also choose to import GPS data in real time, but I’m not on a laptop so I can’t try that one out yet.

This is still not a great way to edit your tracks, but it is a relatively painless way to get your data into Google Earth. And if you’ve got a Mac and are sick of Garmin dragging their feet on getting their Mac software ball rolling, this will work in the interim.

Thanks, Google!

Tags: , ,

Join the Modern Hiker Newsletter

Learn about new trail guides, outdoor news, and be the first to learn about events in the free Modern Hiker Newsletter. All original content and guaranteed not to flood your inbox -- new issues usually come every 2-3 weeks.