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Exploring Built-in Sightseeing Placemarks with Google Earth

A placemark is to Google Earth what a bookmark is to a Web browser. When you see something interesting while you're wandering the virtual planet and you want to be able to get back there easily, just slap down a placemark, and Google Earth remembers the location for you.

Placemarks are used in Google Earth exactly how pushpins are stuck into physical maps that hang on walls, and that's why its icon looks like one.

You don't have to wait until you've explored the world to have a few placemarks. Google Earth comes with a ready-to-use selection that includes some great sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Canyon. Here's what you can explore. Note: The content is variable, and more is being added.

  • Google Campus: Google's Mountain View, California site
  • Grand Canyon: Arizona's famed landmark
  • Colorado River View: Another aspect of the Grand Canyon
  • Mount Saint Helens: Washington State's notorious volcano
  • Chicago River: Where it meets Lake Michigan
  • Manhattan Island: New York's heart
  • Eiffel Tower and Trocadero: A triumph of architecture and the gardens of Paris
  • Nelson's Column: London's homage to England's naval hero
  • Red Square: Moscow's historic district
  • St. Peter's Basilica: The Vatican City location of Papal ceremonies
  • Former Republican Palace: The palace of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Iraq
  • Union Buildings: South Africa's governmental center
  • Forbidden City: Beijing (Peking), China's palace of the Ming Dynasty
  • Olympic Site: Sports complex that hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan: The palace of the President of India in New Delhi
  • Reichstag: Germany's parliamentary building in Berlin
  • Imperial Palace: The home of Japan's emperor in Tokyo

Some of these Sightseeing placemarks include in the description suggestions for an enhanced experience, such as enabling the 3D Building layer for a more impressive skyline or tapping into the vast commentary of the Google Earth Community for the kind of information you don't find in the travel books.

To get familiar with your placemarks, follow these steps:

1. In the Places pane, scroll down to Sightseeing.

If necessary, click the plus sign to expand the list of Sightseeing placemarks so that you can see them. (The plus sign toggles to a minus sign when the list is expanded.)

If your sidebar is turned off so that you can't see the Places pane, you can bring it back by pressing Ctrl+Alt+B.

2. If you can't read the full description in the Places pane, click the placemark (don't double-click).

This opens up a text balloon in which the whole description is shown.

3. To see a placemark, double-click it.

Google Earth automatically flies you to the placemark. During the flight, the text balloon shows the description of the location and remains there after you arrive.

To remove the text balloon from your screen, click anywhere else in the program after you arrive. Or, you can get proactive and click the X in the upper-right corner to close it during flight.

You can optionally click the To Here or From Here links (in the text balloon) if you're looking for travel directions. The To Here and From Here links work only with placemarks.

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