Google Earth Hacks: Floating the Navigation Panel

The Google Earth User Interface is controlled by a mysterious cabal directed by the Vatican. Whoops, check that - Da Vinci Code marketing cross-talk. The Google Earth User Interface is really controlled by a simple, easy-to-read, easy-to-modify XML file. This means it’s easy to show, hide, or modify elements of the user interface. Here’s an example.

Google Earth with floating navigation panel

Observe the floating navigation panel with more room for the Earth in Google Earth. The navigation panel can also be hidden, or dragged to a different screen. Convenient.

This change is simple to make by editing the Google Earth "kvw" (Keyhole View?) file. On my system, this is found at C:\Program Files\Google\Google Earth\kvw\default_lt.kvw. This is a simple text file. Open the file in a text editor and find the Navigation Panel windowStack. Change the location attribute to "float" as you see below.

Google Earth XML Configuration

Make a backup before you start making changes. More extreme changes are not kosher, resulting in Google Earth failing to start. Restoring the kvw file from backup will fix the problem.

[Added]OgleEarth provides directions on using this hack on Mac OS X.

For the Mac, right-click on the Google Earth application (when it is not running), select "Show package contents", then navigate on over to:


Open it in a text editor and apply Juice Analytics’ hack. 

Incidentally, the Google Earth map you see above is graphing hurricane paths of the last 5 years with color coded intensities using a Python KML library. Just trying to keep up with the Joneses (the Joneses, in this case, being the Timoney group with their excellent start to Google Earth based analytics).