I have recently become aware of a number of tile-server map sources and I would like to use these as overlays in Google Earth. Is there a way to do this directly that does not involve pre-downloading the tile data and converting it into a Super Overlay?

For example here is a tile server URL for a resource I wish to overlay:

  • I know there is already a KML overlay for this resource; I am using it as a generic example.

  • I am using the now-free Google Earth Pro if this makes a difference.

(This seems like a question that would have been asked before but I could not find a duplicate.)

2 Answers 2


I created GEOS, the Google Earth Overlay Server for exactly this purpose.

That's a python server running locally and creating KML overlays for tiled maps.

You can specify custom mapsources in XML-format:

    <name>Example Map</name>  <!-- Name of the map as displayed in Google Earth -->
    <minZoom>5</minZoom>      <!-- minimal zoom level supported by the web map -->
    <maxZoom>15</maxZoom>     <!-- maximal zoom level supported by the web map -->
    <!-- url: tells GEOS where to find the tiles.
         Tile URLs contain three Parameters: zoom, x and y -->
  • That sounds really neat! I'll have to try this when I have time. Thank you.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 16:25

I think you should have a look at ESRI's new ArcGIS Earth. It is also a free application, and is in many ways comparable to Google Earth, albeit the display of some of the imagery not as sharp and detailed as in Google Earth.

However, the great thing about ArcGIS Earth is that you can very easily add, and overlay, any WM(T)S service on top of the globe, which seems what you intend to do. It doesn't involve pre-downloading tiles, you just add the service and can start exploring the globe including the overlay right away...

ArcGIS Earth: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis-earth

By the way, the link you posted is from an ArcGIS Server Web Service, which isn't entirely equivalent to a standard OGC service. Of course, ArcGIS Earth can consume this, as it is an ESRI ArcGIS service.

I have successfully added the URL you supplied to Earth. To do this yourself:

  • Download and install ArcGIS Earth
  • Open the app
  • Click the "+" button in the top left
  • The dialog as visible in the first image attached to this post becomes visible. Click on the "Enter a URL" TAB on the top of the window.
  • For "Type" choose "An ArcGIS Server Web Service"
  • Now enter the URL as: https://gis1.usgs.gov/arcgis/rest/services/gap/PADUS_Owner/MapServer
  • The layer "PADUS_Owner" should now become visible under "Layer" in the dialog
  • Click OK, the layer will be added. Notice it was successfully overlayed on the globe, as can be seen in the second image in this post

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • +1 for making me aware of an alternative. How well does this software import existing data from Google Earth? I have a ton of Placemarks and paths that I would need to port, many with custom icons etc. Also I have saved many Panoramio photo Placemarks; will these load in ArcGIS Earth?
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 12:32
  • I know for sure ESRI is putting a lot of effort in supporting KML and KMZ as well as other formats. The best thing though, is to try it out, and see if you can open your files. The add data button does support loading KML and KMZ.
    – Marco_B
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 13:06
  • That wasn't the question.
    – MrYellow
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 21:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.