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I would like to show/hide a Google Earth folder without affecting the visibility settings of items nested within that folder.

For example, several top-level folders might each contain a hierarchy of folders and placemarks, each of which may have had hand-tuned visibility that I don't want to lose when temporarily toggling visibility of folders higher up in the hierarchy.

It appears that when the visibility of a higher-level folder is toggled, its new visibility setting is forced upon all its children.

Is there a way to preserve the visibility settings of children (ie., make them independent) when their parent's visibility is changed?

[Of course I'd expect if their parent is hidden, a child would be hidden too regardless of its visibility setting. A child item would display if their parent's visibility is set to 'not hidden' AND their own visibility is set to 'not hidden'.]

If that's not possible with the current GE interface, is there a good alternative or work-around? RadioFolder style does not seem to be a solution as it seems to be handled by the GE interface the same way as regular folders (children settings are altered when parent visibility is altered). I guess I could convert folders into network links and then manage them independently, manually doing a 'save' (overwrite) to set child settings and a reload to restore the visibility settings (but that would be clumsy). Any suggestions?

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You are correct that you cannot change the visibility of the parent folder without applying it to all of its children. This is a limitation of the Places UI which helps keep things simple. The ListStyle "checkHideChildren" option would not work well without it.

As you suggested, you can sort-of do what you want by using network links to refresh the original version of the file with your desired visibility settings.

A similar approach is to have each top-level folder be its own KML file on your local drive, and instead of toggling-on the visibility checkbox, you can right-click and select "Revert" to re-load the file (with original visibility settings). It takes a bit of setup, and is not a single click in the UI, but could be a workaround depending on your needs.

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