Packaging Content in a KMZ File

The best stories told in Google Earth tend to make use of images. KMZ files offer a great way to bundle your placemarks with the images they reference. This tutorial shows you how to make the best use of what KMZ files offer.

What Is a KMZ File?

KMZ files are very similar to ZIP files. They allow you to package multiple files together and they compress the contents to make downloading faster. This allows you to bundle images along with your KML file if you want.

You can easily create KMZ files using Google Earth. When you save a placemark or folder from your Places panel, you have the choice of saving your content as a KMZ file or a KML file. This is similar to the way that web browsers allow you to save complete web pages, including images and style sheets or just the HTML for a single web page.

Here's a video covering some of the basics of KMZ files:

Learn why KMZ Files Can be Useful for Google Earth Content

When to Use the KMZ File Format

Here are some general tips on when you might want to use KML instead of KMZ and vice versa. Note that these are guidelines and you're free to choose the approach that best suits your needs

Develop your content as a simple KML file.

Don't worry too much about KMZ files when you're starting a new project. It's good practice to organise any images you use into a small number of folders, but don't worry about packaging your work into a KMZ until later.

Publish your content as a KMZ file.

When you're ready to distribute your content to others - whether you're posting a file on the web, emailing an attachment to a colleague or preparing for a presentation in front of a live audience - save your KML file and any images you want to include as a KMZ file.

When you make a KMZ file, you don't have to include images. A KMZ file can simply be a compressed version of a KML file without any multimedia files included. At the very least, you'll make a smaller file that will download faster.

Deciding on a project type

Before starting a new project using Google Earth, think about the goal of that project:

Tips for Web-Dependent Projects

Sometimes you'll want your placemarks to reference images on the web. This could come in handy if you will be updating the images periodically, you want to include attributed images from another site or if you simply want to reduce the download size of your KMZ file.

Here are a few tips for using images on the web in your KML file:

Here's a simple video example of making a KMZ file (without including images) and publishing it on the web:

Using KMZ Files for Web-Dependent Projects

Here are some links and resources mentioned in the video:

Tips for Self-Contained Projects

If you're planning to send around your content to a private group or are presenting it in a location that has limited or no Internet access, consider bundling any images your placemarks reference as a part of your final KMZ file. Google Earth does this automatically for you if the images you use in your placemarks are on your computer's hard drive.

Before you start creating a self-contained project, complete the section on web-dependent projects above.

Here are a few tips:

Here's a video example of creating a KMZ with images included. The video is broken into 2 parts:

Using KMZ Files for Offline Projects (1/2)


Using KMZ Files for Offline Projects (2/2)

A Few Warnings

The tips above are designed to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls and questions you might run into. There are always trade-offs for each choice you make in designing your KMZ. Here are a few warnings to help you minimise any problems that might occur:


Have questions about this tutorial? Want to give us some feedback? Visit the Google Earth Outreach Discussion Group to discuss it with others.

What Next?