Using Google Earth

There are many commercial aerial photograph suppliers which will provide copies of historical aerial photographs for a fee. In addition, free copies of historical satellite/aerial photographs can be obtained from Google Earth at You may need to do this on a computer as the version of Google Earth on tablets and phones is a cut-down version which may not have the historical image facility.

Tap on the clock symbol on the bar at the top and a slide display will appear showing the years of the earliest and latest aerial/satellite images available. Move the slide to find the month/year you are interested in. Google Earth will then display an image taken that month or, if it does not have an image taken that month, it will display the most recent image taken before that month.  

To save the image, select File - Save - Save Image, navigate to the folder you wish to save the image in, type in a file name and select Save.

As shown above the image will have an imagery date displayed at the bottom in mm/dd/yyyy format and the slide at the top will have a month and year in mm/dd/yyyy or mm/yyyy format. Theses two dates (slide date and imagery date) may be some months apart in which case the date that the image was actually taken will, according to Google, be somewhere between these two dates. So in the example above the date the image was taken will have been between 5th March 2008 and 30th September 2008. One reason why you only have a date range rather than a precise date is that a " zoomed out" image may consist of multiple satellite or aerial photographs taken over a period of days or months. But even zoomed-in images often have a date range (i.e. the slide date is later than the stated imagery date) rather than a precise date. One reason for this is that Google gets its images from a number of different suppliers and some suppliers may not give precise dates for each image but only an earliest and latest date for a batch of images, so, for example, if the supplier's records only record that a batch of images was taken in the year 2005, the imagery date will be shown as 1/1/2005 for a slide date as 12/2005. 

Google is adding to the number of images it is licenced to display all the time and it can only display one image per date range. Consequently it is possible that an image displayed for any given history slider position may change over time. So if you find an image which shows some detail you are interested in, be sure to save a copy - don't rely on exactly the same image being available the next time you use Google Earth.    


This information page is designed to be used only by clients of John Antell who have entered into an agreement for the provision of legal services. The information in it is necessarily of a general nature and is intended to be used only in conjunction with specific advice to the individual client about the individual case. This information page should not be used by, or relied on, by anyone else.

The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in June 2017 Disclaimer