Explore the world with ArcGIS Earth

Sign in

First, you'll start ArcGIS Earth and sign in.

  1. Start ArcGIS Earth.

    If you don't already have ArcGIS Earth, you can get it here.

    ArcGIS Earth opens, showing the world as a 3D globe. Before you continue, you'll sign in to your ArcGIS account, which will allow you to access online data and add it to ArcGIS Earth.

  2. If you're using an ArcGIS Online account for this lesson, sign in using your ArcGIS Online credentials.

    If you don't have an ArcGIS Online organizational account, you can sign up for a free trial of ArcGIS.

  3. If you're using an ArcGIS Enterprise account for this lesson, sign in using the following steps:
    • Close the sign in window. In the upper right corner, click Not signed in and choose Portal Manager.
    • In the Portals window, click Add Portal. Type the URL for your Enterprise portal and click OK.
    • To use your portal, right-click its URL and choose Set As Active Portal.
    • When prompted, sign in with the credentials for your Enterprise portal and close the Portals window.

    If necessary, confirm that your ArcGIS Enterprise configuration is sufficient to complete this lesson.

  4. If necessary, for Take a tour and learn more, click Skip.

Change the basemap

Next, you'll change the basemap. A basemap provides background geographic context for the content you add to the globe. ArcGIS Earth connects with ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise to access its default basemap gallery and terrain.

The default basemap displayed in ArcGIS Earth is Imagery (your default basemap may be set to something different by the administrator of your organization). You'll switch the basemap to National Geographic, which shows place names, country boundaries, and other information and will make it easier for you to explore some of the additional layers you'll be adding to the map later.

  1. On the toolbar in the upper left corner of ArcGIS Earth, click the Basemap and Terrain button.

    Basemap and Terrain

    The basemap gallery opens. A check mark indicates the currently selected basemap. Depending on your organization's default settings, it may already be the National Geographic basemap. Otherwise, you can change it.

  2. If necessary, scroll down and click the National Geographic basemap.

    National Geographic basemap

    The basemap changes automatically.

  3. Click anywhere outside the basemap gallery to close it.

    Updated basemap


    Your default extent may differ from the example image.

Explore the map

Next, you'll explore the map. ArcGIS Earth allows you to search for and zoom to a point of interest on the earth and save the location as a bookmark. The Search function uses the geosearch service from ArcGIS Online. By default, ArcGIS Earth uses Esri's World Geocoding services to find addresses, cities, landmarks, business names, and other places in more than 100 countries around the world. You can also search using the coordinates of a location with XY Provider.

  1. Click the Search button. In the search box, type the name of a location you're interested in exploring (for instance, Paris, France). Click to select the correct result.

    Paris, France, search results

    The map zooms to the location you chose.

    Map of Paris, France

  2. Explore the map.

    Depending on the device you're using, you can navigate either with a mouse or with touch.

    When navigating with the mouse, you can rotate the view, tilt, and zoom at the same time, while selecting, measuring, or editing your features. A single click allows you to identify features with an instant pop-up window; drag to pan around the view. You can rotate the wheel button to zoom in and out; drag it to zoom in and out continuously. Right-click and drag to tilt your view or rotate around the point you clicked. You can also explore the globe with predefined flight patterns by right-clicking in the scene. Four options are provided: Rotate, Pitch, Far, and Near.

    In the upper right corner of the ArcGIS Earth interface, there are additional navigation controls. Click the North button to reorient your scene with north at the top of your view. Click the Home button to zoom away from the earth and orient north at the top.

    There are three navigation modes available using touch: single-finger pan, multiple-finger zoom and pan, and multiple-finger rotate and pitch. Place one finger on the display to use single-finger pan. Spread, pinch, or drag two or more fingers on the display to enter pan and zoom mode, or place multiple fingers on the display at a consistent distance to navigate in heading and pitch mode.

    For more information about ArcGIS Earth navigation and keyboard shortcuts, see Navigation controls.

    Next, you'll create a bookmark. A bookmark saves a specific geographic location that you can navigate to later while you explore the world.

  3. On the toolbar, click the Bookmarks button.

    Bookmarks button

    The bookmarks pane opens.

  4. Click the Add button.

    Add button

    A bookmark is added for your current location.

  5. Name the bookmark appropriately (for example Paris, France) and press Enter.

    If you want to update the bookmark, click the Update button on the bookmark.

  6. Navigate to and create bookmarks for the following locations:
    • Bell Rock, Arizona
    • Mount St. Helens, Washington
    • Venice, Italy

    You'll navigate to all of your bookmarks in a sequence with a bookmark tour.

  7. Click the Done button.

    Done button

    The available buttons change. Now, you can play a bookmark tour.

  8. Click the Play button.

    Play button

    A tour of all of your saved bookmarks plays.


    To change the order the bookmarks appear in the tour, drag them to reorder them.

  9. Once the tour cycles through your bookmarks, click the Stop button and close the Bookmarks pane.

Add data from Living Atlas

While the basemap has plenty of information about the area you chose to explore, you can add even more data from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. Living Atlas is a collection of ready-to-use global geographic information on a variety of subjects. It enables the exploration of people and places around the world, as well as the natural and human-made influences that impact them.

You'll locate the World Ecological Land Units map in Living Atlas and display it in ArcGIS Earth. The World Ecological Land Units map portrays a systematic division and classification of life on Earth using ecological and land surface features. Because it's a global dataset, it's an ideal data source to analyze in ArcGIS Earth.

  1. On the toolbar, click the Add data button.

    Add data button

    The Add Data window opens. By default, the available data is filtered to show your content. To search Living Atlas layers, you'll broaden the search to include data from all available sources.

  2. In the Add Data window, click My Content and choose All.

    Next, you'll search for the layer you want.

  3. In the search box, type World Ecological Land Units 2015 (GIS Day) and press Enter.

    World Ecological Land Units 2015 (GIS Day) search

    The search returns several results.

  4. Locate the World Ecological Land Units 2015 (GIS Day) web map, point to its thumbnail image, and click the Merge button.

    Thumbnail image for World Ecological Land Units Map 2015


    If you don't see this web map in the search results, check with your organization's administrator to confirm that your account has access to subscriber content.

    The World Ecological Land Units web map is added to the map, and the map zooms out to a global extent.

  5. Close the Add Data window and click the Home button.

    Updated map

  6. Pan and zoom around the world to explore the World Ecological Land Units web map. Using the search box, explore some of the following locales:
    • Mount Everest
    • Yucatan, Mexico
    • Cairo, Egypt
    • Auckland, New Zealand

    Mount Everest

    The World Ecological Land Units web map provides land managers, scientists, conservationists, planners, and the public the most detailed map available for global- and regional-scale landscape analysis and accounting, assessment of ecosystem services, and examination of risks such as environmental degradation. The ecological land units also lend themselves to the study of ecological diversity, rarity, and evolutionary isolation.

    For more information about the World Ecological Land Units map, see its item details page.

Add data from files

You can also view local file data from your computer or shared drives. Supported local data types include the following:

  • Shapefiles (SHP), a popular geospatial vector data format for GIS software
  • Keyhole Markup Language (KML and KMZ) files, a commonly used format for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers
  • Text (TXT) and comma-separated value (CSV) files containing location coordinates or addresses

First, you'll add a KMZ file of 3D data. You'll download the file and save it on your machine. Then, you'll add it to ArcGIS Earth.

  1. Download and save the KMZ file.
  2. On the toolbar, click the Add data button.
  3. At the top of the Add Data window, click Add Files. Click Select files.

    Add Files

    The Open window opens, allowing you to browse the files on your machine.

  4. Browse to and select the san_francisco_job_density.kmz file. Click Open.

    ArcGIS Earth zooms to the city of San Francisco and displays the file. The number of jobs per square mile is displayed using different colors as shown in the legend in the lower right, and at the same time is displayed in 3D (the taller the polygon, the greater number of jobs in that area).

    San Francisco

    Pan and zoom around San Francisco to explore job density in 3D. The 3D job density polygons are displayed on top of the World Ecological Land Units 2D polygons.


    You can also drag KML and KMZ files from your desktop onto the globe.

    Next, you'll add a shapefile to the map. Many government agencies and other organizations share their data online in shapefile format. You'll add a shapefile that shows the boundaries of the Ada-Vamoosa aquifer in Oklahoma.

  5. Download the Ada-Vamoosa.zip file.
  6. Right-click the file and extract it to a location where you can easily find it, such as your Documents folder.
  7. Drag the Ada-Vamoosa.shp file from your data browser to the ArcGIS Earth viewer.

    Contents of Ada-Vamoosa.zip

    ArcGIS Earth zooms to the area of east-central Oklahoma and displays the Ada-Vamoosa aquifer.

    Ada-Vamoosa aquifer in the map


    The color that ArcGIS Earth uses to symbolize the aquifer is random and may differ from the example image.

    An aquifer is a body of permeable rock that can contain or transmit groundwater. Displaying the Ada-Vamoosa aquifer on top of the World Ecological Land Units layer can help land managers, conservationists, and the general public visualize the relationship between land and water in this area.

Add data from a URL

Next, you'll add data to ArcGIS Earth from a URL. Before you do that, you'll turn off the World Ecological Land Units map and the San Francisco Job Density data with the layer list. The layer list helps you manage the display order of map layers and symbol assignment, as well as set the display and other properties of each map layer. You'll open the layer list to manage your layers.

  1. On the toolbar, click the Expand layer list button.

    Show layer list button

    The layer list opens. It shows all of the layers currently on the map and what the features in each layer represent.

  2. Uncheck the box next to My Data to turn off all the layers in the display.

    Unchecked layers

    ArcGIS Earth now displays only the National Geographic basemap. Next, you'll add a layer from a URL.

    For this exercise, you'll add the World Traffic Service map service. This map service will let you visualize traffic speeds relative to expected averages as well as see traffic incidents. The traffic data is dynamic, updated every five minutes, which is why you're adding the service from a URL rather than adding it from a static file.

  3. On the toolbar, click the Add data button.
  4. In the Add Data window, click Enter a URL.

    Enter a URL

  5. For Type, make sure that ArcGIS Server service is selected.
  6. For URL, copy and paste https://traffic.arcgis.com/arcgis/rest/services/World/Traffic/MapServer.
  7. For Name, type World Traffic Service.

    Add Data window settings

  8. Click OK.

    The World Traffic Service layer is added to your map. The map zooms to the full extent of the globe, which makes it difficult to see the layer. You'll navigate to a smaller extent to see the layer better.

  9. If necessary, close the Add Data window. In the search box, type Connecticut and press Enter.

    The map zooms to Connecticut.

  10. If necessary, zoom out until you see some traffic incidents displayed on top of the National Geographic basemap.

    Connecticut in the map

    The green traffic areas blend into the green basemap. To make the layer more visible, you'll change the basemap.

  11. On the toolbar, click the Basemap and Terrain button. Change the basemap to the Dark Gray Canvas basemap.

    Dark Gray Canvas basemap

    Adding dynamic information to ArcGIS Earth lets you visualize what's happening right now. Explore the map and see what current traffic conditions are like in your city compared to other cities around the world.

Share your map

Now that you've added data to the map, you'll share your map via email.

  1. On the toolbar, click the Share button and choose Email.

    Email option

    ArcGIS Earth opens an email in your default email client. The email is prepopulated with an image of your map as an attachment.

  2. Type the email addresses of people with whom you would like to share the map.

    Sample email window

  3. If you want, customize the default subject line.
  4. Type a personalized message.
  5. Click Send.

    The email is sent to the addresses you specified.

  6. Close ArcGIS Earth.

    When you close ArcGIS Earth, the application automatically saves your current map by default. To check or change the autosave setting, click the Settings button on the toolbar. In the Settings window, under General, check or uncheck Autosave workspace on exit, depending on your personal preference. You can also change the default Workspace Directory (the location where your workspace files are autosaved), if you want.

    Autosave workspace on exit checked

In this lesson, you learned how to use ArcGIS Earth to explore the earth, change the basemap, find and add data layers, and share your map. You can continue your exploration with the virtually limitless amount of geographic data at your disposal on the Internet. What else can you learn using ArcGIS Earth?

You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.