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 necessary, in the Take a tour pop-up, click Skip.
  3. If you're using an ArcGIS Online account for this lesson, sign in using the following steps:
    • In the upper right corner, click Not signed in. Then click Sign in.
    • Sign in using your ArcGIS Online credentials.

    Sign in for ArcGIS Online


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

  4. If you're using an ArcGIS Enterprise account for this lesson, sign in using the following steps:
    • In the upper right corner, click Not signed in and click 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.

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 Imagery with Labels, 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 Gallery button

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

  2. If necessary, scroll down and click the Imagery with Labels basemap.

    Basemap gallery

    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 Nairobi, Kenya. Click to select the correct result.

    Nairobi, Kenya search results

    The map zooms to the location you chose.

    Map of Nairobi, Kenya

  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.

    Right click to see more options for navigating the map

    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.

    North and Home button

    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 bookmark button

    A bookmark is added for your current location.

  5. Click the text New Bookmark, rename the bookmark Nairobi, Kenya, and press Enter.

    Rename bookmark Nairobi, Kenya


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

  6. Navigate to and create bookmarks for the following locations:
    • Bell Rock, Arizona
    • Mount Fuji, Japan
    • 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 2015 layer in ArcGIS Living Atlas and display it in ArcGIS Earth. The World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 layer is distinct bioclimate, landform, lithology, and land cover map that form the basic components of terrestrial ecosystem structure. For more information on the layer, you can review its item details page.

  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 ArcGIS 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 Living Atlas.

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

  3. In the search box, type World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 and press Enter.

    World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 search

    The search returns several results.

  4. Locate the World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 map image layer, point to its thumbnail image, and click the Add 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 layer is added to the map, and the map zooms out to a global extent.

  5. Close the Add Files window.
  6. On the toolbar, click the Expand Table of Contents button

    Expand Table of Contents button

    Under My Data, you'll see the World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 layer listed. You'll slightly adjust the transparency to make it easier to view.

  7. Right-click World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 then click Properties. In the Properties window, click the Appearance tab.
  8. Set Layer transparency to 50%. Close the Properties window.

    Adjust transparency

    Each of the 44 land cover classes in the layer corresponds to a specific color. Before you explore the map further, you'll open the Legend to view the classes alongside the map.

  9. In the Table of Contents window, click the Legend tab.

    Table of Contents Data tab

  10. Pan and zoom around the world to explore the World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 layer. Using the search box, explore some of the following locales:
    • Innsbruck, Austria
    • Zaragoza, Spain
    • Brasov, Romania
    • Uppsala, Sweden

    Innsbruck, Austria

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 CaliforniaCountyPopulations.KMZ file.
  2. Change the basemap to Topographic.
  3. On the toolbar, click the Add data button.
  4. 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.

  5. Browse to and select the CaliforniaCountyPopulations.KMZ file. Click Open.

    You may need to zoom and pan to view California, USA. On the map, population per county is display with colored points and height lines indicating the total population. You may need to right-click and tilt the map to view the 3D lines.

    California population by county

    Pan and zoom around California to explore the population density for the different counties.


    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 county boundaries of California.

  6. Download the CaliforniaCounties.zip file.
  7. Right-click the file and extract it to a location where you can easily find it, such as your Documents folder.
  8. Drag the CA_Counties_TIGER2016.shp file from your data browser to the ArcGIS Earth viewer.

    Contents of CA_Counties_TIGER2016.zip

    ArcGIS Earth displays the county boundaries of California.

    California counties in the map


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

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 CA_Counties_TIGER2016, CaliforniaCountyPopulations, and the World Ecological Land Units Map 2015 data in the table of contents. The table of contents helps you manage symbol assignment, display order and other properties of each layer.

  1. On the toolbar, click the Expand Table of Contents button.

    Expand Table of Contents button

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

  2. In the Data tab, uncheck the box next to My Data to turn off all the layers in the display.

    Unchecked layers

    ArcGIS Earth now displays only the Topographic 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 window, click Enter a URL and set the following information:

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

    Add Data window settings

  5. 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.

  6. If necessary, close the Add Data window. In the search box, type Delhi, India and press Enter.

    The map zooms to Connaught Place, New Delhi.

  7. If necessary, zoom out until you see some traffic incidents displayed on top of the Topographic basemap.

    Dehli, India in the map

    Adding dynamic information to ArcGIS Earth lets you visualize real-time situations. Explore the map further 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 (or your own email address).
  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.