Knowledge Base

How to Open KML and KMZ Files

KML and KMZ files are those which are designed to represent two and three-dimensional geographical images. KML and KMZ formats are typically used for programs such as Google Earth and are capable of indicating geographical data, such as latitude and longitude and more recently objects in 3D.

If you are unfamiliar with KML and KMZ file types, first we will define what they are and exactly what they do. Then we will explain how to open each file to help you get started with them.

KML and KMZ Files Defined

KML stands for Keyhole Markup Language and is a file which contains geographic modeling information for geo-browser applications such as Google Earth. The models in KML files include latitude, longitude, lines, points, images, and polygons which are used to label specific geographic locations on a map image. KML files were originally developed by Keyhole Company before they were acquired by Google several years ago to be used with Google Maps and other Earth browser programs.

KMZ stands for Keyhole Markup Language Zipped and is basically a compressed or zipped KML file which contains all of the related resource and subfolders of the KML file, only they are in a compressed format. A KMZ file stores map locations, place marks, and folders associated with a bird’s eye view of earth locations. It can also store 3D data models which are created in CAD programs, such as Google SketchUp. The data models are used for placement in a location on Google Maps to determine what a structure will look like in its everyday surroundings.

KML files can occupy a lot of hard drive space, so KMZ makes them more compact by compressing them in a zipped filed format. It also makes the KML file easier to distribute and share with multiple users.

How to Open KML and KMZ Files

To open KML and KMZ files with a Geo-browser program, such as Google Earth:

  • Install Google Maps: First, it is important to make sure you have Google Earth installed on your PC. If you do not have the program, you can download it by visiting the Google website.
  • Use Compression Software: Since KML files are typically compressed into KMZ using compression software, you can unzip them to view the contents with such programs as WinZip or WinRar.
  • KML File Software: Software which supports KML files and opens KMZ files also include Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Google SketchUp, which is Google’s free CAD program. It is also possible to open KML and KMZ files using FileCure, designed to open unknown file extension types.

In the event you do not want to wait for KML or KMZ files to open once you download them to a folder, you can take a shortcut and open them directly in Google Earth to view the file contents online. You can accomplish this by copying the link to the KML or KMZ file and then simply pasting it into the search box for Google Maps. Or you can opt to paste the links into the Google search engine. When the search results appear, click on View on Google Maps to plot the contents of the KML or KMZ file using your browser.

This should help you get a head start on opening and working with KML and KMZ files using Geo-browser software.


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