File associations and a Google Earth / Google Earth Pro dual

February 9, 2017

Today’s post is a tip for people that have both Google Earth and Google Earth Pro installed on Windows.

Today, our Google Earth installation updated automatically to the latest version. The problem is that we have both Google Earth and Google Earth Pro installed. We had previously manually updated Google Earth Pro when the latest version was released a couple of weeks ago. The result is that this latest update has reset all the file associations back to Google Earth even though we prefer to use Google Earth Pro. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if you could just use the standard Windows method for changing file associations via the ‘Open With’ dialog box. However, due to a quirk in the way Google has set up the file associations in the Windows Registry, this method doesn’t work for Google Earth.

One solution we have used in the past is actually quite simple, but easily overlooked. The file associations are tied to whichever application was installed last. So if you want you KML and KMZ files to open in Google Earth Pro by default, you could simply reinstall it, and it would capture the file associations. However, when we tried this technique by installing using Google’s online installer it did not work. The file associations remained tied to Google Earth. So, we installed it using the offline installer found here. That did the trick, but apparently when you use the offline installer, the automatic updates are turned off. We then tried using the online installer for Google Earth Pro and it reset the associations back to Google Earth! Google must have got something wrong with the latest online installer.

If you are adventurous and wish to change the associations via the Windows Registry, find the following two keys:


And change thier values to the following to associate files with Google Earth Pro
"C:Program Files (x86)GoogleGoogle Earth Proclientgoogleearth.exe" "%1"

Warning: Incorrectly modifying the Windows registry can have disastrous consequences. Please only try it if you are comfortable with making registry changes.

For the majority of people, however, once you have Google Earth Pro, you no-longer need Google Earth so you can simply uninstall it.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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