Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mac video solution for Google Earth

FLV file Icon from Adobe Systems
FLV file Icon from Adobe Systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google Earth is a fabulous application for viewing, not only the satellite views of our planet, but for other media as well.  You can annotate placemarks with text, images, or video, and link to pages on the Internet for viewing in the main window.  For over a year though, Mac users have been missing out.

When Google Earth was updated in late summer of 2013, Mac computer users suddenly found that embedded YouTube videos weren't working properly.  The template just showed a black screen and if you clicked on it, you were rewarded with Google Earth crashing.  This isn't an issue with PCs, so what gives?

I've been searching the user forums and help centers for quite a while now, and I think I finally found an answer - and a potential solution.  As far as I can understand it, the problem lies when you have several applications incorporated into another.  The Macintosh operating system is different from PCs, and so the Google Earth developers have to alter their code.  As we all know, tech doesn't stand still for anyone, and so if the developers of the different systems and applications aren't on the same page, then problems like this will arise.  The main culprit in this case appears to be how Mac computers use Adobe Flash video; at some point in 2013, Google Earth and Flash didn't add up.

Many thanks to user "piwei" in the Google Earth Help Forum.  According to piwei, Google Earth uses the Flash player installed for Mac's Safari browser.  So when Adobe made an update to Flash, it no longer worked in Google Earth.  Piwei's solution is to uninstall any Flash updates to Safari and install an older version of Flash.  Particularly, Flash version released in 7/9/2013 will fix the problem for Google Earth (thanks "solomonderweise").  You can read the forum thread here.  Remember to do this for the Safari browser on your Mac - I don't believe it's the case for other browsers.  You'll also want to avoid any automatic Safari Flash updates in the future.  You can find instructions on how to uninstall Flash in Safari here, and the archived versions here.  Remember, use the version listed above.

Problem solved?  Well, for myself,  I know videos in Google Earth will play now when I present material to a class or audience.  On the other hand, I have an outdated version of Flash in Safari which doesn't have the most current security updates, and so on.  I use Chrome as my browser, so I don't think this will be a problem.  The problem remains though for the common Google Earth Mac user.  I wouldn't expect everyone to go through this, and I cringe to think of someone doing all of this for an entire computer lab.  Still, if you're a hardcore Google Earth user, then at least you have a solution for the video problem.  Let's hope the Google Earth team can finally make a workaround in the next update.  It's time - we've been waiting.

Note:  You might find this is a solution for other incompatibility issues on Mac computers.  It most likely would occur when you're using a browser other than Safari on your Mac and a web-based program isn't working.  I think the reason for this is that when someone develops a version of an application for Macs, they're building it for the Safari browser.  That's the browser that comes with all Macs, so that makes sense.  Please let me know if you have any insight on this, or if my assumptions are wrong.


sujon007bd said...

Thank you very much for your detailed and described article.

Thomas Petra said...

I just had a long awaited Google Earth update last night. The first thing I checked was the video problem and, thankfully, it seems to be resolved. I tested it on another Mac and it seemed good there too. Hopefully this post is obsolete now.

Shubham Jain said...

Thanks for sharing information about google earth. It was quite helpful.