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Have you ever wanted a little digital globe you could interact with, spinning the Earth around to see the continents, oceans, and features of our planet? If so, you’ll be happy to discover that the Maps app on the Mac has a hidden globe view that allows you to interact with and spin planet Earth as a virtual globe.
The hidden globe view in Maps can be a great feature for obvious geography reasons, whether it’s for informational, exploration, educational uses, just having a little fun, or any other reason you’d like to reference a globe. Even more interesting is that Maps Globe view uses satellite data to show the Earth surface relative to the sun, making both day time and night time views visible depending on the time of day. The whole Globe view is quite interesting and fun to play with.
Read on to learn how to access Globe view in the Maps application for Mac.
How to Access Globe View on Maps for Mac
Ready to switch the Maps app into Globe view? Here’s how you can do that:
- Open the “Maps” application on the Mac
- Choose “Satellite” view by clicking the button in the upper right corner
- Now zoom out in Maps view, you can zoom out by clicking the minus “[-]” button in the bottom right corner of Maps app or by using a pinch gesture on a tracking surface
- Keep zooming out until you see Maps has entered into Globe view
- Interact with the Maps app as usual, you can spin the globe, rotate it around in just about any orientation with a click and drag, zoom in and out, etc
You can zoom in and out of globe view quite fast with the pinch and spread gestures on a tracking surface.
One of the more compelling aspects of Globe view in Maps is that it uses updated satellite imagery based on time of day and the Earth position relative to the sun, so you can see where night and day fall on the globe.
The daytime view is brightly lit as you’d expect and makes identifying continents, oceans, and land features pretty easy. The night time view of the world is quite fascinating as well because it uses detailed satellite imagery to show light pollution on the surface of Earth, making it easy to locate cities, developments, and the human behavior on the planet, visible much like the glowing activity of humans is from the International Space Station, NASA imagery, or some other satellite or space craft (maybe this trick could be extra helpful to any aliens out there floating around in space looking down at Earth but haven’t figured out quite where to land yet).
And yes if you’re an iOS user and you were wondering, the Maps app on iPhone and iPad also has globe view that is accessible in basically the same way as this, hidden behind Satellite view and requiring lots of zooming out to see.
Exiting out of Globe view is just a matter of either choosing the “Map” mode of Maps app, or zooming into any surface on the Earth close enough so that the globe is no longer visible.
Some Maps features work in Globe view while others don’t, for example you can drop pins and share a location while in Globe view, but features like scale indicators and saving Maps as a PDF don’t entirely work while in Globe view. You can also use “Show Labels” to toggle off or on the labeling of cities and continents.