If you're already using Google Earth and planning on upgrading to the latest version to take advantage of Street View or another new feature, you'll need to uninstall your old version first. Unfortunately, this might be harder than it might at first seem...
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Upgrading to Google Earth v5
Google Earth is a free application from Google which provides a virtual look at the planet Earth from space, employing the use of satellite photographs and various user generated content.
Like the browser-based Google Maps, Google Earth also has support for Street View, the controversial photo system that displays roads and buildings in photographic form, created by the army of Street View vehicles that have crawled the USA, Europe and further afield over the past 3 years.
However older versions of Google Earth don’t have this support – necessitating an upgrade to the latest version of the app. As new features of Google Earth aren’t available via update, this manual upgrade via a download is the only way to get the added features.
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How to Completely Uninstall Google Earth - Registry
Unfortunately, many users have encountered difficulty with the upgrade to Google Earth v5. Simply uninstalling the old version often isn’t enough – a visit to the Windows system registry has been one of the only ways to completely remove the application – a necessary step in order to allow a successful installation of Google Earth v5.
Following the uninstallation of Google Earth and a system reboot, go to Start > Run and enter regedit.
In the Windows system registry, press F3 and search for googleearth.
Each entry you find should be removed – press F3 again to skip to the next example. There are many references to the application within the Windows system registry, so this might turn into a time intensive task.
Once complete, reboot once again and run your Google Earth v5 installer.
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Check Your Temporary Files
If removing references to Google Earth in your Windows system registry didn’t solve the problem of how to completely uninstall Google Earth, there might yet be another chance.
Hidden somewhere on your PC will be a Microsoft installer file from an older version of Google Earth. By removing this file, you should then be able to complete installation of your preferred version of the application.
To find this installer file, you will need to locate your Windows Temp directory. In Windows XP this is usually c:\windows\temp – however you can confirm the actual location by going to Start > Run and entering %systemroot%\temp.
In this folder, you will find many installation and other temporary files used once only and then discarded by Windows. You can delete all of these, in particular the Google Earth.msi package, however you might prefer to take some precautions.
Once way to remove the files from this directory without deleting them is to create a new folder. Call it my-temp (or something equally meaningful) and then cut and paste the other contents of the c:\windows\temp folder into this new one. If everything moves without a problem, it is OK to delete the files. Anything that results in an error however will not be available for deletion at this time.
The Google Earth.msi file should be available to delete – one reboot later and you should be able to install Google Earth v5 without a problem.