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.KML File Extension

File TypeKeyhole Markup Language File

3.8 (157 Votes)
CategoryGIS Files

What is a KML file?

A KML file stores geographic modeling information in the Keyhole Markup Language (KML), which is a geographic information systems (GIS) data format based on XML. It includes placemarks, points, lines, polygons, and images. KML files are used to identify and label locations, create different camera angles, overlay textures, and add HTML content (links, font styles, etc.).

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Screenshot of a .kml file in Google Earth Pro 7.3
KML file open in Google Earth Pro 7.3

The KML format was originally developed by Keyhole, Inc. for Keyhole Earth Viewer, a mapping program that was acquired by Google in 2004. The format eventually became a worldwide standard for geographic annotation and visualization in 2D and 3D geographic mapping programs. KML files are primarily associated with the Google Earth web application and Google Earth Pro desktop program. They are also supported by other mapping applications, such as Blue Marble Geographics Global Mapper and ESRI ArcGIS Pro.

Most KML files are created with Google Earth or Google Earth Pro. To create a KML file in Google Earth, click the "Projects" icon in the left pane, select "Create," and choose "Create KML file." To create a KML file in Google Earth Pro, select File → Save → Save Place As..., then choose "Kml" from the dropdown menu.

Since KML files are saved in plain text, users may create KML files from scratch or by copying features from Google Earth Pro. To do this, right-click a feature in the 3D Viewer of Google Earth Pro and select Copy, then paste it into a TXT file open in a text editor. Users can then save .TXT files, and change the .txt file extension to .kml.

NOTE: Users may save KML files as .KMZ files, which are Zip-compressed to save space when sharing the files with other users.

How do I open a KML file?

You can open KML files with a variety of mapping applications for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. The Google Earth web browser application and Google Earth Pro desktop application are common choices.

To open a KML file with Google Earth, click the "Projects" icon in the left pane, select "Open," and choose "Import KML file from Google Drive" or "Import KML file from computer." To open a KML file with Google Earth Pro, select File → Open....

Since KML files are saved in a plain text, XML-like format, you can open them with a text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows) or Apple TextEdit (macOS).

NOTE: You can also open a KML file in Google Maps by hosting it on an online location and then typing the URL in the Google Maps search box. For example, if you host your KML file at http://mywebsite.com/myfile.kml, then type this URL in the Google Maps search box to display it.

Alternatively, you can construct the URL yourself in Google Maps by prefixing your KML file's URL with http://maps.google.com/maps?q=. For example, to open the same KML file from above, you can use the following URL:


This procedure also works for Google Earth View, the 3D earth-browsing plug-in you can add to your web browser.

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Programs that open KML files

Updated 9/25/2020

About KML Files

Our goal is to help you understand what a file with a *.kml suffix is and how to open it.

The Keyhole Markup Language file type, file format description, and Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS programs listed on this page have been individually researched and verified by the FileInfo team. We strive for 100% accuracy and only publish information about file formats that we have tested and validated.

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