How to darken your home on Google Maps

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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support.microsoft.com

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Shocked to learn that your home is on Google Maps' Street View feature? Here's how to darken your home on Google Maps and stay private online.

You've probably seen Google's car with a mounted camera, shooting footage for Street View mode. It's amazing that we can use a computer or a phone to see places we've never visited.

But if privacy is important to you, knowing that Joe Bloggs in Sydney, Australia can control what kind of car you parked on your trip, or the color of your curtains, could be disconcerting.



Therefore, you may be thinking about blurring your home on Google Maps. It's simple enough to do, but should you?

Why is that house blurry on Google Maps?

By browsing Google Maps Street View, you can see all kinds of places, from unusual animals to the same person photographed over and over. Some people even make an effort to prank the Google Maps car, hoping to appear in Street View perhaps dressed in weird clothes.

While zooming through the streets on Google Maps, you may have noticed that the faces are blurry. This practice protects privacy, which is why some homes are blurry as well.

Why blurring your home on Google Maps can help privacy

With a blurry house on Street View, strangers can't use Google Maps to take a look at your property.

This is a pretty useful option, as it limits what potential intruders, thieves, or scammers can learn about you. Street View already offers outsiders the opportunity to cross a written address (basically just a postcode) with a recently photographed property over the past couple of years.

There is a chance that a lot of information will be leaked from Street View, from changes to your property and vehicle betraying prosperity to learning where delivery drivers put their packages. Online stalkers can use Google Maps to find out more about their goals. And people on Google Maps have even been spotted conducting an illicit relationship. If this happens to you, you may be publicly identified and embarrassed, or even forced to pay for silence.



In other cases, new homes of people fleeing former abusive partners were discovered using Street View.

Unfortunately, these are just some of the ways Google Maps can be misused.

All in all, darkening your home on Google Maps makes sense from a security and privacy standpoint.

How to blur your home on Google Maps

Now that you know why houses are blurry on Google Maps, you might think it's something you want to try.

However, before proceeding it is important to understand that you don't just blur a house on Google Maps. This is a permanent change that cannot be undone.

To blur your home on Google Maps Street View:

  • apri maps.google.com
  • Go to your house
  • Drag the Street View icon onto the street next to your house
  • Focus the view on your property
  • In the lower right corner, click Report a problem
  • Here, check that the address is correct (if not, go back and try again)
  • Then, adjust the image preview to focus on your home
  • In Why are you reporting this image use the tool Request blur
  • To blur the house, select The My home
  • Additional information must be provided to support blur, up to 1500 characters, so mention privacy reasons here
  • With the reason given, enter yours email address in the required field
  • Complete captcha validation and then send.

Shortly after, you will receive a message like this:


Hello,

Thank you for reporting quality issues with a Street View image. We are constantly working to improve our images and are excited to share that every day we drive (and ride!) In multiple locations around the world.


Due to the volume of these inquiries, we may not contact you directly, but we appreciate your help in identifying this issue.


Best regards,

The Google Maps team

If successful, the property blur should be completed in a couple of days. Keep in mind that you can use the same tool to blur faces, license plates, and even entire vehicles. In most cases, these are automatically blacked out before the images are uploaded to Street View, but this is not always the case.

 

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