When SketchUp starts, it uses either a template file as the basis for a new model file or it opens an existing model file. Some template files contain information meant to help newcomers to computer modeling get comfortable with a 3D environment, such as sky and ground plane and scaled human figures. This is not necessary for experienced CAD folks doing product modeling.
A simple template with a white background works well. A template file should be in the units with which you work, should be at a scale (zoom factor) for the size of products you deal with, and contain any office standards that you develop, such as layers, scenes, materials, etc.
A template that will work well is one that is in plan view looking down upon a white surface or ground plane, with no color and no scale figures. Here’s how you can develop a standard template that you can use for your products.
SketchUp has a small number of native tools. They are broken into toolbars. There is a ‘Large Tool Set' toolbar that contains all the main tools in a standard arrangement. Go to View > Toolbars… and click the Large Tool Set on Windows, or [View > Tool Palettes > Large Tool Set on the Mac]. If you’re using the Large Tool Set, The Getting Started toolset can be turned off. On the Mac, the Getting Started toolset is on the toolbar across the top of the screen by default. To remove these buttons on a Mac, Context Click on the toolbar, and select Customize Toolbar… and drag them off the bar to discard them.
It is also a good idea to set the Push/Pull tool to active selection mode. Go to Window > Preferences > Drawing and checkmark the Disable Pre-pick on Push/Pull tool in Windows [on Mac, Sketchup > Preferences… > Drawing].
SketchUp allows for the use of shortcut keys. This makes modeling more efficient. Go to Window > Preferences > Shortcuts on Windows, or [SketchUp > Preferences > Shortcuts on Mac] to assign shortcuts. Click your cursor into the Filter box and type in a relevant term like: hide. You will see a list of all menu commands that use the word hide. Select the command you want to assign, and in the Add box, type in a key, (or modifier(s) and a key). On Windows, you need to click on the Add button (the plus button) to add it to your shortcuts. On Mac, as soon as you type the shortcut, it is added to the program.
In addition to the default shortcut keys, you should also include the following:
tilde key (~)
Edit > Hide
Edit > Unhide Last
Edit > Make Group
Edit > Make Component...
Edit > Paste In Place
Edit > Select None
View > Component Edit > Hide Rest of Model
View > Component Edit > Hide Similar Components
View > Face Style > X-ray
View > Hidden Geometry
Camera > Zoom Extents
Context menu > Reverse Faces
These shortcuts are included based upon a proven workflow, but you can set these commands to any key combinations you find comfortable.
For similar tasks, group modifiers with the mnemonic key. So for example, if H hides the currently selected objects, Shift+H can show hidden geometry. If G creates a group object, Shift+G can make a component object (both make objects).
Finally, C is used for Hide Rest of Model and Hide Similar Components because it deals with Components (even though the default C is for Circle). The Shift and Shift+Alt modifiers allow the shortcut to be used simultaneously while holding Shift for inference locking.