Setting Up SketchUp

SketchUp's interface is customizable. That means you can set up your workspace, including templates, toolbars, and shortcuts, in a way that best suits your workflows.


New SketchUp models start with a template. When you first open SketchUp, the Home page offers several template options to use when creating a new model. There are a variety of templates to choose from for both beginners and experienced users.

If you don't see a template that fits your needs on the Home page, click More templates to see a full list of default templates.

Creating a Custom Template

A custom template can help make sure that each model you create uses the right unit of measurement, is at the right scale for the work you need to do, and contains any standards you've developed like layers, scenes, and materials. To create a custom template:

  1. Start with the default Plan View template with the unit of measurement you wish to use.
  2. Draw a rectangle representing the size of items you will be modeling on the ground plane close to the axis origin.
  3. Activate Zoom Extents () and zoom the view to fill the screen.
  4. Paint any materials and colors you wish to incorporate in the template onto the rectangle one after another, overwriting each one in turn.
  5. Erase the rectangle.
  6. Create any Layers you wish to incorporate into your template.
  7. Adjust the Style settings.
  8. Save your new template by choosing Save As Template in the File menu. You can now give your template a unique name `and description and set the template as your default when creating new models.


SketchUp's tools are sorted into several toolbars. The Getting Started toolbar is the default toolbar seen when opening a new model. All other toolbars can be activated using Toolbars... in the View menu.

In Toolbars you can select which toolbars you'll see in SketchUp, In the Options tab you can choose to show screen tips on your active toolbars or to use large icons.

Once you've selected which toolbars you would like to use, you can then arrange them to best fit the way you work.

In the example below we've activated the Standard, Styles, Large Toolset, and Warehouse toolbars.


Shortcuts are a great way to model with efficiency. Many of SketchUp's tools and features already have default shortcuts assigned to them. For example, the default shortcut for the Rectangle tool is R.

To see what shortcuts are assigned or customize your shortcuts, click Preferences in the Window menu.

You can find a specific function by scrolling through the list or typing what you are looking for next to Filter. To customize the shortcut for a function:

  1. Select the command you would like to assign a shortcut to.
  2. Type the shortcut you want to use for that command in Add Shortcut.
  3. On Windows click the (+) next to Add Shortcut to add your shortcut. On iOS, the shortcut is assigned as soon as you finish typing.

Shortcut Tips and Suggestions

In addition to the default shortcut keys, you may want to also include the following shortcuts:

Shortcut Function
H Hide
U Unhide
G Edit/Make Group
Shift + G Make Component
Shift + P Paste In Place
~ Select None
Shift + C Hide Rest of Model
Shift + Alt + C Hide Similar Components
X X-Ray
Shift + H View Hidden Geometry
Shift + Z Zoom Extents
Q Reverse Faces

These shortcuts are included based upon a workflow that works well for us, but you can set these commands to any key combinations you find comfortable.

When defining a shortcut, use a mnemonic approach when possible. This method can help you remember what the shortcut does phonetically. For example, G would be good for Group because, in English, group starts with G. T for Transparency describes what you're viewing, but X (X-ray) would be more literal because x-ray is the name of the SketchUp display mode. You can also use a mnemonic approach for similar tasks. 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).

Customizing SketchUp

For even more ways to customize SketchUp to match the way you work, see Customizing SketchUp.