SketchUp Menu by Menu: Appendix B - Google Sketchup: The Missing Manual

by Chris Grover

Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual gives you all the details, explanations, and examples you need to create awesome 3-D models in SketchUp. This appendix provides quick thumbnail descriptions of every command in every menu.

Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual book cover

This excerpt is from Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual . Filled with step-by-step tutorials that will have you creating detailed 3-D objects quickly, Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual offers crystal-clear instructions for using every feature. You'll learn to use the basic tools, build and animate models, and place objects in Google Earth, with lots of real-world examples to show you how it's done.

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Many of the menu commands have multiple keyboard shortcuts. Each command in this list shows the available shortcuts for Windows and Mac systems. When more than one command is available, they're separated by a semicolon (;).


The File menu commands work on your SketchUp documents as a whole. Use the File menu for major events like starting a new project, opening a file you created previously, and shutting down SketchUp when you're finished working.


Windows: Ctrl+N

Mac: ⌘-N

The New command opens a new SketchUp document, the proverbial clean slate. On Windows computers if you have a document already open, SketchUp prompts you to save the current document before opening a new one. If you need to open more than one SketchUp document in Windows, start SketchUp a second time and then open the second file. Macs let you open more than one document at a time by simply creating new windows.


Windows: Ctrl+O

Mac: ⌘-O

Opens the standard window where you can navigate through your folders and open SketchUp files. Use Open to quickly find and open SketchUp documents. See New for ways to open more than one SketchUp document at a time. The techniques are different for Windows and Mac.

Open Recent (Mac)

Displays a submenu that lists SketchUp files that were recently opened. Click any file to reopen it. (For Windows, see Recent Files.)


Windows: Ctrl+S

Mac: ⌘-S

Saves the changes that you've made to your SketchUp document. In Windows, if you haven't made any changes in the document, the command is dimmed. If you haven't yet saved the document, the command is similar to Save As, next.

Save As

Mac: Shift-⌘-S

Saves the current document with a new name, or in a previous SketchUp file format such as SketchUp 5 or SketchUp 6. After choosing the command, you see a standard window where you can navigate to a different folder and type in a new name. When SketchUp is done saving, the document is still open, but has the new name.

Save a Copy As

Saves the current document with a new name similarly to Save As. When the save finishes, the current document is still open in SketchUp and has the original file name.


Discards any changes you made to the document since the last save. Revert is handy when you decide you've gone down the wrong path and just want things the way they were when you started.

Send to LayOut (SketchUp Pro Only)

Exports the current SketchUp document to the LayOut program (the section called “Workflow for a LayOut Project”). LayOut is only available in SketchUp Pro and provides features for producing detailed documents from SketchUp models.

3D Warehouse

Gives access to the 3D Warehouse, Google's web-based site where the SketchUp community can share models. Why reinvent the wheel when you can download it from the 3D Warehouse? At the warehouse, you find complete buildings and building components like doors and windows from major manufacturers. Furniture, appliances, and non-architectural models like cars, airplanes, and animals are also available. You may be surprised at what you'll find at the 3D Warehouse. Into Elvis Presley? You can download the Graceland mansion and models of Elvis himself.


Exports your SketchUp model to different 2-D and 3-D file formats. The 2-D formats—like JPG, TIFF, and PDF—create images based on the current view in the modeling window. The free SketchUp program only exports to one 3-D format: the .kmz file format used by Google Earth. SketchUp Pro exports to several other formats, including standard AutoCAD formats such as .dxf and .dwg. You can also use this command to export animations and section slices.


Imports 2-D and 3-D files into SketchUp for modeling, for Photo Match, or to use as raw material for creating a new SketchUp model.

Print Setup (Windows)

Opens the standard Windows Print Setup window, where you choose your printer, paper size, and page orientation.

Print Preview (Windows)

Leads to the Print Preview window, where you can adjust print settings including scale. Click OK to see a preview. From the Print Preview, you can print the image or return to SketchUp.

Page Setup (Mac)

Mac: Shift-⌘-P

Leads to a standard Mac panel where you set printer options including page size, page orientation, and the printing scale in percentage.

Document Setup (Mac)

Leads to a panel where you can adjust the print size and print scale for the document. Perspective view cannot create scalable documents, so you must set the view to Parallel Projection (Camera → Parallel Projection).


Windows: Ctrl+P

Mac: ⌘-P

Displays the standard Print window, where you choose a printer and the number of copies you wish to print.

Generate Report (SketchUp Pro Only)

Creates an attribute report for Dynamic components.

Recent Files (Windows only)

Mac: ⌘-P

Windows computers display a list of recently opened SketchUp documents on the File menu. To open a document, click the name.


Windows: Alt+F4

Mac: ⌘-Q (found on the SketchUp menu)

Stops the program and then closes the SketchUp window. If documents are open, SketchUp closes them. If documents are unsaved, the program prompts you to save them before quitting.

SketchUp Menu (Mac Only)

Mac programs have a standard menu under the program name. These menus access basic services and preferences.

About SketchUp

Displays a box that lists the version number for SketchUp and web links to help and license details.

License (SketchUp Pro)

Displays license details for SketchUp Pro. This option is grayed out on the free version of SketchUp.

Check Web for Update

Checks the Google SketchUp website to determine if you're running the most recent version of SketchUp. A window displays the search results.


Leads to standard Mac services like Finder, Disk Utility, and Font Book. You can customize the options on this list through the Mac operating system.

Hide SketchUp


Hides the SketchUp menu and window so you can view other objects on your computer desktop.

Hide Others

Option, ⌘-H

Hides all programs except SketchUp.

Show All

Displays the windows of all currently running programs.

Quit SketchUp


Stops the program and then closes the SketchUp window. If documents are open, SketchUp closes them. If documents are unsaved, the program prompts you to save them before quitting.


This menu holds the standard Cut, Copy, and Paste commands as well as several specific commands that work with SketchUp components and groups.


Windows: Ctrl+Z

Mac: ⌘-Z

This command undoes the last command you applied. So if you accidentally delete an edge or face in the modeling window, the Undo command brings it back like magic. Remember Undo for those moments when you smack your head and say "Oh no! Why'd I do that?" SketchUp keeps track of your actions sequentially, so you can use multiple Undo commands to backtrack through your recent actions. Most actions can be undone, but a few—like the deletion of a scene—can't be undone.


Windows: Ctrl+Y

Mac: Shift-⌘-Z

Redo lets you undo an Undo command. If you undo an action or a command and then decide that you preferred it before the Undo, use the Redo command to get back to square one. You can use multiple Undos and Redos to move back and forth through your recent SketchUp activities.


Windows: Ctrl+X

Mac: ⌘-X

Removes the selected entity (or entities) from the modeling window, and places a copy of it on your computer's Clipboard. Once it's on the Clipboard, you can paste it back into the modeling window.


The term entity refers to any selectable object in SketchUp. An entity can be a single edge, a face, or a complex group or component.


Windows: Ctrl+C

Mac: ⌘-C

Copies a selected entity (or entities) and places the copy on the Clipboard. The original entity stays in place. Using this command, you can copy and paste entities from one SketchUp document into another.


Windows: Ctrl+V

Mac: ⌘-V

Attaches a copy of an entity (or entities) stored on the Clipboard to the Move tool. Click a location to paste the entity in the modeling window. If you decide not to complete the paste action, press Esc or choose another tool.

Paste In Place

Pastes a copy of entities on the Clipboard back into position using the same XYZ coordinates as the original. This command is particularly useful for moving entities into or out of groups and components.


Windows: Delete

Mac: Delete

Removes selected entities from the modeling window. Unlike Cut, Delete doesn't put the entity on the Clipboard, and you can't paste it back into the window.


You can use Undo immediately after Delete to bring back something you deleted.

Delete Guides

Guides are dashed lines used for measurement and alignment. When you're ready to create an animation or to print images from your model, you can use this command to remove the guide lines.

Select All

Windows: Ctrl+A

Mac: ⌘-A

Selects all entities in the modeling window.

Select None

Windows: Ctrl+T

Mac: Shift-⌘-A

Removes the selection from all currently selected objects. SketchUp builders often simply click an empty space in the modeling window to deselect everything. Use Select None to make absolutely sure nothing is selected.


Mac: ⌘-E

Hides any selected entities from view in the modeling window. This command doesn't erase or delete the entities; you can make them visible with the Unhide command (next).


Makes hidden entities visible again. (See the previous command.) So how do you see and select a hidden object? If it's a group or a component, you can use the Outliner to select the hidden object. Otherwise you can use the View → Hidden Geometry command to make entities visible and selectable. They're still considered hidden until you use the Unhide command. The Unhide command has three submenu options:

Unhide → Selected

Unhides entities that are selected using one of the techniques described in the previous paragraph.

Unhide → Last

Unhides the last entity that was hidden. The entity doesn't have to be selected.

Unhide → All

Mac: Shift-⌘-E

Unhides all the hidden entities in the modeling window. The entities don't have to be selected.


Locks groups and components. You can't move locked groups and components until you unlock them (next).


Unlocks groups and components that have been locked using Lock (previous).

Make Component

Windows: G

Mac: Shift-⌘-G

Collects the selected entities and saves them in a SketchUp component. Components appear in the Components window, and you replicate them by creating new instances. All instances created from a single component are identical. (See the section called “Creating a Group” for more detail on groups and components.)

Make Group

Mac: ⌘-G

Saves the collected entities in a group. Groups don't appear in the Components window. (See the section called “Creating a Group” for more on groups and components.)

Close Group/Component

Mac: Ctrl-Shift-⌘-G

Closes an open group or component. (Groups and components must be opened—by double-clicking, for example—to be edited.)


In SketchUp, entities (like a rectangle and a cone) can pass through each other without cutting through any of the other faces. Unlike in the real world, they can occupy the same face. When you want to change that behavior, you create shared edges by using the Intersect commands. The way faces and entities intersect with each other is important in SketchUp: It determines the way the entities behave and the way they can be manipulated. The Intersect command automates the process of creating shared edges. To use the Intersect commands, select an entity and then choose one of the three submenu options:

Intersect With Model

Creates intersections where other entities overlap the current selection.

Intersect With Selected Only

Creates intersections among the entities included in the selection.

Intersect With Context

Creates intersections between two entities within the current context (in the same group or component) and excludes entities outside of the context.

No Selection/Entity/Group/Component

This menu and its submenu options show commands related to the currently selected entities. You can see many of these same options in a shortcut menu by right-clicking selected entities. If a single face or edge is selected, the name on the menu changes to "edge" or "face". If several edges and faces are selected (but aren't in a group or component), you see something like "5 Entities". When a group or component is selected, you see "group" or "component" as the menu name. The options displayed in the submenu change depending on the selection.

Edge → Select

Selects other entities with another submenu showing these options: Connected Faces, All Connected, or "All on Same Layer".

Edge → Soften

Smoothes the angles formed where faces meet at an edge.

Edge → Divide

Divides a single edge into multiple edges. After selecting the command, type a number and press Enter (Return on a Mac).

Edge → Zoom Extents

Changes the view so the selected edge fills the modeling window and is entirely within the window.

Face → Select

Selects other entities with another submenu showing these options: Bounding Edges, Connected Faces, All Connected, "All on Same Layer", and "All with Same Material".

Face → Area

Using submenus, this command calculates the surface area covered by a face, covered by a specific material, or in the current layer. The result appears in the Measurements toolbar.

Face → Intersect

Creates intersections between the face and other entities in the model. For more on intersections see the section called “Intersections in 3-D Objects”.

Face → Align View

Aligns the SketchUp camera to point toward the currently selected face.

Face → Align Axes

Repositions the axes relative to the selected face.

Face → Reverse Faces

Reverses the inside/outside orientation of the faces. Using the standard face colors, white faces (front faces) become blue, and blue faces (back faces) become white.

Face → Orient Faces

Changes the orientation of several faces to match the selection. SketchUp does a little guessing here to try and decide how you want the faces oriented. Often it works just right. When it doesn't, you can always use Undo and orient the faces one by one using Reverse Faces.

Face → Zoom Extents

Changes the view so the selected face fills the modeling window and is entirely within the window.

Group → Edit Group

Opens a group for editing.

Group → Explode

Changes the entities in the selected group to individual entities no longer grouped.

Group → Make Component

Turns a group into a component, with all the features of a component.

Group → Unglue

Frees a group from being glued to another face in your model.

Group → Reset Scale

Changes a group that you've scaled back to its original proportions.

Group → Reset Skew

Changes a group that you've skewed back to its original proportions.

Group → Intersect

Creates intersections between the group and other entities in the model. For more on intersections see the section called “Intersections in 3-D Objects”.

Group → Flip Along

Flips a group along a selected axis (red, blue, or green). Flipping doesn't create a mirror image of the group.

Group → Zoom Extents

Changes the view so the selected group fills the modeling window and is entirely within the window.

Component → Edit Component

Opens a component for editing. Any changes made affect all other instances of the component.

Component → Make Unique

Makes a single instance of a component into a new, separate component. The original component otherwise remains unchanged.

Component → Explode

Makes the entities in a component into separate entities, no longer contained in the component. The original component is still in the Components window.

Component → Unglue

Frees a component from being glued to another face in your model.

Component → Reload

Updates the currently selected component with a version saved in your computer's file system.

Component → Save As

Saves a component as a new SketchUp document under a different name. (You can also load any SketchUp document into any other SketchUp document as a component; see the section called “Saving Components for Reuse”.)

Component → Change Axes

Redefines the origin of the axes in the selected component. Other 3-D programs sometimes refer to this as the local coordinate system. You can use this command to align the component's bounding box with the component's geometry, which helps prevent entities from skewing awkwardly when scaled.

Component → Reset Scale

Changes back a component that you've scaled to its original proportions.

Component → Reset Skew

Changes back a component that you've skewed to its original proportions.

Component → Scale Definition

If the selected component has been scaled, choosing this option makes that scale the correct scale for all instances of the component. Other instances won't change in size, but they will have the option to Reset Scale. SketchUp uses the newly defined scale definition for the reset.

Component → Intersect

Creates intersections between the component and other entities in the model. For more on intersections see the section called “Intersections in 3-D Objects”.

Component → Flip Along

Flips a component along a selected axis (red, blue, or green). Flipping isn't the same as creating a mirror image of the group.

Component → Soften/Smooth Edges

Smoothes the edges adjoining two surfaces, making those two surfaces look like a single curved surface. Opens the Soften Edges window, where you can adjust the angle setting.

Component → Zoom Extents

Changes the view so the selected component fills the modeling window and is entirely within the window.

Component → Dynamic Components

Opens the Component Options box for Dynamic Components.

Special Characters (Mac Only)

Mac: Option-⌘-T

Opens a window with special characters like arrow and math symbols, which you can use with SketchUp's 3D text tool.


Commands on the View menu mostly let you show and hide different features in the modeling window. (The options that manage the angle and orientation of your view of the modeling window are under the Camera menu.)

Toolbars (Mac: Tool Palettes)

Shows and hides tool palettes. Windows and Mac handle tool palettes differently. In Windows, this menu manages all tool options. Windows toolbars can be docked or floating. To move toolbars, drag the handle on the left side. Use the Large Buttons option to change the size of the button on all the toolbars. PC toolbars include Getting Started, Large Tool Set, Camera, Construction, Drawing, Face Style, Google, Layers, Measurements, Modification, Principal, Sections, Shadows, View, Walkthrough, and Dynamic Components.

On this menu, a Mac has three toolbars that you can show or hide: Large Tool Set, Google, and Dynamic Components.


Mac tools are customized primarily using the Customize Toolbar command (the section called “For Mac”).

Scene Tabs

Shows and hides scene tabs that appear at the top of the modeling window.

Hidden Geometry

Shows and hides entities that you've hidden using the Edit → Hide command. This command also shows additional geometry in some entities like smoothed surfaces.

Section Planes

Shows and hides the section plane used to create section cuts.

Section Cuts

Shows and hides section cuts in the modeling window.


Shows and hides the red, green, and blue axes.


Shows and hides the guides you place in your model as references.


Shows and hides shadow effects.


Shows and hides fog effects.

Edge Style

The Edge Style view options show and hide different visual effects applied to edges.

Edge Style → Display Edges

Shows and hides edges in the model.

Edge Style → Profiles

Shows and hides the visual effect that increases the thickness of some edges to enhance the three-dimensional appearance of models.

Edge Style → Depth Cue

Shows and hides a visual effect that changes line thickness depending on the distance from the camera.

Edge Style → Extension

A sketchy (the section called “Changing Edge Styles”) visual effect that extends lines slightly beyond their endpoints, making the model look hand drawn.

Face Style

Changes the appearance of faces in your model. These options are also available on the Face Style toolbar, which is usually a more convenient way to access them.

Face Style → X-ray

Changes the transparency of faces so you can see through your model. This option toggles on and off and can work in combination with any of the other face styles.

Face Style → Wireframe

Hides faces, leaving only edges visible.

Face Style → Hidden Line

Displays faces in the model without any shading or textures.

Face Style → Shaded

Faces display material but not textures.

Face Style → Shaded With Textures

Faces display both material and textures.

Face Style → Monochrome

Displays faces without material effects using the default material—usually white for front faces and blue for back faces.

Component Edit

Displays and hides model entities relative to the selected component.

Component Edit → Hide Rest of Model

Displays the selected component, but hides the other entities in the modeling window.

Component Edit → Hide Similar Components

Hides other instances of the selected component. This command comes in handy when you're working on an array of components and need a less cluttered view.


Controls features related to scenes and animations.

Animation → Add Scene

Mac: Option-⌘-+

Adds a new scene to the SketchUp document.

Animation → Update Scene

Mac: Option-⌘-

Updates the scene to match the current view.

Animation → Delete Scene

Deletes the selected scene.

Animation → Previous Scene

Windows: Page Up

Moves to the previous scene.

Animation → Next Scene

Windows: Page Down

Moves to the next scene.

Animation → Play

Plays the animation.

Animation → Settings

Opens the animation settings in the Model Info window.

Hide Toolbar (Mac Only)

Hides the Mac toolbar at the top of the modeling window.

Customize Toolbar (Mac Only)

Used to display and hide specific tools in the Mac toolbar above the modeling window. In Windows, the Tool Palettes command (the section called “For Windows”) performs similar functions.


In SketchUp, you view through a camera the three-dimensional world where your model lives. Most of the commands on this menu set the position and properties of that camera.


Changes the camera position and view to the immediately previous setup. You can use Previous multiple times to step back through different views of your model. Keep in mind, this isn't an Undo command, so your model doesn't change as you step back, just your angle of view.


Used after using the Previous tool. Permits you to move forward again through your camera views.

Standard Views

Lets you repostion the camera through which you view your model.

Standard View → Top

Mac: ⌘-1

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the top.

Standard View → Bottom

Mac: ⌘-2

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the bottom.

Standard View → Front

Mac: ⌘-3

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the front.

Standard View → Back

Mac: ⌘-4

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the back.

Standard View → Left

Mac: ⌘-5

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the left.

Standard View → Right

Mac: ⌘-6

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from the right.

Standard View → Iso

Mac: ⌘-7

Changes the camera to view the modeling window from an angle.

Parallel Projection

Changes the camera to view the modeling window without the converging lines of the perspective views. This view can help with some alignment chores. In other cases it can be confusing. In general the perspective views provide a better sense of three dimensions and distance.


Creates a view where an object in the distance appears smaller than objects close to the camera. SketchUp uses three-point perspective unless you tell it otherwise (next).

Two-Point Perspective

Creates a view using two-point perspective, which has two vanishing points instead of SketchUp's standard three-point perspective. This type of view is similar to view cameras or lenses that correct parallax problems. While in two-point perspective view you can use the Pan tool to change the view; however, if you use the Orbit tool, the view changes back to Perspective.

Match New Photo

Opens a file browser window so you can bring a photo into SketchUp for photo-matching; the Edit Matched Photo tools become available. Photo matching makes it easier to create an accurate model from a photograph. For details, see Chapter 10, Matching Your Photos in SketchUp.

Edit Matched Photo

Puts SketchUp in Photo Matching mode, giving you the tools to adjust the modeling window so you can accurately create a model from a photograph.


Windows: O

Mac: O; ⌘-B

Mouse shortcut: Drag while pressing the middle mouse button.

A camera movement tool that lets you move around the 3-D modeling space in any direction. This tool is very useful for readjusting your angle of view.


Windows: H

Mac: H; ⌘-R

Mouse shortcut: Press Shift as you drag with the middle mouse button.

Displays a hand cursor that lets you drag the view of the modeling window to change your view. Unlike a cinematic pan, where the camera pivots on a tripod, this command actually changes the camera position.


Windows: Z

Mac: Z; ⌘-\

Mouse shortcut: Press Ctrl as you drag with the middle mouse button.

Like the zoom lens on a camera, it gives you a closer or more distant view in the modeling window.


The Zoom metaphor doesn't entirely hold up. The Zoom tools actually move the camera position; they don't change the field of view, which is what a camera's zoom lens does (for that, see the next command). Martin Scorsese would have named this command "dolly."

Field of View

The field of view is an angle measurement in degrees that describes how much or how little of the modeling window the camera sees. You can use degrees (deg), where larger numbers equal a greater view, or millimeters (mm) for camera lens size, where larger numbers produce a narrower view. Choose this command and SketchUp displays the field of view in the Measurements toolbar. You can then type a new measurement—like 30 deg or 50mm—to change the field of view.

Zoom Window

Windows: Ctrl+Shift+W

Mac: ⌘-]

After choosing this command, drag a rectangular window on screen. SketchUp changes the modeling window view to fit the area you mark.

Zoom Extents

Windows: Ctrl+Shift+E

Mac: ⌘-[

When chosen from the camera menu, Zoom Extents changes the view to comfortably fit all the entities in the modeling window, which is great for returning to a familiar view when you get lost in your model (the section called “Introducing the Blue Axis”). When chosen from a shortcut (right-click) menu, Zoom Extents fills the modeling window with the selected entities, helping you to quickly focus on a specific entity.

Zoom to Photo

If you've applied a photo to a scene's background as part of a Match Photo session, this zooms the view until the photo fits entirely within the view.

Position Camera

After choosing this command, click a surface or the SketchUp ground plane to position the camera in a specific location.


Mac: ⌘-, (comma)

Lets you manually move the camera through your model (the section called “Looking Around”).

Look Around

Mac: ⌘-. (period)

Use this command to pivot the camera horizontally and vertically around a single point; it does the same thing as panning and tilting in motion picture lingo.


Commands in the Draw menu fire up SketchUp's basic drawing tools. Most of these tools use SketchUp's click-move-click drawing method. They also let you use the Measurements toolbar to draw with great accuracy (the section called “A Tour of SketchUp's Main Window”).


Windows: L

Mac: L; ⌘-L

Activates the Line tool. To draw lines, click the starting point, and then move the cursor and click the ending point.


Windows: A

Mac: A; ⌘-J

Activates the Arc tool. To draw arcs, click to create one starting point, then move the cursor, and click to set the ending point for the line. Then click a third time to create the curve of the arc.


Mac: ⌘-F

Activates the Freehand tool used for drawing irregular lines. The Freehand tool is one of a few tools you drag. To use the Freehand tool, press the mouse button as you trace a line in the modeling window.


Windows: R

Mac: R; ⌘-K

Activates the Rectangle tool. To draw a rectangle, click to set one corner of the rectangle, and then click again to set the opposite corner.


Windows: C

Mac: C

Activates the Circle tool. To draw a circle, click to set the center of the circle, and then click to set a point at the edge of the circle.


Mac: ⌘-;

Activates the Polygon tool. To create a Polygon, click to set a point for the center, and then click to set a point on the edge of the polygon. To set the number of sides, type the number of sides followed immediately by the letter s. For example, 3s for a triangle; 8s for an octagon. After selecting the Polygon tool, you can type the number of sides before or immediately after creating the polygon.


Sandbox tools let you model terrain and other organic shapes in SketchUp. The design element used to create these shapes is referred to as a TIN or triangulated irregular network.


To activate the sandbox tools, go to Window → Preferences → Extensions (SketchUp → Preferences → Extensions) and turn on the Sandbox Tools checkbox.

Sandbox → From Contours

Use From Contours to create a TIN from the contours formed by SketchUp edges. Most often, these edges are created by using the Freehand tool.

From → Scratch

Creates a flat triangulated TIN that you can sculpt using sandbox tools such as the Smoove tool (Tools → Sandbox → Smoove).


The Tools menu holds most of the non-drawing tools, including the basic Select, Move, Rotate, and Scale tools. You also find some of the tools that make SketchUp unique, such as the Push/Pull, Follow Me, and Offset tools. Several of these tools use the Measurements toolbar (the section called “A Tour of SketchUp's Main Window”) to perform their tasks with accuracy.


Windows: Space bar

Mac: Space bar; ⌘-/

Activates the Select tool (and generally ends the operation of other SketchUp tools). Often you must select a SketchUp entity before using other tools or commands. For example, you must select several lines and edges (entities) before making a group or component. Click an entity once to select it. Click twice to select the entity and the other entities immediately touching it. Click three times to select the entity and all the entities that are connected to it by edges and faces.


You can drag to make a selection, but keep in mind that the Select tool behaves differently depending on whether you drag it to the left or to the right (the section called “Speeding Up Construction with Arrays”). Drag to the right and the Select tool selects entities that are completely within the selection window. Drag to the left to select every entity that is partially within the selection window.


Windows: E

Mac: E

Activates the Eraser tool (the section called “Erasing Lines and Surfaces”). Click entities to erase them, or drag to erase several entities at a time. To hide an edge, press Shift while clicking the edge. To soften an edge (making the angle less acute), press Ctrl (Option on a Mac) while clicking the edge.

Paint Bucket

Windows: B

Mac: B

Activates the Paint Bucket tool (think B for bucket). Choose colors and textures from the Materials window (Windows → Materials); then click a face to paint it (the section called “Applying Colors and Materials (Windows)”). Press Alt (⌘ on a Mac), and the bucket turns into an eyedropper. Click the eyedropper on faces with color or materials to load the Paint Bucket tool with the color or material.


Windows: M

Mac: M; ⌘-0

Activates the Move tool (the section called “Moving, Copying, and Deleting Components”). Move edges, faces, groups, or components using the click-move-click method. Click an entity, and it becomes attached to the cursor. Move to a new location, and click to place the entity. You can also use the Move tool to rotate groups and components. Hold the Move tool over a group or component, and red crosses appear at certain locations. Hold the cursor over a cross, and it displays the Rotate cursor. Rotate the object using the techniques described for the Rotate command (next). Toggle the Ctrl key (Option on a Mac) to put the Move tool in copy mode. The original entity remains in place; a copy of the entity is moved to the new location. You can move an entity with precision by clicking the entity with the Move tool and then typing a distance. The distance with a measurement, such as 4', appears in the Measurements toolbar. Press Enter (Return), and the entity moves the specified distance.


Windows: Q

Mac: Q; ⌘-8

Activates the Rotate tool (the section called “Rotating an Object”). The cursor looks like a protractor and determines the plane of rotation. To rotate entities, click one point, and the cursor displays a rubber band line; click another point to set a temporary line. Then as you move the cursor, the entity rotates around the first point you clicked. Click a third and final time to complete the rotation. Toggle the Ctrl key (Option on a Mac) to put the Rotate tool in copy mode. The original entity remains in place; you rotate a copy of the entity into position.


Windows: S

Mac: S; ⌘-9

Activates the Scale tool. Click an entity, and a bounding box with handles appears around the entity. Hold the Scale cursor over one of the handles, and a tooltip appears explaining the effect of dragging that particular handle. For example, a message may say "Blue Scale About Opposite Point", meaning the object will be scaled along the blue axis.


Windows: P

Mac: P; ⌘-=

Activates the Push/Pull tool, which is used to extrude faces into three-dimensional objects. Click a face and then move the cursor perpendicular to the surface. You can also type a dimension to extrude a face with precision. For example, type 4' after clicking a face, and the face is extruded 4 feet.

Follow Me

Activates the Follow Me tool, which extrudes a profile along a path. Select the path first, and then click the face or profile to extrude.


Windows: F

Mac: F; ⌘- –(hyphen)

Activates the Offset tool, which is used to offset the edges of a face (the section called “Using the Offset Tool”). For example, the Offset tool lets you create a perfectly proportioned rectangle inside of another rectangle with just two clicks. Click the edge that you want to offset, and then move the cursor and click again. The original edge remains in place and a duplicate appears at the point of the second click.

Tape Measure

Windows: T

Mac: T

Activates the Tape Measure tool, which is used both for measuring distances and for setting guides in your modeling window (the section called “Making Construction Lines”). To measure, click a point, move the cursor, and then click a second point. The distance appears in the Measurements toolbar. To create a guide, click an edge or face in the modeling window, move the cursor to a new location, and click again. A guide appears as a dashed line in the modeling window. Use Ctrl (Option) to toggle Guide mode on and off. Erase individual guide lines using the Eraser tool. Choose Edit → Delete Guides to remove all the guides in your document. To hide guides temporarily, go to View → Guides.


Use the Protractor tool to measure angles and create guides based on angles. The process requires three clicks. The first click sets the intersection of the angle, a second click defines one line, and the third click defines the second line. The measurement is shown in degrees in the Measurements toolbar. You can also use the protractor to create guides. The Ctrl (Option) key toggles Guide mode on and off. Erase individual guide lines by using the Eraser tool. Choose Edit → Delete Guides to remove all the guides in your document. To hide guides temporarily, go to View → Guides.


Use the Axes command to reposition the Origin in the modeling window and to change the alignment of the three axes. The Origin is the point where the red, blue, and green axes meet. After choosing the command, click a location in the modeling window to move the Origin to the new point.


Activates the Dimensions tool, which lets you place dimension marks and labels in your document. To display the dimension of an edge, click the edge (avoiding mid- and endpoints), and then move the cursor perpendicular to the edge. Dimension text and marks appear; click to set their position. To make other measurements, click to set one point, and then click again to set a second point. Move the cursor away from the line created to position the dimension lines and text. You can change typeface, size, and marker styles by choosing Window → Model Info → Text.


Activates the Text tool. Click the Text tool in the modeling window to place a text box. Type the text you want. To edit previously placed text, double-click the text. You can reposition text using the Move tool. Text isn't placed in the 3-D world—it's as if you placed it on the camera lens. For example, text remains in the same position in the modeling window even when you use tools such as Orbit and Pan. To place text in the context of the 3-D world, use the 3D Text tool described next.

3D Text

Opens the Place 3D Text window. Type the text you want, and use the settings to choose a typeface and to format the text. Click Place to close the window when you're done, and then click in your modeling window to place the text. The block of text is a component listed in the Components window (Windows → Component). You can manipulate text in the modeling window using the standard tools such as Move and Rotate.

Section Plane

Mac: ⌘-Y

Used to create cutaway views of your model. Objects on one side of the plane are hidden. Click a point in your model to create a section plane (the section called “View Cross-Sections with Section Planes”). You can reposition section planes using the Move and Rotate tools.

Google Earth

The Google Earth commands help you coordinate your SketchUp modeling activities with Google Earth tools.

Get Current View

Moves a Google Earth image into SketchUp. The most common use of this command is to position a model accurately in terms of latitude and longitude. SketchUp imports a black-and-white copy of the Google image and orients it so that the green axis line points north.

Toggle Terrain

Displays an image as terrain and indicates the elevations, after you import a Google Earth image into SketchUp.

Place Model

Sends your model to Google Earth by creating a temporary file of your model and placing it in the proper location in Google Earth. You use this technique primarily while modeling (the section called “Exporting 3-D Images”). You can remove models from Google Earth by right-clicking the model name in the Places (or Temporary Places) folder and then choosing Delete.


Lets you manipulate dynamic models in SketchUp. For example, a door or window may open and close when you click it with the Interact tool.


Sandbox tools let you model terrain and other organic shapes inside of SketchUp. The design element used to create these shapes is referred to as a TIN or triangulated irregular network. TINs are automatically stored in groups, so you must double-click the shape before editing.

Sandbox → Smoove

Sculpts terrain or organic shapes formed by a TIN. The Smoove tool highlights the area to be changed. After activating the Smoove tool, you can adjust the area affected by the Smoove tool by typing a radius like 20'. The number appears in the Measurements toolbar, and the size of the highlight changes accordingly.

Sandbox → Stamp

Use the Stamp tool to create impressions on the TIN by "pressing" geometry into the surface.

Sandbox → Drape

Lets you project edges (lines) over the irregular surface of a TIN.

Sandbox → Add Detail

Subdivides certain areas of the TIN, made up of lots of small triangles, into even smaller triangles. You can then sculpt finer details. It also adds to the complexity of your SketchUp model.

Sandbox → Flip Edge

Lets you manually make adjustments to the TIN. It's particularly useful when unwanted flat areas appear in terrain developed from contour lines.


SketchUp's extensive Windows menu is used to open windows where you manage your model and its features like components, styles, layers, and scenes. You do a lot of your SketchUp project management and fine-tuning in some of these windows. The options under the Windows menu are slightly different in Windows and on a Mac.

Minimize (Mac Only)

Mac: ⌘-M

Hides the active SketchUp modeling window. You can show the window again by clicking its icon in the Dock.

Zoom (Mac Only)

Expands (or shrinks) the size of the SketchUp modeling window onscreen.

Model Info

Mac: Shift-⌘-I

Opens the Model Info window, where you can change settings related to your model. General categories for these settings are Animation, Components, Credits, Dimensions, File, Location, Rendering, Statistics, Text, and Units.

Entity Info

Mac: ⌘-I

Opens the Entity Info window, where you can change settings related to the selected entity. (An entity may be a single edge or face, a selection of edges and faces, or a group or complex component.) Use the Entity Info box to manage layers, show and hide entities, and manage shadow behavior. Entity Info is always available from a shortcut menu by right-clicking.


Mac: Shift-⌘-C

Opens the Materials window, where you manage and edit materials and colors that are applied to faces in your model.


Use the Components window to manage the components in your model. The Search feature gives you direct access to the 3D Warehouse (the section called “Placing Components in Your Model”), where you find thousands of SketchUp components that are ready to use. The Edit tab lets you change the alignment or glue-to settings for your components (the section called “Saving Components for Reuse”). The Statistics tab gives you a running list of the entities and elements inside of a component.


Opens the Styles window, where you manage the appearance of your SketchUp model. With a click of a button, you can dramatically change the appearance of the edges and faces in your model.


Layers (the section called “Working with Layers”) are a way to show and hide portions of your SketchUp model. The Layers window lets you add and remove layers and control their visibility.


Opens the Outliner, where you can manage your model's groups and components. The Outliner lets you name and create nested groups and components. It's also a handy way to find groups and components that have been hidden using the Hide command. You can access the shortcut menu for any group or component by right-clicking its name in the Outliner.


Use the Scenes window to create, update, and remove scenes from your document. By reordering scenes in the list, you can change their order in animations. You can save or update specific visual properties in your scenes such as camera location, hidden geometry, visible layers, section panes, style and fog, shadow settings, and axes location.

Show Fonts (Mac Only)

Mac: ⌘-T

Opens the standard Mac Fonts window used to specify typeface and font size.


Opens the Shadow Settings window used to show or hide shadows. You can use the Time and Date settings to control the angle of shadows. The Light and Dark slider controls let you fine-tune the appearance of shadows.


Opens the Fog window, where you can show or hide fog in the SketchUp modeling window. Settings in the window let you control the intensity and appearance of the fog effect.

Match Photo

Starts the Match Photo process (the section called “How Photo Match Works”), which lets you bring photos in the SketchUp modeling window and then arrange the view so you can accurately create a 3-D model using the photo for reference points.

Soften Edges

Changes the appearance and angle of the selected edges in your model.


Displays a few basic, animated tutorials for SketchUp.

Preferences (Windows Only)

In Windows, this option opens the Preferences window, where you can adjust some of the settings for SketchUp including the Template that SketchUp uses when it starts a new document. On the Mac, you find this information under SketchUp → Preferences. Other preferences include:

  • Location of files and libraries

  • Creation and timing of backups

  • Management of shortcut keys

  • Resolution of imported textures

  • Use of graphics card acceleration

  • Management of SketchUp extensions

  • Selection of an application to edit 2-D images

Hide Dialogs

Hides some of the open windows and dialog boxes. (Oddly, this doesn't seem to hide all of the open dialog boxes.)

Ruby Console

Opens the Ruby Console, used to create and load add-on programs for SketchUp—a topic not covered in this book.

Component Options

Displays, in the Component Options window, details related to dynamic components. Component developers may make some properties available to designers using the component (the section called “Exploring the Components Window”). For example, a fence component may let users change the height of the fence and the style of the fence boards.

Component Attributes (SketchUp Pro Only)

Opens the Component Attributes window, which displays spreadsheet-type settings that you use to develop dynamic components.

Bring All to Front (Mac Only)

Brings all open SketchUp windows to the foreground.

Model Windows by Name (Mac Only)

Displays the names of all the open modeling windows at the bottom of the Windows menu. This system lets you jump back and forth between models using menu commands.


All roads on the Help menu lead to Google one way or another. The most helpful option in the bunch is the Online Help Center.

Welcome to SketchUp

Opens the welcome window that you see when you first fire up SketchUp. Turn off the "Always show on startup" checkbox if you don't want to see the "Welcome to SketchUp" window every time you start SketchUp.

Help Center (Mac: Online Help Center)

Takes you to SketchUp's web-based help system (the section called “SketchUp Help Center”). The advantage of having this system on the Web is that Google can easily upgrade the help services. The disadvantage is that you must have an Internet connection to get to the help system. Online you find tutorials, videos, PDF documents, and user forums.

Contact Us

Opens a window where you can provide feedback to Google and get installation help. If you've purchased SketchUp Pro, you can receive technical support.

License (Windows Only)

Use the License menu options to activate and deactivate your SketchUp license. (On the Mac, you find this information under SketchUp → License.)

Check for Update (Windows Only)

Quickly searches the Web to see if a newer version of SketchUp is available. (On the Mac, you find this link under SketchUp → Check for Web Updates.)

About SketchUp (Windows Only)

The About window displays information about your version of SketchUp and a few links where you can get information, help, and license details. (On the Mac, you find this information under SketchUp → About SketchUp.)

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual .