How to Use the Measurements Box in Google SketchUp 8

The key to accuracy in SketchUp is the little text box that lives in the lower-right corner of your SketchUp window. This box is the Measurements box, and here are some things you can do with it:

  • Make a line a certain length.

  • Draw a rectangle a certain size.

  • Push/pull a face a certain distance.

  • Change the number of sides in a polygon.

  • Move something a given distance.

  • Rotate something by a certain number of degrees.

  • Make a certain number of copies.

  • Divide a line into a certain number of segments.

  • Change your field of view (how much you can see).

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Here’s what you need to know about the Measurements box:

  • You don’t have to click in the Measurements box to enter a number. SketchUp beginners often assume that they need to click in the Measurements box (to select it, presumably) before they can start typing. Just start typing, and whatever you type shows up in the box automatically. When being precise, SketchUp always “listens” for you to type something in this box.

  • The Measurements box is context-sensitive. What this box controls depends on what you happen to be doing at the time. If you’re drawing an edge with the Line tool, it knows that whatever you type is a length; if you’re rotating something, it knows to listen for an angle.

  • You the set the default units for the Measurements box in the Model Info dialog box. Perhaps you want a line you’re drawing to be 14 inches long. If inches are your default unit of measurement, just type 14 into the Measurements box and press Enter — SketchUp assumes that you mean 14 inches. If you want to draw something 14 feet long, type 14’, just to let SketchUp know that you mean feet instead of inches. You set the default units for the Measurements box in the Units panel of the Model Info dialog box (which is on the Window menu).

  • Sometimes, the Measurements box does more than one thing. In certain circumstances, you can change its mode (what it “listens for”) by typing a unit type after a number. For example, when you draw a circle, the default “value” in the Measurements box is the radius — if you type 6 and press Enter, you end up with a circle with a radius of 6 inches. But if you type 6s, you’re telling SketchUp that you want 6 sides (and not inches), so you end up with a circle with 6 sides.

  • The Measurements box lets you change your mind. As long as you don’t do anything after you press Enter, you can always type a new value and press Enter again; there’s no limit to the number of times you can change your mind.

  • You can use the Measurements box during an operation. In most cases, you can use the Measurements box to be precise while you’re using a tool.

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