SketchUp For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Like any 3-D modeling program, SketchUp offers different ways to do common tasks. In this Cheat Sheet, you'll find tips on the best way to use SketchUp tools and to boost your productivity. Keyboard shortcuts also enable you to work quickly and easily in SketchUp, so you'll uncover keyboard shortcuts for common tools.

3-D model created in SketchUp ©AIM Architects/

Modern architecture house interior created in SketchUp.

13 tips and techniques for using SketchUp

One of the best things about SketchUp is that you can use it to create 3-D models much more quickly than with other modeling programs. You can really turn up the speed on your creations with the following tips and techniques for using SketchUp tools.

To Do This Task Here’s the Best Way
Orbit with your mouse Hold down scroll wheel
Zoom with your mouse Roll scroll wheel
Pan with your mouse Hold down Shift and the scroll wheel
Draw an edge a certain length with the Line tool Type a length and press Enter
Snip off an edge at the last place you clicked Press the Esc key
Lock your current direction with the Line tool Hold down the Shift key while drawing with the tool
Change the number of sides in a circle, arc, or polygon Type a number, then type s, and press Enter
Draw a circle or an arc of a certain radius Type a radius and press Enter after you draw a circle
Select with the Select tool
Add or subtract from what you’ve selected Hold down Shift
Select everything that isn’t hidden Press Ctrl+A (Command+A on the Mac)
Select everything inside a selection box Click and drag from left to right
Select everything touched by a selection box Click and drag from right to left
Select all faces with the same material Right-click and choose Select→All with Same Material
Move with the Move tool
Move a certain distance Type a distance and press Enter after you move
Force Auto-Fold (tell SketchUp it’s okay to fold) Press Alt (Command on the Mac)
Lock yourself in the blue (up and down) direction Press the up arrow or down arrow key
Copy with the Move and Rotate tools
Make a copy with the Move or Rotate tools Press Ctrl (Option on the Mac)
Make multiple copies in a row Make a copy, type a distance, type x, and press
Make multiple copies between Make a copy, type a number, type /, and press Enter
Hide and Smooth with the Eraser tool
Hide something Hold down Shift and click with the Eraser
Smooth something Ctrl+click with the Eraser (Option+click on the Mac)
Unsmooth something Hold down Shift+Ctrl and click with the Eraser (Shift+Option on
the Mac)
Push/Pull and Offset
Make a copy of the face you’re push/pulling Press Ctrl (Option on the Mac) and use the Push/Pull tool
Repeat the last distance you push/pulled Double-click a face with the Push/Pull tool
Repeat the last distance you Offset Double-click a face with the Offset tool
Scale with the Scale tool
Scale about the center Hold down Ctrl (Option on the Mac) while scaling
Scale uniformly (don’t distort) Hold down Shift while scaling
Scale by a certain factor Type a number and press Enter
Make something a certain size Type the size and the units and then press Enter
Apply materials with the Paint Bucket tool
Sample a material from a face Hold down Alt (Command on the Mac) and click the face with the
Paint all faces that match the one you click Hold down Shift while you click
Create guides
Tell the Tape Measure or Protractor tool to create a guide Press Ctrl (Option on the Mac) and click with the tool
Walk around your model with the Walk tool
Walk through things Hold down Alt (Command on the Mac)
Run instead of walk Hold down Ctrl (Option on the Mac)
Get taller or shorter instead of walking Hold down Shift
Change your eye height Select the Look Around tool, type a height, and press
Change your field of view Select the Zoom tool, type a number, type deg, and press

3 timesaving techniques for using SketchUp

Creating a 3-D model takes time, but SketchUp makes it accessible and easy when compared to high-end modeling programs. As you create your models in SketchUp, you’ll come to appreciate the following timesaving techniques.

To divide an edge into a number of shorter edges:

  1. Right-click an edge with the Select tool.

  2. Choose Divide from the context menu that pops up.

  3. Type the number of segments you’d like and press Enter.

To resize your whole model based on one known measurement:

  1. Select the Tape Measure tool.

  2. Press Ctrl (Option on a Mac) until you don’t see a + next to your cursor.

  3. Measure a distance; click once to start measuring, and again to stop.

  4. Type a dimension for the distance you just measured and press Enter.

  5. Click Yes in the dialog box that pops up.

To set up your own keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Choose Window→Preferences (File→Preferences on the Mac).

  2. Click the Shortcuts panel.

13 keyboard shortcuts for common SketchUp tools

SketchUp offers keyboard shortcuts for the tools you use most often as you create models. To select the tool you want, simply press the letter that’s indicated in the following table.

Tool Shortcut Key
Line L
Eraser E
Select Spacebar
Move M
Circle C
Arc A
Rectangle R
Push/Pull P
Offset O
Rotate Q
Scale S
Zoom Extents Shift+Z
Paint Bucket B

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Bill Fane was a doorknob designer for many years. Then, in 1996, he began teaching mechanical design, including courses in AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks, and machine design. Having used AutoCAD since version 2.17g debuted in 1986, Bill lectured on a wide range of AutoCAD and Inventor subjects at Autodesk University from 1995 to 2012. He has written extensively for CADalyst magazine. Mark Harrison is a product manager for Trimble, Inc., the parent company for SketchUp, and a regular contributor to the SketchUp blog. Josh Reilly is a sales engineer with SketchUp and a contributor to the SketchUp blog.

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