By Aidan Chopra

Most graphics programs have a ton of little controller boxes that float around your screen, and SketchUp is no exception. After the dialog boxes are open, you can “dock” them together by moving them close to each other. Dialog boxes in SketchUp contain controls for all kinds of things; here are the ones that deserve special attention:

  • Preferences: Although the Model Info dialog box (see the next bullet point) contains settings for the SketchUp file you have open right now, the Preferences dialog box has controls for how SketchUp behaves — no matter what file you have open. Pay particular attention to the Shortcuts panel, where you can set up keyboard shortcuts for any tool or command in the program.

    On the Mac, the Preferences dialog box is on the SketchUp menu, which doesn’t exist in the Windows version of SketchUp.

    Some changes to the Preference settings don’t take effect until you open another file or restart SketchUp altogether, so don’t worry if you can’t see a difference right away.

  • Model Info: This dialog box is, to quote the bard, the mother of all dialog boxes. It has controls for everything under the sun; you should definitely open it and take your time going through it. Chances are, the next time you can’t find the setting you’re looking for, it’s in Model Info.

  • Entity Info: This little guy is small, but it shows information about entities — edges, faces, groups, components, and lots of other things — in your model. Keeping it open is a good idea because it helps you see what you’ve selected.

  • Instructor: The Instructor does only one thing: It shows you how to use whatever tool happens to be activated. While you’re discovering SketchUp, keep the Instructor dialog box open off to the side. You can also open it at any time by clicking the little ? icon in the status bar at the bottom of your screen.