Using the Outliner in Google SketchUp 8 - dummies

Using the Outliner in Google SketchUp 8

By Aidan Chopra

The Google SketchUp Outliner is a dialog box that’s basically a fancy list of all the groups and components in your SketchUp model. It shows you which groups and components are nested inside other ones, lets you assign names for them, and gives you an easy way to hide parts of your model that you don’t want to see. If you use a lot of components (and you should), the Outliner may well become your new best friend.

You can open the Outliner dialog box by choosing Window, Outliner, and it has the following features:


  • Search filter box: If you type a word or phrase into this box, the Outliner shows only the items in your model that include that word or phrase in their names. If you were to type coffee, only the coffee table component would be visible.

  • Outliner Options flyout menu: This handy little menu contains three options:

    • Expand All: Choose this option to have the Outliner show all the nested groups and components in your model (provided they’re on visible layers).

    • Collapse All: This option collapses your Outliner view so that you see only top-level groups and components — ones that aren’t nested inside other groups and components.

    • Sort by Name: Select this option to make the Outliner list the groups and components in your model alphabetically.

  • Outliner List window: All the groups and components in your model are listed here. Groups and components that have nested groups and components inside them have an Expand/Collapse toggle arrow next to their names. When they’re expanded, the constituent groups and components appear as an indented list below them.

If you use lots of groups and components (and you should), having the Outliner open onscreen is one of the best things you can do to model efficiently.

Here’s why:

  • Use the Outliner to control visibility. Instead of right-clicking groups and components in your model to hide them, use the Outliner instead. Just right-click the name of any element in the Outliner and choose Hide. When you do, the element is hidden in your modeling window, and its name is grayed out and italicized in the Outliner. To unhide it, just right-click its name in the Outliner and choose Unhide.

  • Drag and drop elements in the Outliner to change their nesting order. Don’t like having the component you just created nested inside another component? Simply drag its name in the Outliner to the top of the list. This moves the component to the top level, meaning that it’s not embedded in anything. You can also use the Outliner to drag groups and components into other ones, too.

  • Find and select things using the Outliner. Selecting something in the Outliner highlights that something’s name and selects it in your modeling window. This is a much easier way to select nested groups and components, especially if you’re working with a complex model.