This post’s video tutorial features a list of my standard SketchUp beginner tips and tricks. SketchUp has much more functionality (see my book to learn about the rest!) but these ten tips will get you started with SketchUp for desktop, web, or iPad and clear up some typical confusions.

New to SketchUp? Give the free web app at a try. Happy SketchUpping!

What are good “next steps” after these first steps? I would recommend working through Chapter 2 in my book, which features a great refresher exercise.

Tutorial Video

My Top 10 SketchUp Tips

This list shows my key tips. Watch the video for further detail.

Tip 1: Toolbars and the Large Tool Set

The first thing I do in SketchUp is set up my workspace to my liking. This includes turning toolbars on and off and arranging them on your screen.

Tip 2: Understanding units in SketchUp

It is important to understand the unit system (“inch is default”) and the various ways to enter precise values and units in SketchUp. This even includes using mixed-unit values.

Tip 3: Drawing precisely in SketchUp

Yes, it is very possible – and indeed very necessary – to draw precisely in SketchUp. From value entry to guidelines, there are many ways to do that.

Tip 4: Inferences and the Shift lock

Often, we can model in reference to something else (geometry, planes, directions) and SketchUp’s inferencing system is one of its best tools for that. Make sure you understand how to use it.

Tip 5: Selecting things in your model

You will always need to select something in SketchUp. Make sure you understand the various ways to do that.

Tip 6: Groups and components

Make this a rule: “Once something is an object in SketchUp, make it a group or a component”. You’ll thank me later.

Tip 7: Keyboard shortcuts

Learn the many keyboard shortcuts to make your work faster: R, L, spacebar,…. You can even set up custom keyboard shortcuts for tools that don’t have any.

Tip 8: Tags

Organize your work in SketchUp’s model space by using tags.

Tip 9: Applying materials

Materials are easy to apply and look great in SketchUp. But you need to make sure you understand how to apply them correctly.

Tip 10: The Instructor panel

Need help? A beginner’s best friend is the Instructor panel at the side of SketchUp’s workspace.

Got any other tips and tricks that are critical to your workflow? Feel free to add those in the comments below.

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