System Preferences

SketchUp has additional settings you can use to tweak your system and make it more streamlined and efficient. Use the Preferences dialog to adjust these settings. System preferences do not travel with the model; they are local SketchUp settings that are the same for every model you open. You will need to adjust these settings on every computer you work on.

To access system preferences, click on the Window (SketchUp on a Mac) drop-down menu and choose Preferences. The only preferences covered in this lesson are the ones that make a difference.


The easiest way to draw in SketchUp is to use a three-button, scroll wheel mouse utilizing click-move-click. SketchUp’s default settings provide both the click-drag-release and click-move-click style of drawing. Change the Drawing settings to allow only Click-move-click and Continue line drawing. This will prevent you from clicking and dragging, which makes it easy to accidentally move objects by tiny increments or accidentally draw tiny, almost unnoticeable unwanted geometry.  Drawing style is a personal preference, so feel free to adjust to the one that works for you.


Within the General settings, make sure the Auto-save box is checked, and allow SketchUp to automatically save your model every 5 minutes. Auto-saving can take a long time if your model is large; however, by applying the model lightening techniques explained in this book, you will minimize that problem.

Creating a backup file is pretty much a necessity-just in case! A backup file is saved in the same folder as the original .skp file and given the extension .skb. In the rare event that a model becomes unusable, change the file extension of the backup from .skb to .skp, and you will be able to open the file in SketchUp. If you use a cloud file storage service (ie. Dropbox, Workdrive, Onedrive) you don’t need to create the .skb. These services offer version histrory.

HEADS UP!  SketchUp will not auto-save a new model until you have first saved it yourself.


Keyboard shortcuts allow you to access any SketchUp command with the press of a key. Use shortcuts to help you work faster and relieve a huge amount of strain on your eyes and mouse hand. Every time you take your eyes off your design, you slow down. Take the time to focus on your keyboarding technique and set up your own custom keyboard shortcuts.

Adding Shortcuts

Modify your keyboard shortcuts in the Preferences dialog box by clicking on the Window (SketchUp on a Mac) drop-down menu and choosing Preferences > Shortcuts

  1. Type a command, such as Hide, into the Filter window to parse through all the options and quickly find a command.
  2. Click on a command in the Function box-for example, Edit/Hide.
  3. Click in the Add Shortcut box and press the H key.
  4. Click on the plus sign (+) to lock in the assigned keyboard shortcut.

Now that you’ve assigned the keyboard shortcut H to the command Hide Geometry, the H key is taken; however, several helpful hide commands are left unassigned. You may have trouble remembering them if they don’t have an “H” associated with them. Fortunately, you can use combinations of modifier keys-Ctrl, Shift, and Alt-to add more shortcut options in the Add Shortcut text box. To assign a modifier key to a shortcut command, simply press and hold the modifier key while you enter the desired key in the text box. For example, to hide the rest of the model when you’re editing a group or component, assign the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+H.

DIG DEEPER…  Check out page 139 in “The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture” to add more helpful shortcuts, and learn how to export and import preferences to get your other computers set up quickly.