SketchUp Tips: #1 Shortcuts

SketchUp is a 3D modeling program used by many designers as a way of quickly exploring simple and complex design projects.  Over the past 6 years, I have had the opportunity to become intimate with this program and now I would like to share some of that knowledge.  So for all you power users and novices of SketchUp, this is an introduction to a periodic series of blogs where we can explore some of the tricks and tips that will make SketchUp even more fun.

For more info visit Google Sketchup.

There is a plethora of good online and published resources out there and since I don’t want to waste time reinventing the wheel, my quest is to provide a resource where others can post questions, hypothetical quandaries that keep you up at night, real life projects or anything you can come up with to challenge the boundaries of SketchUp.  From your inquires I will do my best to come up with a solution or two.   Until then, I look forward to hearing from you and learning some new tips along the way.

Tip #1 – Shortcuts

Typically, project deadlines are often not as generous as we would like, so to increase productivity, amaze onlookers and to keep life as stress free as possible I recommend using shortcuts.

Most of us in the design world are accustomed to using both hands while at the computer, but often times when I observe other people using SketchUp, they usually go for the icons.  This is interesting because many of those same people know the most bizarre AutoCAD LISP Routines and can type those in their sleep.  So why not do it in SketchUp?  Luckily, there aren’t as many choices in SketchUp, so it is fairly straightforward and easy to remember.  For example “B” is the shortcut for using the Paint Bucket, and “M” for the Move Tool.  Brilliant!

SketchUp is built with many preset shortcuts and those can be enough, but depending on your technique, these may need to be modified/enhanced.  Here is a link to a list of the built in Shortcuts.  Some of those work well for me, but I have also reprogrammed my preferences to reflect the way I work.  The ones I use frequently are:

C – Close Group/Component

G – View Hidden Geometry

H – Hide Selected

Q – Previous Camera View

U – Unhide All

Alt+X – Hide Rest of Model

Ctrl+/ – Intersect Selected

Customizing your machine to fit your modeling style is by no means difficult.  To do this follow the instructions.  I hope this has been helpful and look forward to hearing from you.


  1. I love the images in this post and I have a question more related to them than the shortcuts. When I am working with a highly detailed/rendered sketchup model, like the images you’ve shown, it usually bogs down my computer and I am running a pretty fast machine. Are there tricks to keeping the model running fast? I know some plant components are 2D vs. 3D, does that help? Are other components too detailed? is there a certain model view that runs faster? Perhaps you could address these questions in another post. Thanks.

  2. Hi Aaron,

    Keeping your 3D models manageable is key! If you don’t, you are likely to spend more time waiting for your machine to catch up. This defeats the purpose of SketchUp – quick and easy exploration and presentation of design ideas. I rely on quite a few tricks to keep model size down and will definitely take you up on your suggestion on writing a more detailed blog concerning this topic.

    In the meantime, don’t overlook the shortcuts. For instance, if you are working in groups and components (which I highly recommend!) the “Hide Rest of Model” command is very helpful when editing these entities within larger files.

  3. Just FYI I was doing some work in sketchup and referenced this post for some of these shortcuts, but, these are not default shortcuts, H = Hand unless you customize them, which you can do on the PC under ‘Window’ – ‘Preferences’ select shortcuts from the menu on the left.

  4. Yeah, I don’t use all the preset shortcuts because they don’t totally work with my modeling style or in this case there is a better way to access the pan hand. If you hold down the mouse wheel and the shift key at the same time, you will get the hand.
    If you don’t currently use this technique, there is no turning back.

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