With the release of SketchUp 2013, many of the tool icon images changed. What hasn’t changed is that for efficient work in SketchUp, you should be using keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking on the icons in the toolbars, at least for the most often used commands.
One of the quirks of learning SketchUp is that the obvious way of doing something isn’t necessarily the best way. The tools on the toolbar are easy to figure out, and if you hover the cursor over one of the icons a tag will appear that tells you what the tool does. But when you’re hard at work on a model, moving the mouse to the toolbar and back again takes more time than you might think. One of the keys to efficient work is using the SketchUp keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking on the tool icons. A single letter will bring up the most commonly used tools, and there aren’t that many to learn. Nine shortcuts will let you do almost everything you need to do.
You can find the shortcuts in a couple of places. There is a pane in the System Preferences Window that lists all of the commands in SketchUp, and it shows you the assigned shortcut if that command has one. If you want to add your own, you can. Just click on the command to highlight it, then type the shortcut you want to add in the “Add Shortcut” area in the upper right and hit the plus sign.
You can also find the shortcuts on the menus. This is a view of the draw menu with the shortcuts listed as capital letters after the tool names. Most of them are easy to remember, the first letter of the tool name is the shortcut most of the time, except for Rotate. “Q” is the shortcut for Rotate, because the rectangle tool got in line first and grabbed the letter “R”.
I’ve created a PDF file as a handout for this year’s SketchUp classes, that lists the basic tools, their shortcuts, what they’re good for and how to use them. You can download this file for your own use by clicking on the link below:
If you’re into woodworking, the best resource for learning SketchUp is “Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp” an interactive PDF format book with embedded videos.
If you’re not into woodworking and want to learn SketchUp, a new interactive PDF book titled “Building Blocks of SketchUp” is on its way. It should be available in the late summer of 2013.