Sketchup Tutorial | How to use Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed up your Navigation

Using keyboard shortcuts can save you a significant amount of time during modeling. It is a way to make the modeling process more natural and artistic, as opposed to technical and programmatic. When you learn keyboard shortcuts and commit them to memory, your hands will “remember” what key to press instinctively.

The really cool thing about Sketchup, is that it allows you to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts so you can create an optimal interface to fit the way you use Sketchup.

Why learn Shortcuts?

Think about when you type on the keyboard. You know what letters you need to press, but you don’t have to think about where the letters are. You just know where they are and your hands start typing away. It’s the same muscle memory that makes learning the keyboard shortcuts so beneficial. Instead of using the mouse to select a tool from the drop down menu or the toolbar, you use your non-mouse hand to select it on the keyboard. This keeps the mouse in the modeling screen where all the action happens.

Watch the video below to learn how I use two custom shortcuts to speed up my navigation in Sketchup.


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Custom Shortcuts

Sketchup preference menu
Sketchup add shortcut
Sketchup comes with many preset keyboard shortcuts, but gives you the ability to change them or add your own. Now I don’t suggest changing the defaults, but I have found that I’ve felt the need to add a couple additional keyboard shortcuts to my configuration.

Create your own shortcuts by going to Window-Preferences-Shortcuts. Select any of the actions from the scroll menu, and assign a keyboard shortcut to active/toggle that action. If you select a shortcut that is already in use by another action, you will receive an error.

There are a lot of times when I’m working on a component inside of my model, and there are other parts of the model that are in my way. If you go to View-Component Edit-Hide rest of Model, this feature will hide the rest of the model when you are editing a component. This happens enough that it’s a pain to go and select this feature from the drop down menu. So I created a custom keyboard shortcut to activate it.

x = Hide the rest of the model during component edit

The other shortcut I’ve added is for hiding components. This comes in handy when you want to select a bunch of things and hide them while trying to orbit around your model. It saves you two clicks for each entity you hide. Otherwise, you would have to right-click, then left-click on “Hide”. This way, you just select the entity and press N to hide it. The time you save adds up.

n = Hide selected entities

Take some time to think about what tools you use most often and create a shortcut to activate it. You’ll be surprised at the amount of time it saves you. If you’d like to learn how to use keyboard shortcuts, sign up for my mailing list to get my free keyboard shortcut reference guide.

UPDATE: 6/11/12 – dimitreze from YouTube offered another great tip. In my video, I showed you how you can hide a wall when you accidentally zoom out and end up inside of it. You hide the wall with a shortcut key (n), then zoom back in and press Ctrl-Z to undo the hide. dimitreze suggests creating a custom shortcut for the “Unhide Last” command, which is a great idea. This would allow you to hide the wall, then do some editing to your model. When you are all done editing, you can use the “Unhide Last” command to bring back the wall. Thanks for the tip!

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About Matt Donley

Sketchup user since 2007, I launched MasterSketchup as a way to help other people learn this fun program. My goal is to create easy to follow tutorials that help make 3D modeling more accessible to anyone interested in learning. You'll find many of my videos and tutorials featured on the official Sketchup Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.

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3 Responses to Sketchup Tutorial | How to use Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed up your Navigation

  1. Matt the Timber Tailor says:

    Thanks for a short, sweet tutorial! I knew that shortcut options existed but figured they’d be much more trouble to initialize. I can think of a list of them I need to set up already…

  2. Kevin says:

    The shift/Ctrl/Alt keys can’t be used? E.g. SHIFTA

    Also can a shortcut be assigned to the Component command?

    Love you stuff.

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