Getting Started with SketchUp

FYI, this is a work in progress. If I update this article, I’ll include an “Update History” here at the top, so you can see what you’ve missed.

People often ask how to get started using SketchUp to design their own models, so I put together this article. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, below.

Google SketchUp, Trimble SketchUp, WTH?

I don’t know the whole history, but at one point, SketchUp was owned by Google. (Trimble owns SketchUp now.) So you’ll often see references to “Google SketchUp”. If you do, that refers to an older version.

However, that doesn’t mean the information isn’t relevant. You’ll be amazed how little has changed. The changes made to SketchUp have almost all been new features, so almost anything that talks about older features will work in the latest desktop versions.

Which Version?

If you’re only going to be viewing SketchUp models, I recommend you use the free web version. Watch my video Viewing SketchUp Models for Newbies to learn how to get it and use it, and you can quit reading the rest of this article.

If you’re going to be creating SketchUp models, I recommend using the last free desktop version, SketchUp Make 2017. You can download it here.

OK, How do I Start?

Even though I recommend creating SketchUp models with the desktop version, start with this video abut viewing SketchUp models in the Web version:

It’s a great introduction to the concepts used in SketchUp, and it will honestly make it much easier to learn how to create SketchUp models, even if you use the desktop version.

Yes, a lot of the features are accessed in different ways in the desktop version, but trust me, it’s worth it.

After that…

…I recommend searching YouTube for introductory videos. Even if the videos are old, they’re almost guaranteed to still be relevant. If you don’t like one, just stop and try the next one, because there’s a lot of videos available, and it won’t take long to find some that you like.

Also, don’t skip a video just because it doesn’t have a lot of views. I’ve learned a lot of great things from videos that only a handful of people have watched. Of course, I’ve also seen some that I couldn’t stand for longer than 5 seconds, so YMMV.

If you find some videos you especially like, please leave links in the comments, below.

Matthias Wandel has some tutorials that are pretty good, even if they are old (make sure you read the “About Mice” section, below). Obviously he covers some of the concepts I covered in my video, but they’re still worth it.


  • Don’t try to do too much, too soon. You’ll only get frustrated.

  • 30 minutes searching YouTube and watching videos might save you countless hours of struggling to figure something out on your own. So when you’re looking for and watching videos, have a little patience. (This may only apply to me, because I’m so impatient.)

  • Learn about the SketchUp Inference Engine. And yes, this link is correct, even though you might not think so when you first start reading. But trust me on this, understanding this will make all the difference in the world.

About Mice

If you don’t have a three button mouse, and/or you don’t have a clickable scroll wheel, you may want to find something that helps you emulate clicking the scroll wheel.

Personally, I use a Mac with a “Magic Mouse”. I use a peripheral called the Contour Shuttle Pro v2.

I got it originally for editing videos, but it works great with other programs, including SketchUp.

I’m sure this is overkill for most of you, and you might even find a software solution. But I just wanted to mention it, just in case.

If you find other good solutions, leave them in the comments, below.



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