One of the ways SketchUp resembles woodworking is that it’s easy to get caught up in messing around with the tools and never get any real work done. In my classes this year I only hinted at the ability to customize Toolbars, a feature added in SketchUp 2013. I was afraid that it would kill the entire day. I recommend sticking with the standard set of tools in SketchUp for a while. With some experience you can then streamline your desktop and only display the buttons you really need. I take a few pages in my new book “Building Blocks of SketchUp” to explain the process in detail. Here is the quick version:
Go to the View menu and select “Toolbars”. This window will appear, and you can check or uncheck the toolbars that come with SketchUp. You can then drag the toolbars to the top or side of your screen and dock them. As they say on TV, “But wait! There’s more!”. One of the buttons on the right is labeled “New” and if you click on that an empty toolbar appears. You can then drag individual tool buttons from the bars they live on to your new toolbar. You can also remove buttons you never use by dragging them off a toolbar and into your modeling space.
So far, so good, but that changes the appearance of the supplied toolbars. If you want to keep them, click on the button that says “Reset All”. That returns the buttons to where they were without affecting your custom toolbar. The “Large Tool Set” toolbar was a bit quirky in SketchUp 2013, it now behaves itself and will display as a double column when docked on the left side to the screen.
If you have a sharp eye, you will notice that some of the drawing tools (as seen on the “Getting Started” toolbar) have black arrows that point down next to the icons. Click on the arrow and a flyout appears that will let you access some additional tools. The Circle and Polygon tools are now behind the Rectangle tool, the Freehand tool is now behind the Pencil.
I like this feature because it streamlines the toolbars with the most often used tools up front and ready to go. Many beginning SketchUp users get lost in the abundance of icons on screen. In my example of creating a custom toolbar, these are the icons I used. I use and highly recommend keyboard shortcuts for most commands (you can download a free pdf of my favorites here) but it is helpful to have your toolbars organized to meet your needs.
The Arc tool also has a drop down, with new ways to draw arcs. I like the original way SketchUp makes arcs, but these new options are a worthy addition. There is enough going on with the Arc tool that it deserves a post of its own.
There are also several other posts about the latest edition of SketchUp, you can read them at this link.