Add Layers toolbar to Layers panel

Not sure if I’m missing something but wouldn’t it be a good idea to add the Layers toolbar to the Layers panel, to have all functionality in one place?

I’ve never really found any need for the Layers toolbar. I create layers and control their visibility in the Layers panel and add the layer tags to the components in the model in Entity Info. Since Layer 0 should always be the active layer, there doesn’t seem to be anything that can’t be done between Entity Info and Layers panels.

Out of curiosity, what do you do with the Layers toolbar that can’t be done with the Layers panel?

Hi DaveR

I use the Layer toolbar to move items from one layer to another. If, for example, my Landscape Architecture & Garden Design students had added a number of trees they could move them all to a ‘trees’ layer, and then hide them all at once if needed (using the Layers panel).

I’ve not used ‘Layer Tags’ before, what do they do?

Is there a particular reason why ‘Layer 0 should always be the active layer’?


Are we talking about this icon:


If so, I am with @DaveR on this. Never use it.

But I would say that here are things about the way SU deals with layer management that could do with improvement. Most of them have been rehearsed here many times. For example, it is much too easy to inadvertently create a new layer and put things on it you meant for another already created. Being able to group layers (without resort to extensions) would be good. Having an inbuilt toggle to turn all layers (except Layer 0) off and back on again would also be welcome.

That can also be done in the Entity Info panel. I always have Entity Info open because there’s so much information there that isn’t provided elsewhere.

In SketchUp you don’t actually put components or groups “on” layers. Layers aren’t layers in the traditional sense. I just use the phrase “layer tag” to differentiate from layers in the AutoCAD/Photoshop sense. In SketchUp Components and groups can be given layer tags to be used for controlling their visibility.

Yes. All edges and faces are to be created with the Layer 0 layer tag assignment. Only components and groups get other assignments. That is actually a very freeing thing once you get it through your head and into your work flow as there is never any reason to chase the active layer. Any time you need to modify a component or group, you simply open it and do the editing. It makes no difference what layer tag has bee assigned to the group or component.

Also, raw geometry should always have the Layer 0 tag assigned to it.

So the fundamental rules for layers in SketchUp are :

  1. Layer 0 is always the active one.
  2. All edges and faces are created with the Layer 0 assignment and they keep that assignment.
  3. Only components and groups (and dimensions or other text if that’s being added in SketchUp) get other layer assignments.

Users who don’t follow those basic rules invariably create problems for themselves because they wind up with the wrong layer active when they edit components and groups so then the wrong stuff disappears when layers are made invisible.

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Thanks both. I’ll take what you’ve shared on board.

I’m teaching the students SketchUp in February, so I’ll incorporate the info then. We’ve not had any problems thus far, but it might be better to make the best practice more explicit.

I’ve just taken another look at the Entity Info panel and seen the Layers toolbar in there. Seems odd that it has been incorporated there, allowing you to ‘move’ something from one layer to another, yet it hasn’t been incorporated into the Layers panel and is just a standalone toolbar (View > Toolbars…).

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Again, you don’t move things to layers in SketchUp. The “layer tag” is assigned to the selected entity. The word “layer” is a problem because like I said, it’s not a layer in the traditional sense. It’s really more like a property that you give to an object. Kind of like giving the object a name or the ability to cast shadows. So it makes sense that you assign it in Entity Info and not Layers.

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Plus, there’s a one way relationship between objects and layers: each object knows what layer it uses, but layers have no idea what objects are using them. Layers organize things only in a what’s visible sense, not in any structure or ownership sense.

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Indeed, I meant ‘move’ as altering the Layer properties, hence the ‘’, as it doesn’t actually move anywhere. I guess it’s all semantics. Layers could be considered ‘Groups’ instead of Layers (though they already exist in SketchUp of course), so if you wanted to make Group A invisible you would click the eye. Maybe we could call them flocks or herds or something :wink:

Yes its semantics but the difference is important. Things “belong to” a group, flock, or herd. Nothing “belongs to” a SketchUp layer.

This is arguably one of the most common problems beginners turn up here with, having put raw geometry on a layer other than 0 and not understanding that it is then free to interact with other geometry, even if not visible. People end up with sticky jumbled models and don’t understand why. If you’re teaching SU a fundamental is keep layer 0 active at all times, make components/groups of everything and only assign those to layers. An echo I know, but it’s that important.

Not “odd” at all. A toolbar and a tray inspector panel are 2 different interfaces meant to be used in different places (in the UI,) and in different ways.

The toolbar presents a subset of the panel’s functionality usually in a docked always available place.
This way you can look up at the toolbar and see what layer is assigned to the selected object, without needing to switch trays and panels if the Entity Info or Layers panel are not visible. (The background of the toolbar picklist is yellow when displaying an object’s assigned layer property.)
Likewise if nothing is selected, (the toolbar picklist background is white) you can quickly look up and see what the default layer assignment is.

Whereas the panel may be in a tabbed tray (on my machine it is in the ORGANIZE tray tab,) and is not always the tray tab that is on top of the tray stack. (Ie, I have 4 tabbed trays: PROPERTIES, ORGANIZE, RESOURCES and STYLES. The inspector panels are docked into these separate trays in a categorical sense.)

My trabbed tray stack looks similar to this (except I’ve since moved the HELP and TREE autohidden trays to the left margin.):