How about preventing shapes with different tags from merging?

I find it somewhat frustrating to have drawing objects merge regardless of what tag they have. I generally handle this problem by creating components for the various objects I am drawing so that other objects won’t unintentionally merge with them. It occurred to me though that one thing that would help with this problem is if SketchUp would prevent shapes with different layer or tag names from merging with each other. As it works now I can draw a rectangle with tag “wood” and overlap it with another rectangle with tag “metal”. The result is that both rectangles are broken into various pieces where they overlap. Shouldn’t the individual integrity of a given shape remain unmodified if another shape with a different tag overlaps it? Wouldn’t it be better if I needed to use the same tag for new shapes that were intended to modify an existing shape? I think that would make it a lot easier to keep objects separate from each other without having to make so many groups or components.

It seems you’re kind of missing the point of the way SketchUp is designed to work. Groups and components are the way to provide separation. Tags are only a visibility control for groups and components. (All edges and faces should be created and remain untagged.) They are not intended to provide any separation or to prevent the merging of geometry.

Geometry in the same context (i.e. ungrouped or within the same group or component) is supposed to merge.


Building on @DaveR’s reply, this kind of confusion about what tags do vs what groups and components do is the reason why the name was changed from “layers” to “tags” in SketchUp 2020. They do not serve the same purpose as layers in 2D drawing apps.


Tags need not only be a visibility control for groups and components. If that is the only way you are using them then I think you are missing something useful. Groups and components themselves can be complex objects that contain shapes with different tags. You can’t create edges and faces without them having a tag. Tags also allow for setting different visual styles such as color and line type too. Setting visibility using tags works just as well on objects that are not in groups or components and it can be used to control the visibility of objects that are inside of components that are on display. Some of my components have a dozen or more different tags inside of them. One of my main uses for SketchUp is in the design of tiny houses. I can create a roof component and a wall component. Inside each of these components I can have wood that is used to draw the framing lumber and I can have osb or plywood that is used for the sheathing. I might want to display both the roof and wall framing at the same time but not display the osb in both. I typically use scenes to further manage what is visible in a given context. I can hide components and I can turn visibility of tags on and off to get the exact combination that I want. The problem I am trying to address here with this suggestion is that it would be a lot easier to create complex components with objects that have different tags if I did not have to be so careful with the basic shapes that have different tags when I am making a complex object.

Call them what you will their use still does not need to be as restrictive as you guys are suggesting. Implementing my suggestion would give tags a whole new lease on life and greatly improve their usefulness.

You can use SketchUp the way you want. The advice that has been in place for longer than I’ve been using SketchUp (started in early 2003) is to use it the way it was designed to be used. Groups and components to provide separation, Layers and, now tags, for controlling visibility. That method works very well. It eliminates the need to chase the active tag which reduces workload and the chance of inducing errors. Still, if you like chasing the active tag as you work and don’t mind that, you can certainly work that way. I’ll wish you good luck.

I do in fact use tags to control visibility but not just by assigning tags to component placements. Is that what you are doing? Do you create complex components with objects inside of them that are made of different materials like I need to do? Perhaps what you are drawing does not need the same level of material and visibility control that I need? What about the fact that tags can be used to control line types for different shapes? Are you using that feature? That’s a relatively new one that I like a lot by the way. I am curious how you would handle the scenario I described about wanting to display wood objects inside of two different components but not display the plywood objects in the same two components? Perhaps I am missing something here?

You are.

You can do just what you want to keep separation between materials by assigning different materials to different components or groups, or subcomponents or subgroups.

To show or not show the different objects, assign layers or tags to control visibility of the different objects.

Layers or tags in SketchUp do not separate and never have separated geometric elements.

Draw edges and faces (raw geomety) only on Layer0/Untagged, keep the default layer or tag on Layer0/Untagged, and ONLY assign a layer or tag to components, groups, subcomponents or subgroups, or other objects like dimensions.

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You can, and should.

As | and others said earlier, leave the default layer at Layer0, or tag at Untagged.

They can indeed. That’s how experienced Sketchup modellers use them.

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Yes, I do, and so do millions of other Sketchup users.

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I understand that tags do not separate geometric objects. I am basically suggesting that I think there are valid reasons why they should. My drawings eventually do end up with individual simple subcomponents assigned to material specific tags. More complicated components have tags that are more function specific such as “wall”, “roof”, “floor”, “cabinet”, etc. The difference in my approach is that the content of a component with objects assigned to only one tag usually have both the internal objects and the component itself assigned to the same tag. That is because in the process of drawing objects I will often be simultaneously drawing several different shapes that eventually need to be assigned to different material types. I eventually will select different parts of what I am drawing and put them into components. To do that I of course have to select just the drawing shapes that I want to assign to a given component. That is a lot easier to do if I have drawn my shapes using different tags because I can turn off the visibility of objects with tags I do not want to select. Also if I am currently pointing to the tag I want assigned to the component I am creating it will automatically get that tag. The problem I am trying to solve here is that it is not always desirable in my drawing scenario to have different shapes that overlap each other merging together. It is often too soon for me to want to put shapes in components or groups as I am creating them. If tags would allow separation of geometric objects it would be a very useful feature to me for my style of SketchUp use. It would be completely harmless for your suggested style of usage. If you draw everything on Layer0 you would be completely unaffected by the feature I suggest. I can understand that implementing this feature could be very difficult in SketchUp depending on how shapes and tags have been implemented. I do however believe that tags would be even more useful than they are now if my suggestion were to be taken seriously.

What you describe isn’t the way SU works, never has been, and is extremely unlikely ever to be changed.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why this is the case for you, but I find this easy. Draw, create component, assign tag if needed to the component, move on to next thing I want to draw.

As you yourself have said,

It would be. I think it won’t happen. (Personal opinion - I have no connection with Trimble other than as a user of SketchUp)

What I typically am drawing where this is an issue is architectural detailing where so many shapes have to fit with or relate to other shapes. It can be awkward to have to keep diving up and down into components to make tweaks to get things to fit. I do put shapes into components but would prefer not to have to do so immediately after drawing the first version of them. Sometimes too I would just like to draw something quickly without having to put everything into components and just leave it that way. It is sometime irritating to have to come up with yet another component name.

It occurs to me that there is another reason that it would be awkward for me to use tags only for components. There are some cases where a component might have a single material in it such as “wood”. The use of the component however needs to be function specific for each placement of the component. That is especially true for a simple programable component that I created that is a stretchable block of wood For some placements the component needs to be tagged “stud”. For others the tag needs to be “plate”. Yet I want to be able to turn the visibility of wood on and off.

Regarding whether or not Trimble would consider this change where am I supposed to be making this suggestion if not here on the forum?

This is as good a place as any, and as you have it, in the Feature Requests section.

You can do this with one extra level of component nesting.

Suppose you are creating the side of a house, or an internal partition.

Draw any one piece of it, for example your block the size you want. Tag it stud or plate. Select it, and make component again (a parent of the block). Name it (for example) Wooden Wall parts. Tag it wood.

Draw the other studs or plates inside the Wooden Wall parts component. Tag each as stud or plate.

Then to show or hide all Wooden parts, turn on or off the wood tag. To show only studs, turn on the wood tag, turn on the studs tag, and turn off the plate tag.

Nest the Wooden Wall parts component inside a Wall component, and insert Window frames, door frames, etc. inside that. Tag them as you wish.

Though if it were me, I’d name the component either Stud or Plate, and tag it accordingly. And if you want to scale individual studs or plates from one base component, have two base components - one drawn with its long axis vertical for studs, the other horizontal for plates.

Many different ways to do it. Pick one that works for you, but don’t go against the grain of the way SketchUp is designed to work.

And tagging edges or faces as other than Layer0 or Untagged leads to unexpected results that are often hard to understand, let alone untangle.

I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I have been using my technique for quite a few versions of SketchUp Pro and have not had any unexplained problems that I can recall.

As long as the shapes that I draw to represent a piece of wood are tagged as “wood” when I draw them everything about component naming above that component can be named anything at all without losing the ability to turn the display of wood on and off. Regardless of whether or not you think that is the way someone should use SketchUp it does in fact work very well that way and seems a lot simpler than the approach you have suggested.

Why do you suppose Trimble added different line types to tags rather than somewhere else in the software if they felt that tags other than Layer0 couldn’t or shouldn’t be used to draw shapes?

Good question. I think it could be because AutoCAD did this (bad reason) or it could be because SketchUp inherently cannot have features besides material assigned to objects.

A questionable implementation of a very recent feature, (many would argue that dashes should be an edge style not a Tag) is not a great basis on which to suggest a change to one of the fundamentals of the software.

Geometry in Sketchup is sticky, this is one of the main ways it differs from others, groups and components are used to separate the sticky geometry.
Layers/Tags are a display tool.

While your workflow works for you, give your model to any other user and they will be lost and tearing their hair out within seconds. I have spent far too much of my life attempting to repair models created using the incorrect use of layers, and adding your request would not fix that issue.


My initial request was not at all intended to launch a discussion about how to use layers or tags. Rather I wanted a better way to keep individual shapes from merging with other shapes accidentally.

I do find it a little hard to believe that no one else in the SketchUp world uses tags in the way that I do but perhaps that is the case. Perhaps the reason I have chosen to use them that way does hearken back to my experiences with other varieties of CAD systems that I have used before starting to use SketchUp. I didn’t spend a lot of time going through tutorials - rather I looked at the various features and came to a conclusion on my own as to how I wanted to use them. So if I am a rogue user I am sorry about that. Perhaps it is fortunate that I do not need to share my drawings with anyone to do my work.

How often do you see this?

Those answering you here all work with very complex models. I’ve never heard of anyone using tags the way you do, except very new users who often arrive here with jumbled messes of models after having erroneously believed that “layers” (tags) work like photoshop layers. But hey, you have a system, I get it, it’s working for you I guess, but not really or you wouldn’t want to change the program. So how do you use the Outliner with your system?

Letting raw geometry merge is a fundamental part of SketchUp, and a very use-full one that I would not want to change. No need to be sorry about your usage, I just think you are swimming upstream using the program in a way it was not designed to work and things could be easier for you. But it’s nobodies mission to police your method. Happy modeling.


Redesigning such basic behavior would break workflows and existing models. It’s easier to learn what a tag represents. A tag doesn’t represent a single object like Cabinet, Chair or Wall but represents a “class” of objects, like Cabinets, Chairs or Walls. You typically apply the tag to an object as a whole (a group or component) as the whole object is of that class. Tags doesn’t define the boundaries of an object. Making tags pseudo-groups is reedundant as we already have groups for this, and it would also break the very, very rare use cases when it is valid to apply tags directly to geometry, e.g. to hide the edges making a seam between two adjacent objects.

It’s never to soon to separate individual objects into groups/components. You have to do this early to avoid merging. In 2020.1 there is even the ability to create empty components before you start drawing the object. Tags on the other hand is something you can apply at the very end.

For the record you can’t draw on a tag and never have been able to. Even when tags were wrongly called “layers”, it didn’t represent a location of any sort of model hierarchy. The tag is applied on the entity, not the other way around. In SketchUp, it is groups and components that make up this hierarchy and best maps to what other programs call layer. If you think of groups and components, not tags, as being the layers in a SketchUp model, the current (and 20 ore so year old) behavior makes perfect sense.

Since this requests stems from how you view tags, that is naturally the direction the discussion takes. When you ask for a total redesign of tag’s behavior, you automatically ask for a total redesign in what a tag represent and how it should be used.

Pretty much every user having experience in other software has expected what was formerly called “layers” in SketchUp to work that way, as layers. That is why it was so important to rename this feature. Tags never were layers as they never behaved like layers. As I said earlier, if you start thinking of groups/components and the Outliner panel as the layers in SketchUp, this probably makes more sense. And sure, the behavior could in theory have been redesigned rather than the name being changed, but then the workflow would break for everyone who had learned to use the original behavior, and existing models would not work anymore.

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