Mac interface; toolbar customizing and docking tools,

So, it would REALLY be nice, if the developers of mac version of SU pro would clean up the toolbar customization AND the docking ability of all the window features (entity, components, layers, scenes, etc.)

For the tool bar, you can use the customize toolbar feature, but it only allows one row of icons on the top ribbon, so you either run out of screen or you need to limit the number of icons on the header. They should stack to a second ro third row as needed, and better yet ability to add to the side of the screen. This isn’t an option on the mac version (but I know it is on the windows version). This is particularly frustrating when you have quite a few extensions.

Second, any open toolbar or function window (such as scenes, materials, layers etc) float but don’t attach (dock) to the header or side of the window as most software gui would. its particularly frustrating when you have multiple monitors, because the window header bars will click together, but won’t stay together when you try to reposition them - especially when dragging them from one monitor to the next. This little detail is becoming infuriating because every single time I open up sketchup I need to individually drag and drop all the headers and extra tools to a reasonable spot to begin my work (I say reasonable because I can only get them to float and not actually attached to any place solid on the screen) - frustrating enough for me to log on and add this request / complaint. It’s not even close to what it was like on the windows interface.

When is this going to be fixed?


as a long time mac user I don’t consider it to be ‘broken’ and would oppose this feature request…

SU’s mac GUI follows Apples Human Interface guidelines and behaves like a ‘real’ mac app [ unlike those that have been ‘ported’ from windows or linux]…

if you desperately want the ‘windows’ GUI, you can run windows on your mac, many do…

you can also use Apples builtin tools and SU’s Ruby to modify toolbar/panel placement with an investment of time to learn the tools…

if you always use multiple monitors it can be set to be as stable as a single screen and toolbars can be reset with a single click…

SN: having any ‘inspector’ panel open has a marked effect on SU’s performance on both platforms and it is best to only unfurl them between modelling actions…



I should look into this, because I am curious about it, but at the time SketchUp would have been deciding how to dock palettes there was a lawsuit going on between Adobe and Macromedia, over how to dock palettes. The outcome was that Adobe acquired Macromedia, that settled things.

It makes me wonder whether SketchUp had any restrictions on how things could dock.

As for Colors not docking, and the toolbar only having one row, it would be funny if you asked Aaron that on the next live modeling. But don’t tell him I suggested asking!

Semi-seriously, a lot of people at SketchUp are using Mac, including Aaron, and it would be interesting to hear his solution to not having the multiple rows that you often see on Windows.

You don’t have to ask him. You can look at his screen in the live stream. He doesn’t keep a whole lot of toolbars out. Instead he uses keyboard shortcuts for most tools.

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And gets by with palettes and contextual menus for extensions.

I will concede that the way all extensions seem to open their palette on top of each other in the top left corner can be confusing, you have to move several of them to get to the one you want. My solution is to close all of them, then only open the one I want at that time.

The multiple rows is another solution, you can get to all of your extensions in one click, but it would be interesting to measure how many of the icons you see are ones you ever click.

I’m not sure it’s “broken” but I agree with the spirit of the post that the Mac interface could use some attention. I do not want it to look like windows, the design language is fine. But I would love the option to add a second row to my toolbar, or better yet to make my own personalized floating tool pallet with a bunch of different extension icons. Having a bunch of tiny extension pallets all floating around can’t be following Apples Human Interface guide. I think the way pallets dock and the material editor could both use some help in MAC too.
I know some people like to have less buttons and only open extensions when they need them. I need lots of them and I like having the buttons available. Can’t we have a sketchup that serves up both?


So John, I’m confused - how would the request for the ability to dock affect your work flow? Thats great that you are a devote mac user - many of us are. But I’ve seen this observation and complaint on other blogs /comments, so I’d be surprised I’d be alone in this request. I’m not looking for a replacement just a bit more flexibility to using the tools. But thanks for your constructive feedback anyway.

Not likely as SketchUp (Windows edition) uses MFC which goes back 27 years to 1992.
As I recall, the Visual Studio IDE (released in 1997) itself used the docking tray and panel system.

An image of VS from the XP days... (click to expand)


SU for mac was written from the ground up as a ‘cocoa’ app and therefore was confined to the apple ‘interface builder’ options, they are still ‘basically’ unchanged…

there was/is the option of ‘split pane’ windows [as used in Layout], which can emulate the ‘docked’ scenario, but they can’t be undocked only ‘hidden’, like SU Web editions…

the chosen ‘interface’ for SU was to use ‘stackable floating’ and ‘non-stackable floating’ and it is extremely rare to combine this with a ‘split pane’ document…

the differentiator is that the app owns the menu bar and all flowing window, and the document owns the split pane panels…

it would require a major rewrite to change these ownership relationship’s…

I have re-written the SU mac document layout many times and keep coming back to the basic original ‘shipped’…

I always have extension on the left of my drawing window, which always opens with that space available, panels are generally closed on the top extreme right or occasionally on a second monitor…

the exception is ‘model info’ which I like peeled off and moved to where it’s most convenient…

I’m not complacent or content with the UX and have written many toolbar managers as well…

my main objection to your FR is that if deemed as essential by the ‘powers that be’ then the SU Web Interface would developmentally be less arduous and I like it even less…

for ‘tools’ a few shortcut keys linked to interactive selections is a better concept then the windows solution, and I would push for that…

bit like this…


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I’m confused too. Are you seriously saying that you think the current SU UI on MacOS is optimal?

I respect your knowledge and contributions, but unless I’ve completely misunderstood your position, I so disagree.


I’m not saying it’s optimal,

I’m saying there are only a few relatively minor updates that could be implemented [input boxes with the ellipse on the wrong end for easy reading, a choice of position of the '‘measurement’ box, the color panel ] …

but a windows ‘like’ interface would require a ‘major’ re-write and I’d prefer the ‘dev’ time is spent elsewhere and not hasten the switch to a desktop ‘Web App’ clone…


Thanks for the clarification. I don’t have time for a full reply tonight, but there are a raft of UI issues that I’d like to see addressed, several of which are lower-hanging fruit than others.

As to development priorities: hasn’t the apparent development priority over the past few years been the build-out of said dreaded ‘Web App’ — at the expense of any significant advancement in SU Pro, and especially LayOut (which desperately needs major surgery).

I’ve used Macs for 34 years, and I’m more than simply used to its floating palettes, I like having the ability to resize and arrange them any which way. I dislike the Windows interface, especially when loaded down with rows and rows of plugins. Any more than one row and it crowds the remaining actual drawing window down into a letter slot of sorts. That vertical dimension of the screen is the most precious aspect to try and save with a screen that’s already 16:9.

What I do wish for is the ability to save multiple “saved states” of screen arrangements that can be called back with one click much the way scenes work in SketchUp. The biggest reason is that at my desk I have two monitors (external and laptop internal) with one filled with palettes, but when I unplug and go on the road, I just have the internal screen and want a different arrangement. Manually swapping out Pref files and Jason files works, but is a major pain while that’s precisely the kind of task computers are good at.


I go thru different screen use a couple times a week. I try to put the windows together but every time I come back. it’s like they’ve exploded. They are all over the screens. Sometimes I have to search for one or two that may be just on the edge of a screen or hiding behind something else. There is absolutely no order. Many applications including Apple’s own (Pages etc.) are able to offer some order to dialogs. And it would be nice if there was a toolbar besides the one they have, which I suppose is an Apple thing–where you really can’t put many icons.
Could there be a Tool Palettes menu that was a dialog instead of a pull down. Then one could pluck out a palette or put it away with a couple clicks. Pull down menus kill work flow in the zone.


glad to see some healthy dialog on this topic - bottom line is improvement of work flow. I’m always open to pointed suggestion on how to make things better. Given the blog posts, I do still see some vast improvement needed with sketchup (and vray) while still adhering to the mac gui (I did switch my work computer for a reason).Docking and multiple layer toolboxes doesn’t necessarily translate to converting to the dark side…

happy sketching everyone.

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Agreed. I would welcome a UI overhaul despite it possibly breaking some conventions that people may be used to. I’ll even live with floating panels. They just need to be better for getting things done.

But it really does need help big time. For me workflow is hindered by the mac window system where they often disconnect from each other and can’t be resized to my ideal needs. On my huge high res displays with a minimal setup I still find myself floundering through the panels that cannot be used all at once because they are so large. Panels that can’t be smaller than an arbitrary height is beyond frustrating. Having no way to lock in a setup for future use or for others is a HUGE OMISSION.

Being able to dock tools in the top panel is nice. Maybe give us something similar and flexible on the sides too? Hook it up Trimble!


For instance, wish we could do this:

Personally I can’t stand having more than one row of toolbars on Windows. I think it’s too distracting and noisy. Should be mentioned I have 100 installed extensions and around 20 to 40 I use on a regular basis, but I activate most from either menus or shortcuts.


I totally get not wanting it to be cluttered, no one should be forced into having two rows. But it would be nice if those of us who want them could have them.

A good bar has a lot of different booze so we can all have our favorite drink. We just don’t order the ones we don’t like.


Agreed. What about columns? That could be super useful. Like a customizable toolset palette instead of relegating to the top of the window.

Honestly it seems like customization should be a priority for a SketchUp interface to be successful to the various types of users and workflows that exist.