Mac specific improvements to SketchUp


How to improve SketchUp? A complete rebuild of the Mac version, to make it have, oh, maybe just a little similarity to the PC version. No one could have coded things so that the UI is the same across both platforms? Really? How hard would it have been to put all the tools in the same place in both builds? Why scatter and hide them on the Mac?

I teach a university Architecture course and the students model using SketchUp. I demonstrate the software using Pro 2015 on my Windows8 laptop (I have never used a Mac in my life). To my utter disappointment, nearly every student brings a Mac to class. I can’t force them to buy a Windows setup. My demonstrations are useless, my time is wasted, and my students’ respect for me diminishes, when they ask me why they can’t find any of the tools I showed them in my demonstrations, and I have no F’ing clue where they are hidden on their screen.

One example (of many) : the LAYERS pane. I need to have my students create, rename, and toggle layer visibility on and off as part of their assignments. I tell them to open the LAYERS tool, a feature I find on my windows version in the VIEW>TOOLBARS list where it belongs. On a Mac? Nowhere to be found. My poor students have to go to EDIT>CUSTOMIZE and drag the layer window to their ribbon. And then? That’s just a list of the layers… there is no intuitive way to toggle them on/off, or add/delete/rename them. What gives???

There is a shamefully poor resource of Mac tutorial videos on the internet. I spent all evening searching for something I could tell my students to use to help them learn on their Macs. Nearly every video I’ve seen demonstrates the Windows version only. Hell, there is one Mac demonstration literally narrated by a CHILD.

This forum appears to be no help. It would be awesome to have a Search field on this site to navigate to posts that deal with a specific needed issue (in my case “MAC+LAYERS”). That way, in the rare event that there is a solution to my question, I don’t have to sift through hundreds of posts to find it.

How to improve SketchUp collaboration

Hopefully us Mac users wouldn’t have to give up the ability to drag a texture onto a face. What I mean is, I could be in the Orbit tool, decide I want those bricks to look different, drag other bricks from the Color palette to the face, and I’m still in the Orbit tool.


if you type mac layers into the search field you get a lot of hits?

and heres a link to some of the many mac tutorials

the Layers panel is a window, so it’s found under Window in the SU menu bar, and can be toggled on/off from there…
also you can add new Layers directly in Model Info by typing a new name then clicking out of the input field…

they can even use built in ‘spell check’ on the name by right clicking…

and import PDF, and …

there are things I would like improved, but there are a lot of mac niceties that I would not wish to loose…

Finding the Tool Palettes is probably the least intuitive, it’s under the View menu…

there are less differences then similarities…

sounds like your institution should buy you a mac, so you can run both versions from one machine…



I agree with your basic point, though I think out of frustration you exaggerate the situation. There is more that looks and works the same on Mac and Windows than works differently. And some of the differences are fundamental Mac vs Windows variations on how to structure an application GUI that you will find in any comparison of Mac vs Windows (e.g. MDI interface, system-wide menu bar instead of per-window, toolbar stripe across the top of each view window, …). The fact that you have never used a Mac in your life is a poor reason for expecting a Mac application to conform to Windows look and feel or to not bother to learn SketchUp on Mac if that is what most of your students are using. I use a Mac, but I keep track of where things are and how they work on Windows.

However, there are indeed differences between the Mac and Windows versions that are not simply “the Mac way” vs “the Windows way”. They are arbitrary variations in the way the SketchUp UI was programmed on the two platforms. The example you cite is one, though the Layers inspector is located consistently at Window->Layers on both platforms. You simply got used to accessing this inspector via the shortcut on the layers toolbar (only available on Windows) rather than via the menu. The most frequently-cited example of total divergence between the Mac and Windows is surely the Materials window, which has few similarities at all in appearance or operation. Many of us have groused about this difference for years.

The explanation I have heard is that, particularly when they were owned by Google, the SketchUp team was severely resource-limited and couldn’t afford the effort to rework the application to a more portable GUI. This seems ironic, since I’ve also heard that a lot of the SU team use Mac’s themselves!

Regarding search on this forum, as with any search engine you sometimes have to try variations on your query to get good results. Also, in many cases a person starting a topic doesn’t realize that their problem is Mac-specific, hence doesn’t include “Mac” in the title. This can make hits harder to find.


I almost died laughing, you, sir, are well on your way to being a great professor! The key is disgust and disdain for your students’ choices, and their existence in general!

That being said, if you don’t want to wade through the handful of differences in UI, there’s a very good chance that your school provides the software for them to run windows in a virtual machine, from whence they could follow along in the windows version of SketchUp. I know our university provides VMware and Windows for all students.

If you are looking for something in particular that you can’t find, I would be more than happy to do a quick screen recording. If you are looking for more resources, your university may offer students a subscription to, which has good SketchUp Courses, and you could also try Bonnie Roskes’ books, they typically reference the differences between Mac and PC very well, I have used them as a textbook before.