Outliner Suggestions

Outliner can become unwieldy with large models. Two suggestions:

  1. Bring back the functionality where turning off Layers (Tags) would cause the corresponding geometry in Outliner to disappear from the list. Right now, that geometry is just greyed out. It seems that the feature was eliminated because it caused some confusion. It would be nice to see it come back as an option, located where it would not be easy to turn on by accident–perhaps in Window > Preferences; or Window > Model Info > Components > Component/Group Editing.

  2. Add a ‘Do Not Expand’ option for individual Components, perhaps next to the ‘Lock’ icon in the Entity Info panel. ‘Expand All’ is a blunt instrument which expands not only my own components, but also manufacturers’ components downloaded from the 3DW—some of which contain a huge number of nested components and groups which makes navigating Outliner tedious. Filter is helpful, but limited.


Yes, but the recommendation for any file downloaded from somewhere else (including 3DW) is to import into a blank file and then edit out all the extraneous stuff. As you point out, things get unmanageable if you don’t.

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Sorry, some of my biggest offenders are Marvin Windows 3DW downloads. They make beautiful SU components. I want to keep them as is. I always download 3DW components of the decorative sort and edit them to death before putting them in my models–standard procedure.

Besides, some of my own components get hefty…and I do not need to see all the innards.

Perhaps it should be up to me what expands and what doesn’t.

Perhaps. But it also needs to have mass appeal if developers are going to consider it.

At the risk of bursting your bubble, a recent off the cuff survey about how many FRs ever get implemented suggested that it was very few indeed. In fact, although SU staff probably do look at them, it doesn’t seem as if they get on a to-do list. Because of that, I have stopped posting FRs.


I use Outliner a lot. Recently, I decided to see if I was missing any useful functionality so I watched a few videos–which tended to describe Outliner as ‘a very useful and underused tool.’ I laughed out loud…personally, I live in Outliner and Tags.

A fellow commenter suggested I go to ‘feature requests,’ so here I am. I hesitated because if Outliner is used so little, what’s the point? You seem to confirm that attitude.

I have no bubble; I am just making a suggestion.

If you read posts on this forum, it quickly becomes obvious that many people do not use Outliner much and some don’t bother with tags either. Even though I have been using the software since its earliest days, I only really got into understanding the power and usefulness of Outliner well after I started using SU as my only CAD software. There are a lot of people using the software who only use it for hobbies or home projects. My hunch is that SU still hasn’t made that much headway into the professional sphere. That is still dominated by the big guns like Autocad.

My own view (and it really is just mine!) is that even Trimble don’t view it as serious professional CAD software. That would maybe explain why suggestions lodged here don’t get the attention they deserve. There are many improvements to SU and LO that have been requested on this forum time and time again (such as better management of scenes) that never see the light of day. If it wasn’t so good in the first place, it would have withered away by now from neglect.

Interesting. It happens that I share your opinion about how Trimble views this software, although it’s hard to know what they’re thinking. In another comment, I described Autodesk as having a wide moat that Trimble is not going to breach any time soon with what they’re doing.

I have finished what I set out to do when I downloaded SU Pro last spring: I have a custom kitchen sitting in the production queue at a local cabinet shop; and a stainless-steel sink I designed, which is a bit unusual, is sitting in my basement. I drew up both in AutoCAD LT, but then decided I wanted to model the whole shebang up in 3D along with the entire first floor of my house—I have a bunch of built-ins in mind. Homeowners doing their own design can be problematic, so I figured having both 2D CAD and 3D models would be helpful to custom shops and SS fabricators: it tells them that I know what I want, and I know what it’s going to look like. It has worked out well.

I am serious when I say I live in Outliner and Tags…how else am I going to keep things under control? I glommed onto those two panels from day one. I understand that my suggestions will not have mass appeal if casual users aren’t interested. SU is fantastic for people who want to draw a few walls, download 20 megabytes of 3DW components, and voila—new bathroom! They are not going to bother with either Outliner or Tags. Then, there is a large community of people who use SU for small businesses where AutoCAD is giant overkill. They probably spend a lot of time developing custom SU algorithms to help with the workflow—I notice there are developer forums and such. That’s not for me, I’m just a retired engineer doing a one-off reno. I just hoped for a sleek, well designed 3D program in which I can model with a high degree of accuracy and which I can easily keep organized to the nth degree. It would have been nice if the user interface was a pleasure to use.

I hesitantly made these suggestions knowing full well that someone like me is not Trimble’s target user and pretty much thinking that these suggestions would go here to die. Still, hope lives eternal.

Well, I live in Entity Info, Outliner, and Tags.

I also live in Outliner & Entity Info, but I have no requirement for Tags.

Most of my models consist of 50 or so separate items which all need to be detailed individually in layout.

I find Outliner perfect for both organising the model, and then setting up the necessary scenes for Layout which can be full assembly’s, sub assembly’s or individual items plus its great for controlling their visibility.

I nest related groups in sub groups, so a top level group for instance called glass will contain say 15 sub groups which are individual glass items.

If I need a scene to show glass items only, I just hide other sub groups (metalwork, plastic etc) which takes seconds.

If I need a scene to show just 1 glass item, I hide other sub groups plus other glass items in the glass group which also takes seconds.

Outliner works beautifully for me but there must be countless other workflows.


I left out Entity Info. Sorry. It’s nestled right between Outliner and Tags.

I live in Boulder.



One day not so many years ago, a SketchUp programmer, perhaps a programmer located in Boulder, Colorado, thought it was a great idea to hide geometry in Outliner when a Tag is turned off. Poor misguided fool. To that programmer I say: one other person out here agrees with you completely. I know it’s not much, but kudos to you!

I looked up that issue, and it’s as recent as SketchUp 2020 that Outliner’s visibility became independent of Tags visibility. In 2019 and earlier (at least back to 2016) hiding a Layer would hide objects in Outliner.

I think the programmer that fixed the issue is now retired!


I have a highly detailed model with 700 plus components. The degree of nesting is high; no need to explain to me how to group components. Workflow rather depends on the modeler’s needs and wants, I would think. I have at least twenty scenes which I use both as navigation/visibility tools as well as to generate the pretty pictures.

Outliner works great for me, or I would not have the panel visible 100 percent of the time while I am modeling. I am very delighted to hear that it works well for you also.


I don’t think it was an issue that needed fixing; I think it would be useful and I am sorry it has been eliminated. My request that I be able to impose ‘do not expand’ on individual components stands.

Look, everyone: this post appears in “Feature Requests.” The SU Team eliminated a useful “Feature” because it was causing too much confusion among users. I “Requested” that it be returned because I would find it useful, and perhaps other people miss it as well. I have given some thought to how it might cause less confusion.

I was hoping that people would say, yes, I miss that too! It seems that not only is no one interested, but there’s a bit of an undertone that perhaps if I knew how to model efficiently I would never have asked.

Yet, somebody at SketchUp once thought it would be a useful feature. Go figure.

Perhaps it is best to label this thread a giant waste of my time and move on.

I edited the tags :grinning:

FWIW, I sometimes miss it, but I no longer organize larger models in SketchUp for viewing purposes.Got to get to know Trimble Connect.

I wasn’t trying to - I was just describing how I use Outliner to a fellow Outliner devotee :grinning: :+1:

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I actually agree with you in preferring the previous Outliner behaviour — i.e. that hidden tags (layers) disappear from the hierarchy — however I’ve given up on making feature requests largely due to the phenomenon that you describe. (and the fact that obvious omissions, bugs and annoyances remain after multiple years and oft-repeated requests). It’s not a productive use of my time in my experience.

On the other hand, behaviours I do find useful/logical have been eliminated — this one / the ability to create a layer/tag in the Entitiy Info box on a Mac / re-naming layers to tags (without having the essential characteristics of tags in every other software) / etc — which is why, to date, I have remained on 2019 since it’s less disruptive to my workflow.



Thanks. The change to Tags from Layers is a mystery to me also. Being both new to SU and a Windows user, I never suffered the loss of being able to apply Tags in Entity Info. I guess I should be grateful for that.