PDF to SketchUp

Hi Everyone,
It’s apparent that Sketchup can’t import a vector PDF like autocad. Why? A lot of clients are sending me the vector PDF’s as a substitution for the dwgs and taking a screen shot is not acceptable. Will Sketchup ever become current with the other Cad programs in this department? Thanks.


Are you sure that Autocad has capabilities to import PDF? It would be nice to see how are you doing this.

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This probably makes it worse but you can on a Mac…


Autocad has for some time now been able to import PDF’s as vector objects if the (big IF) the PDF was created by a vector type of software. Adobe Illustrator, a CAD program, etc. The PDF import routine is on the tool bar for INSERT.


It would be great to be able to use vector PDFs as reference images on the PC version.


Hi Simon, thank you. I should have guessed, and I did. That’s great for Mac’s though. I’m on a PC here. I appreciate the help.

It looks like Autodesk introduced a PDF import command in AutoCAD in 2017. SketchUp for macOS has included a basic PDF import for quite a while, though (unfortunately for your needs) we do not provide similar support on Windows.

We’re lucky on macOS that PDF has always been a part of Apple’s base image libraries. In practice, anything which can open a JPG file on the Mac can also open a PDF file. Microsoft does not provide equivalent support to developers on Windows.

All that said, are you sure what you really want to edit PDF data in SketchUp? PDF format was not designed to transfer CAD data. It was intended to be a non-editable destination format, like a piece of paper.

The main problem for you is that PDF does not encode scale in the drawing. You will have to rescale CAD data that you receive in PDF format. You do not have to do this in CAD data you receive in DWG/DXF format. Scaling CAD data from a PDF file, especially if you are going to have to scale it up dramatically, will introduce a loss of precision that you should worry about. Depending on your intended use of the translated data, this could be a risky move for you.

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Hi Sean, you would think that right. If you can have it work on a Mac, why not a PC?

I hear this. I can see the value of a PDF as reference data, especially for an archviz project where dimensional precision is less critical. Would you want to be able to snap to edges and endpoints in the PDF data?


Oh yes, that would be a GREAT feature to have. Sure I don’t have to be 1/4" accurate with arch viz projects. As long as it looks “close” :wink:

Edit: Yes snapping to points in case it wasn’t clear :wink:

Hi Jbacus, The main point for me is to have a vector sample instead of an image from the PDF. In autocad the ability to convert to lines again is huge regardless of the accuracy because once it’s a vector the scaling can be accurate. An image is not worth much for cad work anymore. It’s a pretty picture in the background. With all of the dozens of vector based programs there isn’t a common base for everyone to share. This has been the road block for 20+ years. Every program is so proprietary paranoid that no one can share anything anymore. Give me a program that can digest anything and let me get on with my work please. I aprreciate the help.

Perhaps something Apple has added in and not on SketchUp.

I am going to give Vector Works a trial run and see. Being a German based program I have confidence that the code is solid, and they are more open to exchange. I saw Allplan a long time
ago and Allplan was better than Autocad at the time. (2004). They didn’t waste time on the American market because everyone was too entrenched using Autocad. So I will give it a try again. Thanks to evryone for the help.

For Everyone, Here is a list of what Vecotr Works will import. Notice it will import Sketchup too.Vector Works-Import

@jbacus This is a thorny subject. How come John Brock can get it done and then we have to pay $100.00 a year plus or minus for a subscription to import PDFs?


Import vectorial PDF file as a DXF file, via Inkscape (free)


In my curiosity, I came across this service to convert any image to Vector.
Although I really need it on my desktop.

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Hi Mihai, That is good to know as a solution. I am hoping for a single step within Sketch Up but this is helpful. Thank you.

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Rhino is another app that can import PDF (and SketchUp too)


Hi Anssi, Ahhhh I completely forgot about Rhino! Thank you.