Precision moving / aligning inserted images

I am trying to create a page in LO with several photographs and I want them to be aligned. When I try to move them around, they don’t behave. In SU I can grab an object and drag it smoothly with the move tool. In LO it seems to have a mind of it’s own. It wants to jump too far or up and down. In SU I can grab a corner to move s/t, but in LO if I try that it wants to resize the viewport. In SU I can drag and snap things to a guide line, but that tool, sadly, is MIA in LO.

What is worse - there is a lag. I move the cursor and shortly after the view port moves. So it isn’t a fluid motion.

When I turn the snaps off it is better but still twitchy, and less laggy, but still lacking.
I have a dell xps 8920 with 8 gb of ram - could that be a factor? Or is it because the viewports contain images - perhaps they should be resized? They are about 7mb each.


Did you import the images in SketchUp, first?
You need to have set up a scene for each image.
Then, insert the model in LayOut select the scene, copy, paste (a new viewport is active and exactly placed over the first) change the scene while still active, paste another etc.

If you select the select tool, you will notice a grab handle or ‘Gizmo’ in the center of what is selected. The cursor changes into a hand (that tries to grab).
Now, you can click and move the grab handle to a point of more meaning then the center (top left of a rectangle or viewport and click again.
If the cursor changes into the Move-action, you will notice it will use that point as a ‘snap’ point.

Why would I import it into SU at all? In LO I can insert any image in it’s own viewport. Weirdly, I can’t import a PDF into LO. See example

Perhaps I should be using some other software program to assemble the photos, and save a jpg of that, and import it into LO as one image?

You see how the borders /spaces around the photos aren’t even, and the 2 photos in the bottom middle aren’t the same size. It is very difficult to make them align with all the lags or jumpy motion.



Ah, when you insert a SketchUp model, it gets named Viewport. A picture is just a picture.

True, you cannot import a PDF on WIndows.

Get acquainted with the Arrange tools


Get acquainted with clipping masks:


Create a rectangle of prefered size and keep that. Use the copy to place over the part of the image.

Thanks - I will watch some videos on arranging. But how does a clipping mask work if I want to use a full sized image? It’s not like I can specify a viewport to be a certain size like I can a rectangle in SU.

It looks like you are selecting all the objects on the page, then the allign tools become active. Or can you select several images, align them, then select different ones and align them?


As said before they’re only called viewports when the reference is a SketchUp Model.
You can create your own ‘viewport to an image’ by drawing a rectangle of a specific size on your paper and use that together with the image. Both selected, rightclick and create clipping mask.
Images have aspect ratio, so when you resize, hold down shift and position the picture. You can untick the fill of the rectangle and only have the lines…

Just noting again that images have 2D bounding boxes (or sizing frames, if you will.)
They are not (as said several times) model viewports.

(So edited the topic title to remove the word “viewports” and replace with “inserted images”.)

When an image inserted into LayOut, it appears that it is placed according to it’s center.
This center will usually not align with your snap grid, making the edges appear to be nonaligned.

Choose an appropriate grid for aligning your images. (File > Document Setup > Grid)

Then (with the grid on) draw a short horizontal line from where you want your image’s left margin to be, to the right just a bit. (Say a 1/4 inch.)

Then first select the line, then the image.

Then choose Arrange > Align > Top
… followed by Arrange > Align > Left

Now the top left corner of the image should be on grid, at the start point of the temporary line.

You can stretch the line across the page and use it to Arrange > Align > Top successive images as you insert them. (Or insert them and align them all to top in one operation.)

If you wish them all to be the same height (without changing aspect ratio,) draw a line for scaling (on Grid if you prefer) below the tallest image. Then scale the images whilst holding the SHIFT key, using the lower right corner of the images scaling frames.

Then select all the images, and try the Arrange > Space > Horizontally.
You’ll notice that the outer images do not move but those between are spaced evenly.
So this means the two outer images need to be positioned on whatever you wish the left and right margins (for the images) to be. (Meaning that you could have wider margins for text, etc.)

Ok - I will give that a shot.

I thought the term view port was similar to view point, a place you view from. I took it to mean an opening in the document area that is a portal that you view something through, be it the model, a scene, an image, an rtf document or something else.

That the LO software is a method of collecting and arranging those portals, and annotating them with brick a brack like dimensions, textures, labels etc. to make a meaningful presentation in the form of a document.

Clearly I was mistaken. I was unaware the view ports have different attributes depending on what is being inserted, be it a model, an rtf document or an image.

Perhaps you can explain - why can’t LO insert doc files? Or PDFs? I know there is a function where you resize the RTF with the bounding box and it rearranges the words to fit the space, which is a nice feature. However I find myself having to insert documents into my LO document area.

Sometimes many of them. I find myself having to convert them into jpgs, so I can insert them as an image, which seems to be an odd procedure, given the purpose of LO is to (in my case) produce construction documents. I would think they could be directly imported as-is.



In the CAD world, a paperspace (2D) viewport is a portal that views into a modelspace (3D) environment from a camera positioned in that 3D space. (You cannot position a camera in a flat 2D image.)

In the end it doesn’t matter what you may wish it to mean. In the case of images, they are inserted into the LayOut document container (which is a zip archive) in a resources subfolder.

Then they are displayed occupying a 2D bounds (which we can set explicitly in position and size via the LayOut Ruby API.) The Layout User Guide calls this a “selection border” for all objects.

As an aside … I also find it strange that we cannot enter exact sizes or scales into the Measurements box in LayOut like we can as in SketchUp.

Jack’s workaround with the rectangle and clipping mask, though welcome, is still a rigmarole.

Well this is true. LayOut is a paperspace presentation document editor application.

You still are using a term incorrectly (ie, referring to “viewports” as being able to have multiple kinds of resources.)

Things inserted in documents are called “objects”. (Do a search on the Web for OLE which is an acronym for Object Linking and Embedding.)

Different types / kinds of resource objects may be embedded in different ways, but can still have common controls. Ie, all of them have sizing / positioning frames (aka selection border) appear when they are selected for edit.

What I’m getting at here is, in the LayOut world, “viewport” has the normal 3D CAD meaning (it’s a portal looking at a 3D “view” of geometry,) and (currently) only supports skp model files.

When you use it to describe other things, you might confuse readers or you may get the wrong advice. The main reason is that the word “viewport” is scattered throughout the LayOut User Guide, but always when speaking of embedded SketchUp Model entity objects.

In the first guide page when introducing the inserting of a SketchUp Model, it is first spoken of as becoming a LayOut entity (and in the API, it is named Layout::SketchUpModel class instead of Layout::ModelViewport class.) This is why the inspector panel to control their properties is named “SketchUp Model” panel and not “Viewports” panel.

This also seems to indicate they have not yet any plans to support directly embeddeding other 3D model formats (such as glTF or 3D PDF, etc.) The workflow is to first import other 3D files into SketchUp a save as a .skp file, then insert into LayOut.

As a general rule, the LayOut User Guide says

LayOut is mainly for showing off your SketchUp models.

So it is no surprise that from the beginning and currently viewports can only “look into” SketchUp 3D model files.

Since, LayOut is not sold as a standalone application, there is not now any great impetus by non-SketchUp users to support the imbedding of other 3D model formats.

So a 2D graphics resource is inserted as an image object. RTF and TXT files as a Text document resources. (They are in the Document “References” list, and can be opened for edit in their registered application, via the Edit button at the bottom of the dialog. Sometimes you can get a “Open for Edit” on the right-click context menu for some objects.)

When you cut and paste plain text from other applications, it gets inserted as an internal LayOut text object that is not referenced to an external file resource.

This would be a design decision of the Trimble LayOut development team. Perhaps the Microsoft libraries to do this cost too much ? Perhaps it’d bloat the LayOut files too much? Perhaps it’d require that the user have MS Office installed? I do not known the real answer to specifically *.doc files.

There are newer opensource office formats based upon XML. OpenOffice and LibreOffice have gone to these formats. Excel *.xlsx is also a newer XML format that is insertable into LayOut as a table.

I do notice that we can insert plain text files and RTF.

Same questions / unknowns (said above about *.doc) apply to other proprietary formats. They would require rendering libraries to be displayed within LayOut. They may exist, may not, might be expensive etc. I don’t specifically know with regard to PDF which is owned by Adobe.

This is fine for RTF or TXT which are both plain text formats or industry standards, so there are not proprietary libraries required to work with them.

Are you again speaking of PDFs ?

You can open the PDF in it’s viewer and cut and paste text from there into LayOut.
I just tried it and it works well.

In addition, in Adobe Acrobat Reader there are export / save as options …


So there are some workflows. The Acrobat conversion choices have the Microsoft “invented” XML based office formats, but I’d like to see Adobe and LayOut support the industry standard XML Open Document formats.

As of now, you’d have to export the PDF to .docx, open that in LibreOffice/OpenOffice or MS Office, and save as .rtf or .txt (losing all formatting for the latter.)

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There are some posts that indicate that Apple Macs support PDF embedding natively.

In this topic … Insert multi-page PDF into layout 2017 for MAC the poster says he can see the first page (but only the first page.)

EDIT, here’s another: Need for more flexible text editor in LO

I wonder what i’d look like if opened on a MS Windows machine ?

ADD: still another which is a Feature Request thread: PDF Import Into Layout

I appreciate your taking the time to explain. I am attaching a jpg of one page of a 3 page GPI (grading pre inspection report) I had to insert. To do this I had to open the pdf in adobe acrobat and make 3 separate jpgs, one for each page, and insert them in the document as 3 separate inserted images.

It’s not a matter of copy and pasting the text, as in this case you have all the check boxes and on page one there is the City Of Los Angeles Building and Safety logo.

In the second example there’s the signature, the UL logo, the background design in addition to the text.

It’s not the lack of a workaround, it’s the cumbersomeness of the workaround. I see your point - there may be license costs, space limitations, etc. to use Adobe’s plugins, which I hadn’t considered.



By the way - I upgraded my ram from 8 to 32 - definitely improved things. Not perfect, but moving the images is quicker.