SketchUp for Mac



I am just wondering if anybody out there also has issues with SketchUp performance on a Mac. I am not talking about low end Mac’s here, but Macs with mid to upper range specifications?



What kind of problems are you having?


I’m working on this late 2015 model. Not the top end spec available to order, but the most capable of the three off-the-shelf models then available in the UK from Apple.

It has a Fusion hybrid SSD/HDD 2TB Apple hard drive.

It struggles a bit (sometimes a lot) with a 220MB model, 17million edges, but only if I’m not careful to turn off ‘heavy’ component layers. With all layers on, though, it more or less collapses under the strain, and can take from tens of seconds to minutes to respond to a mouse click to select something.

For all smaller models (10s of MB max) that I work with, it is pretty nippy.

What specific issues are you having?



I am working on a 21.5 in, Late 2009, 3.06 GHz Intel Duo, 8 GB RAM, with an NVIDIA GeForce 256MB graphics card. And also use a MacBook Pro (late 2015), 256 GB SSD, 16Gigs Ram, 2,2GHz Intel graphics card.

I understand that SU2017 is not supported by the intel graphics card, and that the desktops 256MB graphics card is not ideal.

Nonetheless, the desktop worked fine on SU15, then not so great on SU16 and now it is a lot worse. I am working on a very small file, and even so, I prepare all my scenes individually, then explode the lot and position on the main drawing - there goes the interaction!

I will pop into the iStore in the morning, with the intent of loading SU on one of their latest demo machines to test it out, but it would be great if SU can make recommendations on ‘ideal’ Macs. I see John McClenehan has posted a useful link to a Mac he is using, this is probably beyond my financial reach.

It seems that the ‘standard’ South African models available from Mac wont make the grade.


Hi John,

I am really trying to understand what is the main component that determines how ‘fast’ the program runs. From my experiences over the last 2 years, it seems that the hard drive (SSD or other), the amount of RAM and the processor are secondary to the Graphics card. I am just trying to understand the process SU uses, so that I can work out where to make concessions. At the moment it feels much like a hit and miss affair. I have looked at a similar model you mention here, the price just goes through the roof. Reverting to a PC is not an option!


What would you have to pay in SA for, and can you get, a 21in iMac?

The collaborator with whom I am working on this monster model used a 9-year old 21" iMac until recently, when he upgraded to an even higher spec iMac than mine, and it was working tolerably well on older and smaller versions of the same model.

He also has a few-year-old MacBook which works ok, he says - certainly on smaller models, though it struggles on this one if one is careless about leaving too many layers ‘on’.

My impression (others may correct me) is that SU2017 REQUIRES not only a graphics card that fully supports OpenGL 3.0 or better, but works faster with a good one.

In general, I read here, nVidia graphics cards support OpenGL better than AMD Radeon, but my iMac has a Radeon card and seems fine on SU 2017.


This iMac goes for R31000 (£500), am wondering if if should add another 8GB RAM. Could you advise me on the Radeon pro and video memory ?


not £500 … more like £1950 !


The last iMac with nVidia was a 27’’ late 2013 , 2GB I bought one at the time they were introducing the retina screens on iMac. I figured : I will go with a lesser screen but with a nVidia card. Processor speed is more important , I guess.


Probably the biggest effect on how fast SketchUp runs is the single-core speed of the CPU, which depends on the clock speed and CPU type. A faster clock speed will make SketchUp faster, as will a chip with inherently faster internals (e.g. i7 vs i5, and newer generation vs older). However, SketchUp uses only a single CPU core, so 4 vs 2 cores (or more) does not matter unless you run external renderers that can use multiple cores.

I would opt for a model with at least 16GB of RAM. When you work with a very large model, SketchUp is inevitably going to slow down on some operations. It’s not easy to determine definitely how much of the slowdown is due to overwhelming the CPU vs using too much memory, but since the whole computer will slow down if you “overbook” memory, it is better to have some headroom.

Unless you work on models with massive amounts of geometry and numerous textured materials, the graphics chip will have a lesser impact. This is good, because you have limited choices of graphics chips on Macs. In general, you should avoid models that offer only Intel Integrated Graphics because those share memory with the CPU instead of having their own dedicated memory. Sharing memory is slower and pushes you up against the memory ceiling with a smaller SketchUp model. Apple has started putting additional Radeon graphics into its higher-end models, vs the NVidia ones they formerly used. I have no experience with the Radeon, but I suppose it is OK as we aren’t seeing a lot of complaints here on the forum (my mid-2012 MacBook Pro has NVidia graphics). The graphics mainly influences the responsiveness of operations such as orbit, pan, and zoom, but can also affect the speed at which the CPU can communicate the geometry to the graphics for rendering and the time for the graphics to show it.

Having an SSD is, in my opinion, essential in any modern computer. The speed of SSD is dramatically faster than a hard-drive. This will directly affect almost everything you do that accesses files, such as the time for opening and saving SketchUp models. It will also affect the degree of slowdown if you overbook memory (because the system handles the overbooking by copying some of the memory contents back and forth to disk). However, unless you need to keep a lot of huge models active at the same time, you don’t need an enormous SSD. With a hybrid drive or an external drive and a bit of discipline, you can migrate the model files you aren’t actively working onto the non-SSD.


Thank you Dan, for this comprehensive response.

I am beginning to think that my iMac has reached it ‘sell-by’ date! What is intriguing though is that the MacBook Pro (mid 2015) has similar issues, although in this instance it may have something to do with the size of the processor (2,2GHz).

I must also stress that this issue about being slow does not pertain to SU, but more to Layout. SU is great, works OK, even on big models, it is Layout which is driving me up the wall!




i have just looked at the size of the project I am working on. Just a few scenes on a very small house = 334mb!! With a copy/paste to a new blank drawing, this reduced to 17mb! Obviously not purging, but where can one do this?


As slbaumgartner says above, “you should avoid models that offer only Intel Integrated Graphics…”, well I didn’t when I bought a new iMac last year. The Apple Store genus led me to believe that this feature made it the optimal one for running SketchUp.

I’m very pleased with how Sketchup is working, not so much pleased with Layout. Clunky navigation is the worst of it, Layout’s a laggard compared to its other half. I’m guessing that you’ll have a better chance of improving the performance of Layout if you follow the Sage’s recommendations. I’m checking to see which spec’s, beside memory, I can upgrade now.

The spec’s for my off-the-shelf model. $1,900 can

3.1 GHz Intel Core i5
8 GB 1867 MHz DDR3
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 1536 MB


Window>Model Info>Statistics.


Ok, but in Layout?


File>Document Setup>References.


That has been the problem all along it seems. With a simple purge the file dropped from 334 mb to 17mb!


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