Tagging System


I still use Sketchup 2019, because updating didn’t seem to be worth it. Now I saw the change from layers to tags and thought this might finally be a reason to switch because having the ability to give objects mutiple tags would be really nice for toggling visibility and setting up scenes. To my surprise I found, that this is not possible and requires (paid) third party tools.

Am I right in this assumption? Why would you call it tags then, if they are still layers? What’s the benefit?
I realize that you can group them now, but this doesn’t really help (and should have been possible from day one honestly).

Is this really it?

Yes. You can only give one tag to a group or component.

They aren’t still layers. The term layers implies there’s a hierarchy and that something on one layer can be above something on another layer. This works in 2D applications like Photoshop or even LayOut. It doesn’t appply in SketchUp. Layers/Tags do not provided separation between geometry. The name was changed a few versions back in an attempt to help users make proper use of them. That is, all edges and faces are created and remain untagged, only groups and components are given tags. Really the same rule applied when they were called layers.

If you feel the need to control the visibility of an object with more than one tag, created nesting with groups/components and give each object level a different tag. It worked that way when they were called layers, too.

Calling them tags also helps to prevent confusion in LayOut since it has layers and you can control visibility of tags in model viewports within LayOut.

Please update your forum profile. It’s out of date.

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Thanks for the clarification. I still think that it would much more useful to to give multiple tags.

To give an example, if I draw kitchen furniture (U-shape) and want to have 3 Views (N,E,W) it would be nice to tag the furniture with “North”, “East”, “West”, as well as “Furniture” or “Wall”.
Instead I have to do “Furniture North”, “Furniture East”, “Wall West”, etc.

The nesting doesn’t help help here as far as I can see.

What you describe sounds to me as if it would add a great deal of complexity to the modeling process. There are easier ways to manage that. I’m headed out the door at the moment but if no one else gives you a simpler method I will when I come back.

Thanks, I’m staying tuned.

Regarding the complexity, maybe I’m not making myself clear. It’s difficult to describe.
In my view the process would be as simple as draw all the components, tag them accordingly, make scenes for the different views and show / hide objects by corresponding tag.

Ok, I got It now. You give all the furniture the tag “Furniture”, all walls the tag “Wall” and than group the ones north and tag the group with “North”. Ok this seems to work out. Thanks for the help.
To my brain multiple tags seem more intuitive, still.

You can work with different groups or components for north east and west, and set which ones are going to be visible on every scene, the outliner is the best tool to help you do that, scenes remember the hidden objects beside hidden tags or layers in your case. Personally I would use section planes to see the different elevations of any project, scenes also remember what sections are active, so if you change from one scene to another the active section will change, that way if you want to show an east elevation the west won’t be shown cause the section will hide the furniture.

‘Tags’ does imply that any object could have more than one tag. SketchUp doesn’t do that yet. I’m not sure what the future plans are.

In the meantime there are Tag folders. You could tag a set of objects as being Chimney, for example, and hide those by turning off the Chimney tag. It, and other tags, could all be in a Tag folder named Roof. Now you can hide either just the Chimney, or the entire Roof.

The nesting approach is what you had to do before Tag folders was added.

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The chimney wouldn’t lite up unless the roof is turned on, though:)

Eg. It is still a ‘nested’ structure…

slightly off topic

The only place in SketchUp where ‘Layers’ work the same as layers in other (2D) applications is in the Watermarks of the Styles. There, the order determines the visibility of the watermarks and model space.
Another category is classification tags. One can assign more than one classification tag, but there is no native way to select or ‘show only’.

@MikeWayzovski : Exactly, tag folders don’t solve that problem either.

The limiting factor is thinking of tags in a hierarchical way. That’s why I said they are basically still layers.
I also get that layers have been renamed because of ambiguity with the layers in layout, but after some thought I have to disagree with @DaveR regarding the comparison with Photoshop. I think that’s exactly how they are used in Sketchup, but because of the 3D space it’s not a matter of “above” or “below”. It’s about separation. And this is the part where layers or tags in their current state fall short, because they are hierarchical when nested.

On a sidenote, I think a system which allowed objects to have multiple tags would be greatly benefitial in other areas as well. It would really simplify object filtering for plugins, for example.

Just for clarification, I use sketchup as a professional furniture maker. I dont’t really know the workflow of other trades.

The ‘limiting’ factor is basically the hierarchy in the model tree or outliner. Objects refer to groups and components. A component is like a little SketchUp model nested inside the main model.
It’s strength is that any instance of that definition is altered when editing.
It’s weakness is that a ‘Group’ is merely a Component that is made unique.
It is therefore not to be considered to be the same as groups in Excel and within other reporting mechanisms (eg. ‘Group by’ in Generate report)

One has to decide from which level one stops nesting in order to get reports. (Cabinet kan consist of boards, hinges, grips, legs, etc. A kitchen consists of several cabinets and a building can have more than one kitchen)
SketchUp has only one current ‘context’ and therefore it is not possible to have all the hinges in a group unless you edit the cabinet component and actually create a group.

So, in general, one can use the power of components (have custom libraries and or Dynamic components) to create and setup your main model, but when it’s time to get more detailed reports and think about organization (what to order, who does what) one might have to spent some time in outliner.

Reporting is also a lot easier when you add more data (eg. Classifications, advanced attributes, Dynamic Componet attributes).

Then, ‘Group by’ makes more sense inside Generate report.

To have more Building Information one can also explore Trimble Connect. Trimble Connect treats each ( lowest!) Component object as one and the data in the Datatable can be easily adjusted for reporting. With the right plan, one can also make use of some the advanced workflow extensions, where you can set up rules to control grouping and add more data to the elements.

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As a designer who uses both applications daily and have done so for decades, I have to respectfully state that the layers in sketchup don’t operate anything like layers in photoshop. Layers in photoshop are literally above and below each other, which obviously SU doesn’t and cannot do. At most they are similar in that you can toggle views.

@MikeWayzovski I get that. To be clear, I think that the hierarchical structure of models and components makes sense and is an important concept. The ability to use multiple tags per object would add the benefit of being able to create different “views” into the same data. These structures could co-exist without problems.

Think of it like a filemanager. There is a hierarchical relationship between folders, subfolders and files and if I delete a folder the subfolders also get removed. On the otherhand I can view a listing of all images, regardless of the folders they’re in.

@monospaced I never said that they “operate” the same. I said they are “used” in the same way, meaning separation. In Photoshop you don’t just put stuff on layers to stack them in a certain order. A lot of times you do it to separate the data, if for example you want to apply layer-effects. The concept of “above” and “below” is obviously relative in a camera based 3d environment.

In Ps or Illustrator, even LayOut etc. layers isolate geometry or pixels or whatever. Tags in SKP do not do that, and never have. You can use them to control visibility of groups or components, but not isolate individual lines or planes. You cannot isolate lines or planes by using tags. That is a recipe for trouble, and in my basic classes we go over that extensively.

First rule of SketchUp Club is ‘make it a component’ is what I teach my students.


Except, just to be clear, Tags or “Layers” no matter what their name do not and have never separated geometry.

Also…. Multi tagging would be great. But implementation raises a few tricky questions.


I know that. The emphasis is on the word USED. I would never spread the geometry of one coherent object over multiple layers.

Also the Implementation should not be so difficult. It’s basically just a list of tags with references to components.

Are you a programmer? If so, can you provide a pseudo-code example of how you would do what you suggest? If you are not a programmer, please refrain from stating uninformed opinions about whether something should be easy to implement. It’s like telling a brain surgeon that his task is simple: 'just open ‘em up, cut out the bad part, and close the hole’.


You should teach and help out clients. You’d be surprised at what people who are generally intelligent end up doing…

Yeah, no. The few plugins that do this (from what I know, and I don’t code) make use of some behind the scenes black magic using object hidden / unhidden states that automagically get written to the scene information to control ‘multi tag’ visibility.

This isn’t instagram where you can tag your photos with 30 different topics and pull them up based on a few of them. In my understanding of wishing this were real and talking to people it’s a whole spiderweb of issues to sort out…

But I second the other poster. Maybe you can jump into the existing Ruby API and figure it out. I would pay good money for it…

Ok, regarding the usefulness of multiple tags per object, I think I made my thoughts clear.

Regarding the implementation, if the sketchup codebase or ruby api don’t allow a sane implementation of this kind of feature, then so be it. I won’t go into a discussion about software architecture here.