The "pesky" preview sketchup icon on a mac


Hi, Hope you can help?

For a few years now (and several macs) I have been unable to view a small icon of my model in the preview icon of my mac.

Today I chatted through with some windows users and under view / animations / settings (and in file) they have an option to tab to create the preview.

Please any suggestions on how I can save a model or view existing sketchup models with an icon preview.

Have an up to date mac, yosemite and sketchup 2015 pro.

Cheers in advance.


Preview of file on Mac and PC

For undisclosed reasons, SketchUp itself has never supported preview images or icons on Mac. Various authors (including me) have developed workarounds that are discussed in some detail over on sketchUcation (see the Tutorials forum, subject (TRICK) To re-enable skp file preview).


I found your “TRICK” on sketchUcation - but it is for PC
This thread was for Mac’s “preview sketchup icon on a mac“
Do you know of a Mac solution. ?


Look again! It’s a long topic, much of it indeed about PC, but the discussion about Macs starts about half way in.


I did read it over and it is such an older post that much of it is no
longer applicable to the mac systems that are out there today
Im looking for a plug-in that can create an icon image of the file.


I don’t know about the rest, but techniques involving colada exports, my QL generator and @driven’s icon stuff still work on Yosemite and SketchUp 2015. By the way, the lack of icons and preview is a known sore point among us Mac users - although the current system on Windows is reportedly causing some crashes, so maybe we are better off…


thanks - I will reevaluate.

Joe Medosch


Can you post a link to the topic here? Or even better, the solution?


There were several alternatives raised and discussed in that topic. You have to keep reading to find them all, as most of the discussion is about Windows. Here are a few direct entry points to starts of possible answers:

There is also john’s Add Icons

Preview of file on Mac and PC

@Alex, @slbaumgartner beat me to it but…

here’s the main gif…
there are a couple of others posted here…



The ideal solution would be if SketchUp itself automatically created and embedded an image at a documented place in the file (or with a documented SDK interface). Then a preview could just pick up that image and show it. Today there is a thumbnail saved in the file, but that fact is undocumented so there is no reliable way to access it. Also, unless it has been changed since I last looked, the thumbnail is quite low resolution, causing a complex model to preview as a nearly useless blob.


Steve, Batch Mode actually uses the SU stored image, but quality can vary between a v7 and a v15 saved model…
Another issue with that image is it’s updated with every save [+ autosave] using of the current framing and viewport ratio…
The stored image can be next to useless and natively mac will squeeze it into a square…

A better solution would be if SU natively did what it does already, but exposed that file to ‘Quicklook’ plus had an ‘Add Icon’ type native function that would overwrite the default thumbnail with your selected view, and suspending the default behaviour for that model…



By “reliable” I meant that since it is not officially documented even to exist, its location and properties can change at any time, even in a maintenance update. So using it for anything is a gamble…

Not sure what you mean by that. What file are you referring to? Do you mean the embedded thumbnail?


the documented


actually retrieves the embedded png file from the skp, which is why it works without opening the skp…
that’s what I utilise for ‘batch mode’ by using it for the resource fork image I attach to the file…
for the in SU single ‘Add Icon’, I simply create or overwrite my resource fork image and leave the embedded one alone…
It is ridiculous to need to append a copy, but that’s the best way I can find…



Oh, oh, I wonder if it is ince upgrade to OS X 10.12.4, but the making of icon preview is very unpredictable now! Sometimes works sometimes not. I’d say 50-50%. Seems to be depending of view, size and angle.


Hello folks,

This is the best thread I could find. I now have SketchUp 2017 installed on my MAC and I do see some of the thumbnail icons of my .skp files, but not all (…about 50% is working). Is this a problem for other SU 2017/MAC users out there? I have parallels installed, but it is a bit cumbersome to use this workaround all the time.


If you are seeing icons for about 50% of your files, I wonder if the ones that don’t have it are backup files : on a Mac they end with ~.skp, not .skb as on Windows. I don’t think they get the icon - but not at my computer, so can’t check this.


what you see on a mac are called Icon Previews…

they are saved in the skp file on any Save of the model…

if the View is blank [or badly framed] at the time of the Save, then so is the Icon Preview…

Given a good ‘Image’, the result you see depends on where your viewing the Icon Previews…

Each of the four Finder View types has it’s own set of options and some include an Icon Preview size…

below a certain size you will see the generic SU File Icon, a little larger can show as blank and much larger shows the Icon Previews…

Can you add a screen shot of where they are failing?



To: john_mcclenahan & john_drivenupthewall

Well, I have a lot of formfonts models. They all show up when I look them up in Windows 7, but 50% of them are just white as snow on my MAC. The way I have to fix this is by opening all of the blank .skp files and just save each one individually, then they get an icon preview. This is such a boring way of spending my time so I was hoping the guys at SketchUp were working on a fix for us MAC users. Before we MAC users did not have any icon previews for any of our .skp files, so things have gotten better I guess.

Update 16th of july 2017: I have just found a workaround to be able to browse my sketchup components while using my MAC. I just run Parallels Desktop with dual screens. (Btw: My “external monitor” is actually my new Ipad Pro running with the Duett app)


Yes, it appears to me also that you have to save a file explicitly under SketchUp 2017 before it gets a preview image or icon. While better than the days when SketchUp inexplicably provided a preview on Windows but not on Mac, it is somewhat of a hassle now to catch up. Also, it seems that the icon is generated based on the current view when you save the file, so if you have a preferred scene that you regard as best, you have to remember to switch to it before saving.