Yet another sad sad Mac materials question. Is it possible to edit?

Two part question:

Is there a way to permanently rename a material on a Mac?

When “editing” a material from within sketchup there is a name entry window that appears to start out with the file name of the material. If I type in a new name (and press return) then the new name appears in this slot but the material file remains unchanged in it’s folder (.skm). And If I apply that saved material to a new object in that session the new object has the modified name, but if I shut down and restart Sketchup all names are back to their original names, the name edits are gone. What does that material name window actually do, why is it there? Likewise if I go into the actual materials files on the HD and rename a .skm file, that new name does not appear as the material name back in Sketchup, the old name persists. Can someone help me understand how the .skm file relationship works here, I must be missing something.

Is there really a way to edit a material in an outside program on Mac and have it update in the model?
Is anybody able to make this work? I understand there is a bug on Mac which prevents whatever editing software I use from saving over the original file automatically. I have been trying a work around I read, to open a material via -right click-texture-edit texture image then make a simple edit then save-as and try replace the original material by navigating to the appropriate folder and overwriting the old one. Besides being completely lame and negating the whole point of having a quick edit option, it does not work to update the material in my model because I cannot save as a .skm out of a graphic editor. I know there must be the original .jpg zipped up in the .skm but how do I edit that? Again, I must be missing something here, besides a PC.


You edit the bitmap image of a material by clicking the icon to the right of the name in the material window, mousing over, the icon says “edit texture image in external editor”. It does nothing to the name in SketchUp. It can be edited in you chosen pixel editor.

You can only modify the SketchUp materials that are in the Model section of the Material library list : “Colors in Model”. Perhaps you are trying to rename materials that are in the other libraries. To save a material that you’ve renamed or edited, you can put them into your personal Material collection. But in any case the material names you made in the model SHOULD be there when you reopen the model.

Some rendering programs can alter the model materials.

That’s your problem. You should never save as or bother yourself with any of the material files. Ever.

Just edit the material and hit save. Go back to sketchup and it will be updated automatically. It’s totally separate from the originally material graphic file you may have started with and it’s hidden for a reason.

I won’t defend the Mac materials editor. I’ve made my feelings clear about its poor design in the past.

A .skm file is actually a zip archive. The material name is contained (redundantly - I don’t know why) in entities of a couple of xml files in the archive. When you save a material, SketchUp sets the file name to match the material name. But that isn’t a technical requirement. SketchUp actually ignores the file name. So, renaming a file will actually have no effect. This is the same on PC as on Mac.

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Thanks for the replies folks:

Yes, you are both describing the intended sketchup behavior I expect to use as well, however this path currently fails for me. If this works for either of you can you tell me what graphic editor you are using so I can try to duplicate your process here.

Agreed, I was driven to attempt the work around because simply closing or saving the edited file invariably fails for me.

I agree this should work. I’m still trying to figure out why created textures in my own folders revert to their original imported file names each time sketchup restarts. I was wondering about a rendering interfering too but I though i had removes all in the course of trouble shooting this, I’ll check again for any older render extension is hiding in the background.

I’ve just read this more closely and it prompts a more specific question. I am trying to rename a material I imported that is saved in a material list I created. What I want is to rename the material, close the program, open a new file, and see that name in the materials when I go to my custom material list (even though Mac has no list view). Regardless of whatever model is open, I want this material permanently renamed in my custom list.

I find GIMP is good, but it should work with Preview, depending on what you typically need to do.

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I think in this case you have to save it to the list again. Changing it in any model, name etc. won’t change the collection.

So… the plot thickens. I have determined that the failure to save material edits and update to the model is a product of the graphic editor I was using. I tired Preview app and Gimp which both of which fail to save over the original file. I switched to Affinity Designer and now saving the file successfully updated the material. I hope this might save other Mac users some headache.

After edit I noticed that the thumbnail does not update, so It’s hard to know material I edited if there are several similar (also because i cannot see the name in the list, grrrr). Interestingly, If I duplicate the edited version using the duplicate option inside the sketchup editor, I get an un-edited version, so Sketchup is somehow keeping an original version somewhere?

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Huh, I cannot get preiveiw or Gimp to work. If you save the file in Gimp it does not make an XCF file?

In GIMP when you “export”. It should give you the option in the menu to OVERWRITE the file. Be sure to wait for the additional pop-up window on on making export (sort of non-Mac-like) to finish the export.

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I tested with using Photoshop, and some things weren’t entirely smooth. At first I didn’t have the option to edit the material (which I made as a duplicate). I went into Preferences and set Photoshop 2020 to be my bitmap editor, but had to quit and open SketchUp to get the edit button.

Once I had edited the material and done a save, the material thumbnail hadn’t updated. But, I hadn’t saved the SKP by then. Now that I have the SKP saved I can edit the material and any changes I do immediately show up in the thumbnail.

But, I just did a test with Gimp, and can see your problem. Instead of choosing Save, choose File/Overwrite MaterialName.jpg, where MaterialName would be the name of your material.

It then does update the material and it’s thumbnail.


I see the problem with Preview, it doesn’t let you modify the original. I’ll check with colleagues on Monday about that.


I use Photoshop. But any image editor will work. Preview isn’t an image editor.

Right, this is what I was trying to get at by saving as, thanks for the tip. If I want to go back to gimp I’ll use this overwrite method. I have changed to Affinity for now to avoid having this export step.

For some things I like using Preview as a very quick image editor. In this case I need to open the .PNG texture, magic wand select one color area, delete that to reveal a transparent background, and adjust color of the remaining bit, maybe crop a bit. All very quickly done in Preview if the .png was sitting on my desktop, but in and out of Sketchup it can’t modify the original document so the edits are lost.

Thanks for playing around with this Colin, I feel like I’m a little less crazy. Getting Preview to work as editor would be cool, but I’m really focused now on trying to understand how/if renaming and list organization works. I think you might be right that saving the file triggers some sort of link update on the thumbnail, behavior is slightly different with a saved file. I’m having random success renaming materials in my saved lists sometimes, but inexplicably sometimes I get a duplicate material with the old name appearing after restart and other times the name just fails to take and no duplicate is created. All documented behavior I see from other threads, but I can’t grasp the logic of the failure yet, the pattern seems so random.

For now I’d settle for simply being able to remove some of the textures I’ve been using to test with. I have tried removing individual materials, and also removing an entire list. Both appear to go away but return on restart. Guess I’ll have to delete the folders from the HD to manage my lists. Hard to believe we have a “remove” button (with a delete warning no less) that still does nothing after at least two years going now.

@Barry or @john_drivenupthewall , is the Mac materials situation any different on Sketchup19? That would be enough to get me to switch.

I remembered something about this. Remove removes the material from this model. It intentionally doesn’t remove it from your materials folder because the same material may be needed by other models. If you want to delete the material globally, like when you know for sure the material isn’t used anywhere else, you can go into ~/Library/Application Support/SketchUp 2019/SketchUp/Materials and delete the file itself.

Maybe, but it seems fishy. I would use purge for that. You are saying if I delete a material in might effect other models using that material? Are materials for individual models not saved inside the model file? Are you saying if I remove material from two years ago and then open the two year old file the material will be gone from the model? No it’s still there. And one can remove an old material that is not in the current model, even remove materials with no model open. or one that has never been in a model . Is this “safety feature” the way it works on windows? Are PC users navigating to the materials folder to delete their files? I think it’s more likely that it’s a material management tool that simply doesn’t work.

Even if that were intended behavior, What does remove list do? Why is it there.

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Yes, very confusing and frustrating.
Having switched multiple times from platform, it was even more confusing.
The main reason for this (for me) is that you can’t organize your materials on a Mac with the folder approach (in the Windows panel you can drag from one to another) simply because there are no nested folders. Mac uses flat lists, only, the skm’s in a folder are that list, with the name of that folder.

Folder name=List name
So you cannot simply have an organized folder structure like ‘Wood->Veneer->etc because that wouldn’t be read by the colorpanel.

Furthermore, Finder actions (moving skm to other folders) while having an open session in SketchUp, do not affect the loaded lists (!)

SketchUp reads the lists upon opening. In order to see Finder changes in SketchUp, you would have to close down and start SketchUp, all the time.

Because the remove and edit actions in SketchUp won’t affect the actual lists, but merely the ‘In Model’ list only, I always suggest to actually use SketchUp Models as ‘Collections of Materials’
A SketchUp model acting as the ‘holder of the materials’, only.

Start with an empty Model, collect or edit the materials you need and duplicate the ‘In Model’ List.
Rename to whatever. This list is then saved in the folder which is set in SketchUp->Preferences->Files
(Note that, upon opening SketchUp, SketchUp reads this personal or account folder as well as the Resources folder for the standard material lists.

Being on multiple machines and constantly reinstalling SketchUp for support issues, I have found that that standard location for my collections or lists is cumbersome.

The 3D Warehouse, however, has the ability to drag one material from a model. You can also make collections with models in the collection (or have nested collections).
And it is available on all platforms and machines (if you have internet)
You can have it set ‘private’ or ‘public’

Furthermore, you can have multiple ways of organizing:
Collections of manufacturers, Models for clients (‘I want the same grout color as the bathroom you did last year’) Moods etc.

If you don’t want to use the 3D Warehouse, a simular approach could be made with opening a new tab in SketchUp with the model that acts as a list (Name them properly)

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I guess I don’t have a problem with what you describe but Preview DOES seem to not work properly for this purpose any longer. As far as GIMP goes, you don’t “avoid” the export, that is how you get an image file from GIMP instead of saving a GIMP file. It works great. I also don’t deal a lot with material collections. I build materials in each file , but I see that there is a disconnect where SketchUp invites you to “Remove” files from collections and doesn’t follow through.

I too am seeking to do all texturing outside SketchUp as possible. Beyond some simple coloring, it’s such a waste of time, especially on the Mac. If I had the time I’d do a video–it would consist mostly of spinning beachballs in any case.

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