Dave Richards, SketchUp, Tim Killen
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SketchUp Tip: Get to Know the Scroll Wheel

Critical - learn what the scroll wheel does.

Critical – learn what the scroll wheel does.

When watching a video showing SketchUp instruction, one of the things I pay attention to is how the mouse is being used.

In my early days of using SketchUp, I was always intrigued by people like Tim Killen and Dave Richards because they could so effortlessly move around a model (there are plenty of things they do which still intrigue me). I later learned how this was possible – it was through activating the mouse scroll wheel, usually in conjunction with some other action. Forget grabbing the pan tool, or clicking on the zoom tool, or reaching for the orbit tool. Eliminating these extra steps starts with the scroll wheel.

A close-up of the Quick Reference Card.

A close-up of the Quick Reference Card.

The two images you see above are from SketchUp’s Quick Reference Card (download it here). When I first saw this card, I was a little overwhelmed by all the information it attempts to communicate. In fact the printer I used at the time had a hard time clearly printing the tiny font used. But, the Quick Reference Card contains many golden nuggets of tips leading to SketchUp ease.

In my humble opinion, the mouse is a much overlooked SketchUp tool. So, let’s see what it can do…

  • Zoom – this one is easy; rolling the scroll wheel forward and backwards zooms in and out. Pretty standard stuff.
  • Orbit – depressing the scroll wheel and moving the mouse around enables you to orbit left and right, up and down. For some crazy motion, depressing the control key while orbiting disables “gravity-weighted” orbiting; check it out.
  • Pan – by depressing the scroll wheel, holding down the shift key and moving the mouse all at the same time enables you to pan left and right.
  • Center your view – Double click using the scroll wheel centers your view using your pointer’s position as a guide.

The pan feature takes a little practice; tricky for the uncoordinated like me. Working in SketchUp using these tips affords you the ability to go from one tool to the next quickly. In time you will be able to seamlessly switch from zoom, to orbit and pan.

Plus these actions can be utilized while actually using another tool. Let’s say you are moving a component and you have the move tool selected. But you need to orbit and zoom in to better view where you want the component to land. Activating the scroll wheel tips momentarily interrupts the tool being used and returns to that tool instantly. Pretty cool.

All of this may not seem like a big deal, but I have found it to be just that.

What you don’t sometimes see in tutorial videos are the SketchUp keyboard shortcuts. They are equally important to know, but I’ll save them for another blog post.

The SketchUp Pro Quick Reference Card is (c) 2013 by Trimble.

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