Installing SketchUp and Getting Help: Appendix A - Google Sketchup: The Missing Manual

by Chris Grover

As long as you're connected to the Internet with a Windows or Mac computer, it's easy to get a copy of SketchUp and to install it. This appendix explains how. It also shows you how to find help in SketchUp and from some outside sources.

Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual book cover

This excerpt is from Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual . Filled with step-by-step tutorials that will have you creating detailed 3-D objects quickly, Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual offers crystal-clear instructions for using every feature. You'll learn to use the basic tools, build and animate models, and place objects in Google Earth, with lots of real-world examples to show you how it's done.

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SketchUp is available in two versions: SketchUp (free) and SketchUp Pro ($495). For the differences between the two versions, see the section called “SketchUp vs. SketchUp Pro”. You can install either version of SketchUp on Windows or on Mac OS X. Installing SketchUp is a two-step process: First, download the program from Google's website. Then run the installation program on your system. Once it's installed, you start SketchUp like any program—from an icon on your desktop, from Windows' Start menu or Quick Launch toolbar, or from the Mac's Dock.

Downloading SketchUp

In your web browser, go to http://sketchup.google.com/. On the right side of the page, you see a big blue button that says "Download Google SketchUp". Click that to go to the downloads page. On the right side of the downloads page, you see another big blue button that reads "Download Google SketchUp Pro" (Figure A.1, “You'll find two links on the SketchUp download page. Clicking the big, fancy button downloads SketchUp Pro. Clicking the less conspicuous link downloads the free version of SketchUp.”). Below it you see a much less conspicuous link, "Download Google SketchUp 7".

When you download the free version of SketchUp, a web page asks you to provide an email address if you want to receive the Google SketchUp newsletter. When you download the Pro version, SketchUp asks you to provide a mailing address and other details. In either case you have to agree to Google's terms before you download and use the software. But before you read all those pages of legalese, rest assured that nothing unusual was in the terms at the time of this writing. Basically, you agree not to modify or reverse engineer the program, and not to sue Google or anyone else involved ("You agree to hold harmless and indemnify Google and its subsidiaries…") over anything to do with the program. Still, if you're concerned about protecting yourself, go ahead and read through the terms. (The terms for the Pro version include limits on installing the software on multiple computers or a network, and so on.)

Figure A.1. You'll find two links on the SketchUp download page. Clicking the big, fancy button downloads SketchUp Pro. Clicking the less conspicuous link downloads the free version of SketchUp.

You'll find two links on the SketchUp download page. Clicking the big, fancy button downloads SketchUp Pro. Clicking the less conspicuous link downloads the free version of SketchUp.

Before you download, you choose between operating systems: Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X (10.4 or later). The download goes fairly quickly. The name of the installation file stored on your computer varies depending on the operating system and the version that was downloaded.

Installing SketchUp in Windows

After you download SketchUp for Windows, you've got the SketchUp installer program on your computer. You may see links to the program on your computer desktop, but the program itself is probably stored in your Downloads folder. Your browser may prompt you to open or run the program. These options vary depending on your version of Windows, your settings, and the web browser you use.

Here are the steps for installing SketchUp on a PC:

  1. Run the SketchUp installer program: GoogleSketchUpWEN.exe (or Google-SketchUpProWEN.exe for SketchUp Pro).

    You may be prompted to open or run the installer from your web browser, or you may see links on your desktop. As a last resort, you can go to Start → Run (in Windows XP) or press the Windows key in Vista, and then begin to type the installer file name. A list appears in the Start window, where you can double-click the file name to run the installer.

    Windows displays a warning to make sure you want to run a program that was downloaded from the Internet. On Windows XP, you see a message box. On Vista, you see the User Account Control box, unless, like a lot of folks, you've turned UAC off.

  2. In the security warning window, click Run (Allow in Vista).

    A progress bar appears as Windows decompresses the downloaded files. Then the Google SketchUp 7 Setup window appears. At the bottom of the window you see Back, Next, and Cancel buttons that you can use throughout the installation.

  3. Click Next.

    The End-User License Agreement appears.

  4. Read the terms of the Agreement, turn on the "I accept the terms in the License Agreement" box, and then click Next.

    The Destination Folder panel appears with a text box displaying the suggested location to store the SketchUp application. Usually this path is C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 7.

  5. Click Next to accept the path.

    After you click Next, the "Ready to install Google SketchUp 7" panel appears.

    If you want to store the application in a different folder, click the Change button and browse to a new location. Then click OK.

  6. Click Install.

    A progress bar appears as the program is installed. When the process is complete, you see a message: "Completed the Google SketchUp Setup Wizard".

  7. Click Finish.

    The installer closes and SketchUp is ready to run. On your desktop, you'll find a shortcut to run the program. You can drag the shortcut to Windows' Quick Launch toolbar, making it easy to start the application in the future.

Tip

If you purchase SketchUp Pro, there's an extra step. After completing the online purchase, you get an email with an authorization code and serial number. You can authorize your copy of SketchUp the first time you use it, or later you can go to Help → License → Authorize. If you don't authorize your copy, the Pro features stop working after the 8-hour trial period.

Installing SketchUp on a Mac

Most of the time, the Google SketchUp Installer runs automatically after it's downloaded (the section called “Installing SketchUp”). The Install Google SketchUp Pro 7 window opens. Items displayed on the left side of the window list the steps to install the program, like Introduction, License, and Destination Select. In the lower-right corner are Continue and Go Back buttons that you can use throughout the installation process (Figure A.2, “The installers for Google SketchUp 7 and Google SketchUp Pro walk you through the installation. You fill in a few blanks, answer some basic questions, and click Continue.”).

Figure A.2. The installers for Google SketchUp 7 and Google SketchUp Pro walk you through the installation. You fill in a few blanks, answer some basic questions, and click Continue.

The installers for Google SketchUp 7 and Google SketchUp Pro walk you through the installation. You fill in a few blanks, answer some basic questions, and click Continue.

  1. Read the "Welcome to Google SketchUp" details and click Continue.

    The window changes to show the Software License Agreement.

  2. Read the license and if you agree, click Continue.

    A banner appears with Disagree and Agree buttons.

  3. If you want to continue to install the software, you must click Agree.

    When you click Agree, the window displays the next window—"Select a Destination". If you click Disagree, the installation program stops.

  4. Choose your hard drive as the destination, and then click Continue.

    The "Select a Destination" window shows places where you can install the program. The usual place to install SketchUp is your hard drive, which is usually called Macintosh HD. If you've renamed your hard drive, it will have the name you specified.

    When you click Continue, the Installation Type details are displayed. These details list how much space SketchUp needs.

  5. Click the Install button.

    On most systems, you see a message that says "Installer requires that you type your password." A box shows your account name, and another empty box is labeled "password". Mac OS X is telling you that it needs permission to install a program. If you're in charge of the computer, type in your password. If someone else manages the computer, you probably need their help to install the program.

  6. Type your password and click OK.

    A progress bar appears as the program is installed. When the process is complete, you see a Summary message that says "Install Succeeded".

  7. Click Close.

    The SketchUp application is ready to run. You can find the application in the Applications → Google SketchUp 7 folder. Drag the SketchUp icon to your Dock, and you can start SketchUp anytime with a single click.

If you installed SketchUp Pro, you can use the program for 8 days to see if it meets your needs. After that, you need to license (that is, pay for) the program to keep using it. To license the program, choose SketchUp → License → Purchase. You land at the Google website, where you can make an online purchase. After you pay, Google gives you a license number to enter in the SketchUp → Licenses window.

Getting Help for SketchUp

When it comes to help, SketchUp provides some good in-program help, a lot of web-based help tools, and some not so great help documents in PDF format. In addition a large community of SketchUp fans shares experiences, tips, and techniques. If you've got a question, you can find an answer someplace.

SketchUp Hints

As mentioned throughout this book, one of the first places to turn when you need help with a tool is the lower-left corner of the SketchUp window. Down in the status bar, SketchUp constantly provides tips and hints. When you pick a tool, the hints suggest what you should do next and let you know what modifier keys you can use. For example, if you select the Move tool and then hold it over an object in the drawing window, SketchUp helpfully suggests: "Pick two points to move." In addition you see tips on modifier keys that work with the Move tool: "Ctrl = toggle Copy, Alt = toggle Auto-fold, hold Shift = lock inference." The hints are brief and to the point. They're probably a little more helpful once you've learned some SketchUp basics.

The Instructor Window

The Instructor window (Windows → Instructor) provides quick information about specific techniques. The Instructor window combines brief step-by-step text with simple animations. It's helpful when you're learning a new tool or technique, and it doesn't disrupt the creative flow too much. Like the hints in the status bar, the Instructor window is linked to the tools you select. For example, click the Follow Me tool, and the Instructor window's animation shows a circle extruded along a path to a pipe-like shape (Figure A.3, “Click a tool, and the Instructor window gives you quick tips for using the tool. The Instructor window combines simple animations with brief step-by-step instructions.”). The text shows seven steps for using Follow Me. Below those instructions, the Instructor window lists the tool's modifier keys. At the very bottom, under Advanced Operations, you see links to related, web-based help files.

Figure A.3. Click a tool, and the Instructor window gives you quick tips for using the tool. The Instructor window combines simple animations with brief step-by-step instructions.

Click a tool, and the Instructor window gives you quick tips for using the tool. The Instructor window combines simple animations with brief step-by-step instructions.

SketchUp Help Center

What you see on SketchUp's Help menu is a little different from most programs. Most of the menu items are links to web-based resources. The link that most resembles a typical help tool is Help Center. Choose Help Center, and a page opens in your web browser (Figure A.4, “In SketchUp, click Help → Help Center, and this page opens in your web browser. Type a question or some key words in the Search box, and click Search SketchUp Help. The window displays the results of the search in true Google fashion.”). You still need to dig a bit to find the answer to a specific question. The quickest way to get an answer is to type a few words in the Search box and to click the Search SketchUp Help button. The next page you see resembles the results of a Google search. (Not surprised, are you?) Read the descriptions, and click the link that seems best suited to your question. You can always click the Back button on your browser to explore some of the other links. When you finally get to the help pages, you'll find some pretty clear, helpful information.

Figure A.4. In SketchUp, click Help → Help Center, and this page opens in your web browser. Type a question or some key words in the Search box, and click Search SketchUp Help. The window displays the results of the search in true Google fashion.

In SketchUp, click Help → Help Center, and this page opens in your web browser. Type a question or some key words in the Search box, and click Search SketchUp Help. The window displays the results of the search in true Google fashion.

In addition to the Search tool, the SketchUp Help Center displays links to other help resources. The links lead to a sprawling maze of help pages, contest announcements, and user forums. It's worth browsing around and looking for resources, because you can find some gems hidden there. For example, when you're new to SketchUp or you're researching a new tool, the Online Tutorials can be very helpful. You can use the link to the tutorials that is below the Search box, in the Learn More group. The video tutorials are also great when you're trying to get up to speed on a subject. On the right side of the Help Center, in the "Help resources" box, click Video Playlist.

Note

It's always a little risky pointing book readers to websites. Books last a long time, and aside from coffee spills and getting a little dinged up, they don't change much. Websites, on the other hand, change pretty quickly. These directions may lead to web resources that have changed. If that's the case, a Google search may very well lead you to the pages and tools you need.

Downloading SketchUp Documents

SketchUp is delivered to your computer from Google's website, so it comes as no surprise that you don't get a nice printed book to go along with the program. Few software companies provide printed manuals nowadays no matter how they deliver the application. Like most other companies, SketchUp offers documentation in a PDF file. You can view PDF documents with Adobe Reader (or Preview on the Mac).

At this writing, the SketchUp documents are serviceable but certainly not great. They're organized more as a reference than as a guide for newcomers. You may not want to print the nearly 900 pages, since many of the pages have only a few lines of text. Your best bet is to use the PDF document's search box to find answers.

To download PDF copies of the manual, in SketchUp choose Help → Online Help Center. Your web browser opens its main, web-based SketchUp help page for SketchUp. You see a Google Search box. Type manual, and among the search results (probably at the top of the list) you'll see an entry that reads, "Is there a manual available for SketchUp?" Bingo. Click this link, and it takes you to a page with links to several different versions of the SketchUp, LayOut, and Style Builder manuals. Google has versions for both SketchUp 6 and SketchUp 7, and versions for both PCs and Macs.

Google SketchUp Help Group

The Google SketchUp Help Group is an online forum where you can post questions and get answers from other experienced SketchUp users. To visit the group, go to http://groups.google.com/group/SketchUp. After you join the group, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions and find forums devoted to SketchUp issues and techniques (Figure A.5, “The SketchUp Help Group is the official community for SketchUp and SketchUp Pro. You can join the group for free, and participate in the online discussions.”).

Figure A.5. The SketchUp Help Group is the official community for SketchUp and SketchUp Pro. You can join the group for free, and participate in the online discussions.

The SketchUp Help Group is the official community for SketchUp and SketchUp Pro. You can join the group for free, and participate in the online discussions.

Third-Party Help and Tutorials

A huge community of SketchUp fans has stories to tell and help to offer. Here are just some of the websites where you can find help and tutorials:

Figure A.7. If you're looking for the admiration of your SketchUp peers, click the "Contests and Competitions" link on the right side of the Google SketchUp Blog. You'll find out how to enter modeling contests, and see lists of winners for some of the many competitions.

If you're looking for 
                            the admiration of your SketchUp peers, click the "Contests and Competitions" link on the right side of the Google SketchUp Blog. You'll find out how 
                            to enter modeling contests, and see lists of winners for some of the many competitions.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual .