SketchUp training blog
What’s new in SketchUp 2021?

In mid-November 2020, after what seemed like only a couple of months since the release of SketchUp 2020 (it was actually 10 months) SketchUp 2021 was released.

So, what’s new in this major release?

The first thing you’re likely to notice are the new logo icons for SketchUp and its application suite.

The red SketchUp branding, around since 2012, has gone, replaced by a set of blue logos to make SketchUp feel more like part of the Trimble family. The new SketchUp logo is quite clever, in that it incorporates the letters SU (for SketchUp) and 3D. (You may have to look at it for a while to see these letters 😀.)

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The significant enhancements introduced include improved tag management incorporating tag folders and tag filters, parametric control of live components and PreDesign, a new web application for early-stage design research.

This post takes a look at these and other improvements SketchUp 2021 brings.

Improved Tag Management

Complex models requirement the management of long lists of tags and scenes. SketchUp 2021 makes this much easier with the introduction of Tag Folders and Tag Filtering.

You can organise tags into Tag Folders. You can then:

  • Control the visibility of all tags contained in the folder.
  • Expand and collapse folders, making it easier to scan your tag structure and find the tags you need.
  • Drag and drop tags in or out of folders as required.
SketchUp 2021 Tag Folders

Tag Folders are also available in LayOut, and scenes remember the visibility of your tags and tag folders across SketchUp and LayOut.

In the same way that you could previously filter in the Outliner panel, you can now filter in the Tags panel. This makes it a lot easier and quicker to search for tags in your model.

Just type in the name or prefix in the Filter field to show only the tags you need at the moment. When viewing a filtered set of tags, you can Shift-click to select all tags, then toggle their visibility in one step.

SketchUp 2021 Tag Filter


A brand-new web app has been developed to help you assess the local environment – climate and sun orientation – surrounding your project before you start modelling. Understanding the predominant and seasonal climate that might affect the comfort and lighting of built spaces will help you adopt correct design strategies, resulting in improving design outcomes.

As well as providing this information, PreDesign suggests effective glazing, shading and lighting for each face of your building.

Predesign is completely stand-alone – you don’t even need to have started creating your model. It can be accessed via SketchUp’s File menu, or directly in your web browser at

SketchUp Labs

This is a new programme that makes new features available to users whilst they’re still under development, albeit at a late stage. This gives users access to features that the team at Trimble feel will be useful in their current stable, but possibly unpolished, state.

If you make use of a feature from the Labs program, you’re encouraged to provide feedback and join in conversations in the SketchUp Community forums, to help shape the direction of these features.

The first new feature being released through SketchUp Labs is Live Components, which brings us neatly onto the next new feature…

Live Components

A new type of configurable object has been introduced in SketchUp 2021: Live Components. Similar to dynamic components, Live Components let you:

  • Customize dimensions and sizes for repeated object use.
  • Quickly add rich context and adjust in real-time to produce more detailed designs in less time.
  • Rapidly iterate large sets of components all at once as project requirements change.

This provides your models with a new dimension of richness, enabling easy iterations and rapid change.

Live Components are available to download from 3D Warehouse (navigate to the new SketchUp Labs Live Component collection.

Once you’ve downloaded a Live Component, you can configure it in SketchUp 2021.

In future releases you’ll be able to design your own live components, but in the meantime there’s a growing library available in 3D Warehouse to choose from.

Other minor improvements

  • Two-finger Pan & Zoom

One for Mac users who don’t have a mouse. (SketchUp users without a mouse? Apparently, they exist!)

‘Enable two-finger Pan’ (available in General preferences) optimises trackpad use when navigating in LayOut. A two-finger swipe pans across the page (instead of zooming), and a two-finger pinch zooms. You can toggle between pan and zoom with a two-finger swipe by holding the Command key.

  • New .skp file format

As Autodesk typically do every three years with AutoCAD’s .dwg file format, Trimble have updated the .skp file format.

This new format brings efficiency improvements, significantly reducing file sizes and making SketchUp models more compatible across different versions.

It won’t be possible to open 2021 models in SketchUp 2020 or earlier versions, but you always have the option of ‘down-saving’ it to an earlier version if necessary.

  • Generate Report

The Generate Report window has been completely rebuilt. No new features have been introduced at this point, but Trimble say that this rebuild is to prepare for future functionality. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few Generate Report updates bring!

  • Auto-fixing of problems

Prior to SketchUp 2021, if problems were detected in your model, you were offered options to “fix the problems now or ignore”. SketchUp 2021 is just going to fix the problems without your permission. You can set your preferences to be notified when problems are fixed, and see a summary of the changed made, if you want to.


The improved tag management, Live Components and Predesign are all welcome enhancements that, like the updates introduced in SketchUp 2020, will improve efficiency and make your day-to-day work easier.

There’s not much new for LayOut, but that got plenty of attention in the 2020 release.

I’m most looking forward to what we’ll be seeing in the next few updates for Live Component and Generate Report.

Armada offers SketchUp training to users at all levels.

For information about our two-day introductory- and intermediate-level SketchUp 2021 courses, see Introduction to SketchUp and Intermediate SketchUp.

For details about the other SketchUp courses available, see SketchUp follow-on courses.

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