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SketchUp was introduced in August 2000 as a general-purpose 3D content creation tool. It was developed by start-up company @Last Software, Colorado, U.S.A. SketchUp's tag-line was 3D For Everyone because it offered an easy to learn, simple interface that was user-friendly and fun to use.

It was the first design program created for design novices. Design professionals who used SketchUp could draw by emulating the feel and freedom of working with pencil and paper in a way that was not possible with traditional design software. Due to its Push/Pull technology SketchUp was granted a U.S. Patent in September 2003.

At around the time that @Last Software was developing a plugin for Google Earth, Google acquired the company in March 2006 for an undisclosed sum.

As of SketchUp 4 software extensions written in the Ruby programming language have become a part of the SketchUp toolkit. The Ruby console also became available which allowed experimentation with Ruby. Additional information about Ruby can be found later on in this article.

Google released Google SketchUp 6 in January of 2007. It included integrated tools for uploading content to Google Earth and to Google 3D Warehouse. It could save models in over half a dozen different file extensions and could export own screenshots into various formats. As is usual in the software industry it was missing some of the functionality of SketchUp 6 Pro, SketchUp's paid version.

SketchUp 7 was released in November of 2008. This version included changes that made it even easier to use, added dynamic components, and included integration of SketchUp's Component Browser with Google 3D Warehouse. Support for Windows 2000 ended at this time.

SketchUp 8 included model geolocation with Google Maps in addition to Building Maker integration. It was released early in September of 2010. Although it was the longest running version of Mac OS X, SketchUp support for Mac OS X Tiger was wound down. SketchUp 8 would be the final version of SketchUp that was allowed to be used commercially as an unpaid version.

Trimble Inc. (formerly Trimble Navigation) acquired SketchUp from Google early in June of 2012. The amount that Trimble paid Google for this acquisition is not known. In May of 2013 Trimble released SketchUp 2013. Extension Warehouse was introduced as a new website on which to host SketchUp PlugIns and extensions. SketchUp Make (formerly SketchUp for Home and Personal Use) was also introduced at this time which could be used free of charge for educational use and, of course, for home and personal use. The use of SketchUp Make began with a 30-day trial of SketchUp Pro after which time users could agree to the Terms of Service and continue to enjoy SketchUp Make for free.

SketchUp 2014 was released in February of 2014. It came with a vast number of fixes which offered increased stability over SketchUp 2013.

SketchUp 2015 (released November 2014) and SketchUp 2016 (released November 2015) were introduced in both 32-bit and in 64-bit versions. As with every new version of SketchUp hereafter, both came with a huge number of bug fixes & improvements. SketchUp 2015 introduced a new licensing system for the paid version. SketchUp 2016 was the final 32-bit version of SketchUp, and, most importantly to our community, is the final version of SketchUp in which RCT3 PlugIns work.

The final downloadable, desktop version of SketchUp Make was released in November of 2017. It came with a completely reworked graphics pipeline which ended support for software rendering. At the time of this writing the installer for Make 2017 is still offered for download at although it is anticipated by Trimble that users migrate to SketchUp Free which is web-based. SketchUp 2017 is the final version of SketchUp that is compatible with Windows 7. It is also the final free version of Sketchup that is compatible with PlugIn extensions.

In November 2017 SketchUp 2018 was introduced. SketchUp 2019 came along in February of 2019, followed by SketchUp 2020 in January of 2020. Each release came with additional functions, increased stability, and a multiplicity of fixes and improvements. In June 2020, Trimble announced that SketchUp was transitioning entirely to subscription-based products. SketchUp stopped selling perpetual licenses and Maintenance & Support plans in November of 2020.

As mentioned, the web-based version of SketchUp Free does not support extensions. This severely limits SketchUp's functionality as a free application.

Download links for desktop versions of SketchUp Make are still available about the internet but are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Because some versions of Make might soon become impossible to locate, so that they'll always be available to our community we've provided our own list of SketchUp downloads later on in this article.

Why Choose SketchUp

When one considers which 3D modeler to choose he'd want to carefully review the characteristics of each. We've summarized SketchUp's features below to show why it's a serious contender in its field:

Edges And Faces: SketchUp is Built On These Two Basics

Push/Pull: Easily Change 2D Faces Into 3D Shapes

Follow Me: Extrude Edges And Create Lathed Forms

Array/Repeat: Ordered Duplication Of Edges, Faces, Groups, Or Components

Groups And Components: Build Smarter Models And Work Efficiently

3D Text: Convert Fonts Into Modeled Text

Offset: Drag 'n' Duplicate Face Edges At Scale

Axes: Temporarily Change Group And Component Axes

Scale: Quickly Increase/Decrease All Model Dimensions

Tape Measure And Protractor: Precisely Measure Distance And Angles, Set Exact Guides/Work With Accuracy

Hide/View Hidden Geometry: Select And Hide Groups/Components/Faces/Edges, Reveal Or Hide Softened Edges

Layers And Outliner: Stay Organized, Label, Edit/Re-Order/Hide/Reveal With Ease

Sections: Slice/See Inside Models

Draw Text Labels: Create RCT3 Effect Points, Bones, & Set Points, And Add Notations To Models

Shadows, Fog, And Lighting: Perform Shade Studies With Sun Settings, Add Fog To Views, Select Seasonal Realism

Look Around And Walk: Virtually Explore Models Firsthand

Model View: Parallel Projection/Single Point Perspective/Two Point Perspective

Model Display Styles: Includes Wireframe, Monochrome, and Textured

Scenes: Save Model Viewpoints And Create CAD Animations

Materials: Apply Colors/Textures

Import Images: Paint Faces With Artwork/Photos

Import 3Ds, OBJ, And Collada Files: Get A Head Start On Modeling

Export Screenshots: In TIFF, JPEG, And PNG Formats

Sandbox Tools: Give CAD Terrain Custom Contours

Styles: Personalize Your Workspace

Google Earth: See Models In Worldwide Context

3D Warehouse: Download Models Of Almost Anything

The SketchUp Instructor: Animated GIF's Put You In The Know

SketchUp PlugIns

Yukihiro Matsumoto created Ruby by blending parts of his favorite languages, Ada, Eiffel, Lisp, Perl, and SmallTalk. Ruby was publicly released in 1995. Fans of Ruby programming language call it beautiful and artful yet, they also say it’s handy and practical. Ruby has been a permanent fixture alongside SketchUp since SketchUp 4.

In creating Ruby with such a sense of careful balance Matsumoto has often said that his goal was "to make Ruby natural", in a way that mirrored life. "Ruby is simple in appearance, but is very complex inside, just like our human body."

Ruby is ranked among the top ten on most of the worldwide indices that measure the growth and popularity of programming languages. Much of that growth is attributed to the popularity of software written in Ruby, particularly the Ruby on Rails web framework. Ruby is not only free of charge, but also free to use, copy, modify, and distribute.

It is extremely difficult to do our best with SketchUp without the use of PlugIns made from Ruby scripts. These mini-programs written in the Ruby language extend SketchUp with specialized functionality and are available from specialty SketchUp websites in addition to being downloadable from a number of third-party websites.

When we augment SketchUp with PlugIn extensions it’s like altering RCT3 with Options.txt or using Cheats & Unlockables to give SketchUp added potential and functionality. Ruby scripts created for SketchUp, better known as PlugIns or extensions, can help us clean up a model by removing stray lines, or by searching for vertices that should connect but don’t. PlugIns that distort models, orientate models, or specifically position models can save us a great deal of time with our modeling needs determining which script we need.

To use Ruby scripts that other people have created you don’t have to know anything about Ruby or programming. You just need to install the PlugIn, and you’re on your way!

There are an awesome variety of PlugIns available for SketchUp users. Many come singly, some come grouped, others as toolkit PlugIn assemblages. Most are free. Those that require payment can cost anywhere from around five pounds to over a hundred pounds and are almost always worth the money we spend on them.

For those who haven't done it before, installing PlugIns for the first time can be a daunting process. In older versions of SketchUp, Plugins are placed inside the PlugIns folder which is located inside SketchUp's Program Files folder. In newer SketchUp versions the name of the PlugIns folder has been changed to Tools.

Before installing them a small number of PlugIns require the additional download of a Ruby Library script. Many PlugIns will share the same Library. The download page of the PlugIn will indicate if a Library is required and will usually provide a link to the required Library file. You'd want to be sure you've placed the Library you need for your PlugIn inside your PlugIns or Tools folder before installing the PlugIn.

SketchUp plug-ins come in two forms:

Files with an RB extension, and

Files with an RBZ extension (since SketchUp 8).

Versions of SketchUp prior to SketchUp 2013 were installed here:

[ROOT DISK]:\Program Files\

Google\Google SketchUp

As of SketchUp 2013, 32-bit versions of SketchUp installed on 32-bit Windows are installed here:

[ROOT DISK]:\Program Files\

SketchUp\SketchUp [2013/2014/2015/2016]

SketchUp 32-bit installed on 64-bit systems is installed here:

[ROOT DISK]:\Program Files (x86)

SketchUp\SketchUp [2013/2014/2015/2016]

SketchUp 64-bit installed on 64-bit systems is installed here:

[ROOT DISK]:\Program Files\

SketchUp\SketchUp [2015/2016/2017]

To install your extensions, open your SketchUp Program Files folder and locate the PlugIns folder. This is the folder inside the SketchUp folder in which you'll place your RB or RBZ files.


Files with an RB extension simply need to be placed inside the PlugIns/Tools folder. If SketchUp is launched while you do this you'll need to shut down SketchUp and then re-launch it in order to access the plugin.


RBZ's require an additional step. These PlugIns need to be installed while SketchUp is launched. After you've placed your RBZ inside your PlugIns/Tools folder go to the menu bar and select Window.


Scroll down and select Preferences. The System Preferences pane will display.


Select Extensions.


At the bottom left of that pane you'll see a toggle called Install Extension ...


Mouse click on the Install Extension toggle and you'll be able to browse to your PlugIns/Tools folder, select the RBZ, and then open it with the Install Extension interface.


If you scanned your RBZ or have downloaded it from a reputable source you can ignore the message that the installation of the plugin will change system files. The plugin will need to be able to change certain system files in order for it to work. If you're uncomfortable about this make a System Restore point first, or install your plugin inside a sandbox application and then try it out there.

Observe after installing your RBZ’s that additional files, usually including more RB's, will appear inside your PlugIns/Tools folder. You will already know not to move any of these files, change any of the file names or delete any of these files.

Typically, after you've completed step 5 your PlugIn will then be available for use in SketchUp but there are some RBZ PlugIns that require that you shut down and then re-launch SketchUp in order to access them.

After SketchUp has been re-launched the new PlugIn will often display as a floating toolbar that's easy to spot. Some will include themselves within your existing toolbar container arrangements. Some PlugIns work entirely from the Tools drop-down menu, from the PlugIns drop-down menu (called the Extensions menu in newer versions of SketchUp), or from the context menus. If you're having trouble locating your new PlugIn you may on occasion need to go to View>Toolbars and ensure it's enabled there. As a final check go to Window>Preferences>Extensions and ensure that your new PlugIn is ticked in the list there.

And there we are! Our installation of SketchUp kicked up with Ruby PlugIns.

If you still can't find your newly installed PlugIn it's likely that your new PlugIn is not compatible with one of the others you have installed. You'll need to disable all your PlugIns, restart SketchUp, and find your new PlugIn in this way, after which you'd gradually re-enable all your other PlugIns until you find the one that's not compatible.

PlugIns are occasionally not backwards or forwards compatible so another reason you might not be able to find your PlugIn is that it's not compatible with your version of SketchUp. Recent PlugIns will tell you which versions of SketchUp they're compatible with. Confusingly, it is possible to install some of the not-so-new PlugIn versions into older versions of SketchUp without getting any error messages. Likewise older PlugIns sometimes won't work on newer versions of SketchUp so if all else fails in helping you to find your PlugIn you will need to consider this possibility and perhaps upgrade or downgrade your installation of SketchUp depending on which PlugIns you'd rather have.

SketchUp Missing Icon Replacement

On rare occasions our PlugIn will install successfully and work exactly as intended but the PlugIn's icons won't display properly in SketchUp's GUI. You'll find that the icons that come with the PlugIn will all be replaced by this one illustrated here at the left. This is the result of a PlugIn icon incompatibility bug.

The missing icons can simply be ignored although it is possible, by following the method mentioned a few paragraphs back, to determine which of the other PlugIns is the cause of this bug at which time you'll need to decide if the offending PlugIn can be deleted, or if you need to keep both PlugIns and simply live with the missing icons.

A Google search for SketchUp PlugIns will turn up several locations from where you may download them. These links to SketchUp PlugIns Store and SketchUp Extension Warehouse will get you started and on your way.

The links to versions of SketchUp Make that are most helpful to our community are listed below. SketchUp Make 2017 has been included for those who want to use recent PlugIns that are compatible with this version of SketchUp and are willing to do so without any RCT3 PlugIns.

On Windows 64-bit systems if SketchUp 32-bit is installed along with another installation of SketchUp that's 64-bit it will be possible to run two instances of SketchUp concurrently. You might perhaps want to set up your early version 32-bit SketchUp installation with your older PlugIn extensions and then arrange for your newer 64-bit SketchUp installation to run your newer extensions that may not work in the older SketchUp versions.

To download any of the SketchUp versions below simply mouse click on the corresponding image which displays the version of your choice.

SketchUp Downloads

Image 01, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2013 32-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1

Image 02, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2014 32-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1

Image 03, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2015 32-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1Image 04, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2015 64-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1

Image 05, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2016 32-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1Image 06, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2016 64-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1

Image 07, FAQ - SketchUp: Screenshot Of SketchUp Make 2017 64-Bit Installer Splash Screen, Page 1

SketchUp Thumbnails And Windows Explorer

32-bit versions of SketchUp installed on 32-bit machines occasionally experience minor issues with Windows Explorer: while using Windows Explorer to browse our models Explorer may crash while attempting to display preview thumbnails of our SketchUp models. This is a graphics card issue. The remedy is to open our SketchUp installation folder, find the file called ThumbsUp.dll, and rename it (e.g., ThumbsUpOLD.dll or ThumbsUpSTOP.dll) so that it's not recognized when SketchUp is launched. After we've done that Windows Explorer crashes due to this bug will become a thing of the past.

Of course, after this fix we’ll be unable to thumbnail preview our SketchUp models in Windows Explorer but they will preview when browsed through the Open file interface in SketchUp. Another option for previewing SketchUp models is to download a copy of SketchUp Viewer which gives full-sized previews of our models that can be navigated.

Here are a few links from where to download SketchUp Viewer:



   Free Download Manager Library

RCT3 PlugIns

Nearly all the RCT3 PlugIns available today were created by Belgabor. Because of a change in the way that Ruby scripts worked between SketchUp 2013 and SketchUp 2014 Belgabor created his Supplementary Script as a work-around.

Late in 2015 Kiotho managed to separate the individual components of some of the RCT3 PlugIns in use at the time and got them to work in SketchUp 2014. He shared with the community a copy of all his successfully made-over RCT3 PlugIns. His PlugIns download included SpaceMtnMan's edited RCT3 Toolbar and an Assistant script written by Belgabor.

In view of the above you'll find available below two different downloads containing RCT3 PlugIns. The Classic PlugIns Pack is for SketchUp 2013 and for retro SketchUp installations. Although shouted as being for SketchUp 2015, Kiotho's RCT3 Plugins are suitable for SketchUp 2014 onwards. Depending on the version of Sketchup that you choose to install, you'll find that one PlugIns pack or the other is more likely to work on the version of SketchUp Make that you've chosen to install.

   Classic RCT3 PlugIns Pack

   Kiotho's RCT3 PlugIns

Regardless which pack you choose the contents of both packs are all RB files with there being no RBZ's. Both packs each contain a folder that's named Tracks. The RB's and the Tracks folder from one pack or the other simply need to be placed inside your SketchUp PlugIns/Tools folder. After you've placed your RCT3 PlugIns a system restart is recommended.

How To Use SketchUp

If you've never modeled before you'll find SketchUp is really convenient to use. We've provided a mini-tutorial that will enable you to quickly grasp the basics of this fine 3D modeler.

Our tutorial video demonstrates how to go about getting the results while they're being achieved during each step. There are also clear written instructions given at every stage of this video presentation. Our mini-tutorial may be found at the link below.

  SketchUp 101

The imagery portrayed in the SketchUp Make Installer Splash Screen screenshots used above

was created by Trimble, Inc., the original images to which are the property of Trimble.

 Each of these images accompanied Trimble’s corresponding installation of Sketchup Make.