Other Annoyances 
 A list of common – or otherwise interesting – problems, issues and whatnot:

Is all or part of the model disappearing?

Clipping Plane


The official term to the disappearing geometry seen in the animation is a "Camera Clipping Plane."  There are really 6 such in most 3d renderings, top/bottom,left/right,from/back. Those are used to limit the amount of geometry the program has to render.  If your model is not very large, the clipping plane can usually be made to disappear by switching to Perspective camera and using the Zoom Extents command. Clipping appears more easily  in Parallel Projection where it is possible to actually move the camera picture plane so that it intersects the model without noticing it.
  • SketchUp Sage Jean Lemire describes several ways to find a 'lost' model from a clipping problem.
    • Try turning perspective on if you are set to "Parallel projection".
    • If you still have problem, it may be possible that your model is too far from the axes origin. If this is the case, try moving the model near the origin.
    • If it still do not solve the problem, it may be possible that you have a stray geometry very far from the model and that it may cause problems with OpenGL. Try this procedure to get rid of any stray geometry:
      1. Orbit, Zoom and Pan to make all of your model visible.
      2. Select all (CTRL-A).  this will select all the model plus any geometries that may be residing anywhere.  Make sure that you make all visible and turn every layers on to be able to really select all.
      3. Pres and hold the SHIFT key to Add/Subtract from the selection.
      4. While still pressing the SHIFT key, do a window select and select all of your model. This will deselect the model and keep selected anything else.
      5. Press the DELETE key.  This will keep only the model that you selected.
Clipping, while a nuisance when it gets out of whack like you're seeing, is actually of critical importance to speedy rendering in SketchUp. What's really happening is that SketchUp is trying to decide what parts of the model are 'behind the camera' and therefore need not be rendered at all. Sometimes the clipping plane that defines what's behind gets out of synchronization with the actual location of the camera. Here's our best description of what's happening and how to minimize it.
Most of the time, the clipping plane is behind the camera— which is why you usually don't see it. Sometimes, with very large models (spatially large, that is), it can occasionally slip in front of the camera. This is really an OpenGL issue more than a SketchUp issue- the doc I referenced will give you some good workarounds for common problem cases. If you're interested in what is actually happening in OpenGL, this doc might be a good place to start. You're looking for references to "near clipping plane."

John Bacus, SketchUp Product Manager
Workarounds for Large Models
  • If you work with large models that generate clipping planes, make those small part components.  A component can be saved to its own file, outside of the large model with all the clipping issues.  Modify then save the component in its own SketchUp session (do not alter the axis location).  Update the small component in the large model.  Select the model, r-click and choose Replace model.  Or use the Component browser.
  • EditInPlace  SketchUp plugin which automates the process outlined above by opening another SketchUp session to work on small details of larger models.  Fee - Windows, Mac

Missing Faces

  • Incomplete results from the Drape Tool  Ross Macintosh  xxx [dead link]
  • A Follow Me or intersection procedure failed to make some faces and/or edges
    • This is often an issue with model scale.  SketchUp does not work well at a very small or large scale.
    • The solution to making small scale models is to temporarily scale up the geometry, something like 10x, 100x.  Perform the operations to finish making the model then scale the model back down.

Flickering Faces

The face flickering is called z-fighting.  It happens when two faces occupy the same plane. It is one of the wonderful phenomena that can happen with OpenGL rendering.
The way to fix it is to not have two faces on the same plane
  • The animation shows a grouped face on a surface being raised a little above the surface to avoid the conflict.
  • Delete the offending face.
  • Hide the offending face.
  • If you want the grouped geometry to remain attached to the affected surface, consider hiding the naughty face.


Are lines showing through faces from a distance?

This is another OpenGL issue.  As you zoom out, the distance separating the edges and faces become relatively close together as compared with the greater, zoomed out distance back to the model. 
The only way to remedy this issue is to separate the affected edges until they do not show through the face or hide the edges.  


Can SketchUp models be used commercially?



Cursor trails?

Do you have little shapes following your cursor?   

This is a graphics card deficiency with the graphics driver instructions on handling fast feedback.
A modeling session may be going along fine when there's not much complexity to the model.  But as the work progresses - and the model becomes larger -  SketchUp wants to use a function called fast feedback to speed up the screen refresh rate.  Fast feedback functions comes from your graphics card driver.  If the graphics driver does not provide adequate fast feedback support, the cursor trails may start appearing on some computer systems.  

The most common fix is to disable Fast Feedback.  Go to Window (SketchUp in Mac) > Preferences > OpenGL and uncheck Use fast feedback. 
Updating the graphics driver may also help fix the problem as driver developers update the driver code - or it might make it worse.  The latter half of How do I fix display issues? discusses NVIDIA's stance on implementing fast feedback in their latest drivers.  xxxx [dead link]


Missing file thumbnail image?

(TRICK) To re-enable skp file preview  Method to retrieve file thumbnails on a Windows machine.
JPEG files show thumbnails because Windows Explorer 64-bit knows how to generate thumbnails for them. But it does not know what SKP files are. Because of this, it needs to query the SketchUp thumbnailer to return a thumbnail. Explorer 64-bit is so designed that it only queries thumbnailers that are themselves 64-bit.  SketchUp does not have a 64-bit thumbnail generator.

For now, all users are happy to use a program like MysticThumbs to enable thumbnails on 64 bit systems. Also the free viewer XnView shows SKP thumbnails.  And with all the extra bells-and-whistles that program throws in for file previews (like adjusting preview size), formerly grumby 64-bit system users may be very happy.

White box around a cursor?

  • Help Center
  • the white background of the cursor is caused by the monitor color resolution.
  • f this turns out to be a graphics driver issue, another thing to try is turning off fast feedback in Window > Preferences > OpenGL (Windows).
  • For Mac-users, this is an OpenGL support issue with your graphics driver. Make sure you have all the updates for your operating system.  Graphic driver update are bundled with OS updates.


Getting an oval when drawing a circle?

getting ovals when I draw circles   Troubleshooting how geometry may appear distorted by camera setting and/or monitor resolution.


Is a file opening the wrong program?

This problem is about having the wrong program associated with a file extension - the format abbreviation at the end of a file, like xxx.kmz or xxx.pdf.  This is something you might have changed yourself inadvertently or your computer wanted to do something to make you mad.
  • XP > any Windows Explorer window > Tools > Folder Options > File Types and change affected extension through the Advanced menu.
  • google earth export opens Photoshop CS4  An extreme example of file disassociation on a Mac.   The links in that thread go to a site with pretty pictures showing how to access the right menus to correct file associations for both Windows and Mac.



Missing Faces from some procedure?


How do I retrieve a dialog box that has disappeared?  (Windows only)


Quickest Answer:

Upgrade to SketchUp 7.1.  A new feature to reset the workspace dialog boxes was added.  Go to Window > Preferences > Workspace and click on Reset Workspace.  Switching from a dual monitor set-up to a single monitor is one of the main causes for this problem.

Quick Answer:

  1. Click Window > Hide Dialogs.
  2. Click Window again, and choose the option with the missing dialog box. For example, Materials.
  3. On your keyboard, press Alt+Spacebar. Let go, then press the letter M.
  4. Tap one of the arrow keys once.
  5. Then, without clicking any mouse buttons, move the mouse from side-to-side and up and down, and see if the missing dialog does not appear on screen. If it does, position it where you want it, and click the left button.


The way I get them back is by following this procedure.  Do it for each missing browser, one at a time.

First, you want to give the browser focus, so you should select that browser from the Window menu, even if it already has a plus next to it (if it does, click it twice so it ends up with a plus and is the last thing selected.  It should then have focus, even though you can't see it.

Then, you want to open its system menu using the keystroke Alt-Spacebar, then put it in Move mode by hitting M.  At that point you should be able to scoot it around with the arrow keys.  What you can do is to hit any arrow key once and then move your mouse back and forth, up and down, without pressing any mouse buttons.  If all goes well, you should see the missing browser moving around with the mouse.  Once the thing is back on-screen, click the left mouse button or hit Enter, and you should have it back.

Then proceed to the next missing window, and so on.

[ Gully Foyle ]



Small icons?

Check out Aerilius' explanation of this problem with hi-resolution display screens in SketchUp up to version 2014.


Why is my mouse wheel not orbiting the camera?

Three Button Mouse Problems
Go to your mouse driver application and change the function of your scroll wheel button to "middle button."  You may have to look for that function on a list of "Other Functions."
[ Gully Foyle ]

DEM import problems?

errors importing DEM with DEM import tips by TaffGoch.


Got Gray Bars?

If you have gray bars across your work space, that means something messed up the aspect ratio.  Usually that is caused by a plugin.  Film & Stage is the main culprit, but cubicPanOut and the renderer Twilight can cause the problem too.  A free plugin, FixAspectRatio by RickW should correct the problem.  

The new version of the Film & Stage plugin, the Advanced Camera Tools, also creates aspect ratio bars.  But it also has a button on its toolbar to remove those offending bars too.

Or try the suggestion by Jim and enter Sketchup.active_model.active_view.camera.aspect_ratio=0.0 in the Ruby console.


Error message "access to 0.skp was denied"?

A Discussion Group thread on Error Messsages that addressed at least one possible cause to this file permissions problem.


Where's the Measurement box?

The window Maximize button has two settings - floating and maximum screen size.  The VCB can 'disappear' if the SketchUp window isn't fully maximized to best fit the screen space.  Fix the problem by clicking the Maximize window button.  Then to prevent the problem in the future, adjust the size of the floating window so the margins are always visible.


Missing texture after exporting to VRML

missing texture after exporting  Anssi has some tips for VRML export.


Teaching SketchUp

Information about Authorized Training Centers (ATC) and teaching SketchUp.


 Cannot open a SKP file?

Sometimes it's possible to open a corrupted file:

  • Try opening the file on another computer.
  • Try opening with the most recent version of SketchUp if the model was made in an older version.
  • Try opening on a different operating system.
If you can open the file, hunt around for the source of corruption and remove it or save a copy of the good geometry in a new file.  Some people have transfered good stuff using copy/paste. Look for:
  • A bad image - Sometimes the original, imported image file was corrupt.
  • Bad geometry
From SketchUp Guide Jody: 
Alas if both files saying "Unexpected File Format" isn't a good thing. This is the error associated with a corrupted file, but could also just mean incomplete. If you do any file sharing I recommend always creating a ZIP first so the file can't be truncated incorrectly and become corrupt. I also recommend you do all saves locally to prevent hiccups that might occur when writing across a network or to an external media (such as CD/DVD/USB Thumb Drive.) In the case of this corrupt file, if both your SKP and SKB files are corrupt then there isn't really anything you can do to recover that data, just look at other backups.
As stated above, you want to be sure to always observe SKP vs SKB. I recommend NEVER opening an SKB unless your SKP is corrupt, remove the file association if you can. That's not a file to edit, its a file to store in a backup folder. I also recommend you work on a versioning solution that's meaningful to you, every Monday copy your current SKB to a folder and give it a date, or if you're very judicious about file management you could do it daily. In any case, if you expect to reach hundreds of hours be sure you're getting a backup at least every 20 invested.
I'm sorry you've ended up in this state, its not a fun place to have to recover from. The SKB was designed to help offset some of this headache when it occurs and we've also gotten much better about preventing corruption within SketchUp but that doesn't make it any more comfortable when it does happen.
Hopefully there is some wisdom here that is useful even though there isn't a fix for this file.


Computer 'beeps' when using SketchUp?

Offending Plugin

If a warning 'beep' happens when accessing things in SketchUp, the prime suspect may be a naughty line of code in a plugin.  An early version of the plugin called Housebuilder had this little problem.  A developer may add the code to sound an alert while testing the code function then forget to disable the beep before releasing their work.
If anyone is in the mood to try to hunt down an offending plugin, search for the phrase UI.Beep in the SketchUp Plugins directory.  Open the plugin in a plain text editor, like Notepad (Windows).   Place ### before the offending code to stop the sound and save the file (one "#" is good enough, but 3 #s are easier to spot if you want to go back and find your edit.)

Computer Hardware Layout

From forum member kmcantor:
"I finally figured out what was causing the beep and moving the cursor.  I have an Acer Aspire 6920 laptop that has an integrated fingerprint scanner, which is apparently always active.  If I accidentally move my thumb over it while using keyboard commands, it automatically moves the cursor to the upper left corner, generating an error beep since it does not recognize the side of my thumb.  To eliminate the problem, I put a piece of tape over the scanner when I'm using SketchUp."

Disable Beep at the System Level

Sometimes a system 'beep' may occur for other mysterious reasons.  It is possible to disable SketchUp sounds at the system level.  SketchUpper Edward Bennett was able to stop the beeping whenever  he accessed the Layers by muting sound through the sound control panel:
VistaStart->Control Panel->Hardware & Sound-> Adjust System Volume:
 image by Edward Bennett
XP -  Start > Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices Properties > Sounds > Program events