Selecting shapes in SketchUp

selecting shapes Sketchup tutorzine.com

Welcome to another part of SketchUp tutorial. In this part, we’re going to learn how to select shapes. It might sound simple but you might find selecting things in SketchUp a bit tricky. If you don’t know the intricate ways to deal with different kinds of geometries, selecting can be confusing.

Selecting geometries will not be confined to this lesson only because the way we select shapes is different from selecting solid objects, so you will continue learning additional tips for working with Selection tool.

Main Geometries in SketchUp

The first thing you need to know is that there are three kinds of geometry in SketchUp:

  • Shapes (consist of lines and faces)
  • Groups (a group of multiple shapes)
  • Components

This article focuses on Shapes which are the simplest form of geometry in SketchUp. If you have been following the previous parts of our tutorial, you must know by now that a shape is nothing but a face, sounded by straight or curved lines.

In previous lesson, we drew a simple rectangle by using the Pencil tool but there’s another tool in SketchUp’s toolbar that is especially designed for drawing rectangles. To draw a rectangle, follow the steps below:

  • Click rectangle tool on the toolbar
  • Click somewhere between the red and green axes (this puts the first corner of the rectangle)
  • Now drag you mouse along the X (Red) axis to the right and click again (this puts the last corner of the rectangle)
draw rectangle sketchup tutorzine.com

Now you must have a rectangle on screen. You can view it from different angles by orbiting <> around it. Use your middle mouse button (or mousewheel) to orbit around geometries.

While you are dragging your mouse to put the last corner of the rectangle, if you press and release Ctrl button on your keyboard, SketchUp will draw the rectangle from it’s center point. To get back to normal mode, simply push and release Ctrl button again.

Tip 50

In the middle of drawing the rectangle, if you see a diagonal dotted line appear in the middle of rectangle, it means that SketchUp will create a perfect box (with equal dimention for all sides) if you end drawing your rectangle there.

Selecting a shape

Now, what if you want to move this rectangle somewhere else or make it bigger? To do that, you first need to “select” it. As you know, selecting a face is simple. Just click on it once and it turns blue which means it is selected now; click on it one more time to deselect it.

The number of mouse click plays important role in selecting shapes. If you double-click a face, all of the surrounding edges, including the face inside will be selected. But if you double-click one of the edges on your rectangle, SketchUp will only select that edge and the face inside. The other three edges will not be selected.

Now if you want to select the whole rectangle by clicking the edges, you must do a “triple-click” either on any of the edges or on the face. This will select both the surrounding edges and also the face inside. We will see later that triple-click has another useful functionality.


Selection box

Imagine you have a couple of shapes on the screen and you only want to select two of them. Certainly you can do that by holding your Shift key down and clicking on the shapes and edges one by one until you select all the edges and faces but that’s going to take a long time.

SketchUp offers another useful functionality for selecting multiple geometries and that is using Selection box. To do that, you need to:

  1. Click on an empty space in your drawing
  2. Drag your mouse until the black selection box appears
  3. Try to drag this box until it encompasses the shapes you want to select
  4. Now release your mouse button
solid selection box sketchup tutorzine.com

Whatever falls inside the selection box will be selected on the screen. There’s two types of selection boxes. One is solid black that appears when you drag your mouse from left to right and the other is (dashed black), which appears when you drag your mouse from right to left.

These two methods are different in the matter of how and what they can select. The Solid selection box will select anything that falls completely inside the selection box.

So if you drag your mouse around a shape from left to right and a tiny part of a face remains outside of the box when you release your mouse, that face will NOT be selected because it was not completely inside the selection box.


The dashed black selection box on the other hand, selects anything that the dashed line touches or crosses over. This is useful when you’re working with multiple geometries and some of them are behind other geometry and you don’t want to orbit around all of them to select them individually.

By dragging a selection box from right to left, anything that gets touched or crossed by the dashed selection line will be selected. As you can see in the picture above, only the left edge of the rectangle is not selected because the dashed selection box didn’t touch or cross it.

What to do with a selected object

After you’ve selected something, you can manipulate its size, position and rotation. You can also turn a selected shape into a group or into a component.

We’ll get into group and components later on but in the next lesson, we will focus on different tools for manipulating (moving, scaling and rotating) geometries in SketchUp.

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