SketchUp Pro's major selling point is how simple it is to use, but it's still suitable for both professional and personal use. Large icons and customizable toolbars make it easy for CAD beginners without taking away the powerful tools professionals need. This software makes it easy to create designs of all kinds, and SketchUp Pro even offers VR model viewing to simulate walkthroughs. SketchUp Pro excels in designing and editing 2D and 3D concepts. However, though its overall feature package is quite impressive, we would like to see a lifetime subscription option. Right now you can only get an annual subscription, which can be frustrating if you'd like to pay for the software upfront. Still, it is deserving of its spot in our roundup of the best CAD software (opens in new tab).
SketchUp Pro: What you need to know
What makes SketchUp Pro unique is Trimble's 3D Warehouse, which is full of thousands of 3D models you can download. This gives you access to plenty of shared files and a growing number of designs.
SketchUp Pro has other built-in features, such as textures, lighting effects and animations, for when you present your designs. Plugins are also available for advanced photorealistic rendering in addition to the built-in rendering styles. However, while there are architectural tools to help you create your building plans; a wall tool and house wizard are two noticeable omissions.
The focus of SketchUp's features are mainly geared toward 3D designing, but SketchUp Pro still has the same tools as 2D CAD software. Useful features include color and text editing and a layer manager, and editing is easy due to the number of icons and toolbars you can add to the navigation. Style, measurement and layer toolbars make editing easier because you can quickly switch between functions and apply styles faster. Tool palettes are completely customizable, and you can add, remove or rearrange palettes.
Ideally, computer-aided design software should be as intuitive as drawing with pen and paper. SketchUp Pro is one of the easiest programs to navigate on our CAD software list. Instead of lists of features, large icons indicate tools which makes them fast and easy to find.
Features like the setup manager also make working with SketchUp Pro more convenient. SketchUp Pro does have a command line, but as with most CAD software, the command line is not the most user-friendly feature, as it requires you to know and use specific command functions, although it does have macro recordings.
SketchUp Pro is compatible with a decent range of file types including AutoCAD’s DWF and DXF files. You’ll also be able to use 3D printing STL files, PDFs and image files using this software. Additionally, SketchUp Pro has a mobile app, which allows you to organize and view your models from your phone. This can come in handy when interacting with customers, as you can easily show them your designs.
Even though this CAD software is one of the easiest programs to use, CAD software is complex by nature and having good support options is important. The manual, forum and tutorial videos available for this program all do a great job of covering topics and tools you'll need to design with SketchUp Pro. Additionally, technical support is free for the first year of your license, and you can reach support staff via email or online ticket. Phone numbers aren't listed on the Trimble website, but you can request a number for support through email.
Should you subscribe to SketchUp Pro?
SketchUp Pro is a great choice for anyone that is new to computer-aided design. The layout of SketchUp Pro is very intuitive and easy to use, even for the least knowledgeable CAD designers. The 3D Warehouse is a great resource that will provide a generous supply of models and symbols to choose from and work with. If you're a CAD beginner, this easy-to-use software is especially useful.