Understand the User Interface
SketchUp is great for modelling, to be truly proficient it is important you are aware of your surroundings. You will find many of the more involved functions are hidden from view.
Want to create your own custom style? Add a material library? Or export your model to a different format? Then you will need to get to grips with where things are. Explore the menus and become familiar with features and functions that aren't available in toolbars. There's a treasure trove of things SketchUp can do!
Use Shortcut Keys
Developing your muscle memory plays a key part in becoming proficient. Learning, and using, keyboard shortcuts for SketchUp saves you a ton of time and frees up valuable real estate in your workspace.
For every set of shortcuts you commit to memory means you can banish another toolbar from the User Interface. One of the first things I change is to set the O key to fire the Offset command and for X to Explode!
Save, save, save...
Software is fickle by nature. SketchUp is not immune to the odd crash. At times, CAD software may need to make intense calculations and crunch some serious numbers.
There is nothing worse than losing a couple of hours of design because of an unexpected crash. SketchUp CAN crash so make sure you have Auto-Save enabled.
Save often. Making sure SketchUp is set to make backup files and the the Auto-Save is set to at least 5 minute intervals.
A vanilla install of SketchUp is good. A turbo-charged version is way better! Using many of the hundreds of free and commercial extensions available extends SketchUp's capabilities. Anything from slicing a model for a CNC machine to making radial dimensions is all possible using extensions in SketchUp. With more created everyday it is an exciting time to be a SketchUp user!
Whether you use our own ExtensionStore or SketchUp's Extension Warehouse you will find a tool for any purpose. But always remember that extensions are not always needed. SketchUp is pretty powerful out of the box.
Keep SketchUp Updated
Running the latest and greatest release makes sure you have the best chance of reducing crashes accessing new tools and being at the cutting edge of CAD design.
Handily, SketchUp prompts you to update for each of its major releases. So it makes sense to be using the current version at all times.
Join a User Community
The beginning of any unknown journey is a daunting task. Luckily SketchUp has a plethora of awesome communities to share, find and discuss all things SketchUp.
Our very own forum, with nearly 8 years of discussion, is the defacto location for professional design advice . But if it's variety you are after then you can always head to these other fine establishments.
For official support from the people that live and breathe SketchUp you can't go wrong with SketchUp's own forums. For those looking for specialist woodworking techniques then FineWoodworking.com is a great place. Maybe you need something to ease you into SketchUp then Matt Donley's MasterSketchUp.com is the place to visit. Plus there's Daniel Tal's and Bonnie Roske's new 3Daily.net which is packed with introductory articles and intermediate techniques to get you up and running in no time!
Don't be afraid to get involved with online communities no matter what your SketchUp ability is. Everyone was a beginner at some point!