Custom Toolbar Button Images in LayOut

Matt Donley Layout Tutorials Leave a Comment

I’ve always thought that the default toolbar in LayOut should include a button for inserting a SketchUp model into your LayOut file. It’s such a common thing to do, it feels weird to have to go to File > Insert every single time. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to create your own custom buttons for any LayOut command, as well as how to create a custom button image for them using the super-secret-hidden-built-in button image editorUnfortunately, this is a Windows-only trick. Mac has a much more limited toolbar customization.

Watch the video below, or continue further for the written tutorial. 

Adding Custom LayOut commands

It’s pretty simple to add new buttons to your LayOut toolbars. If you’re not familiar, here’s how it’s done:

  1. Right-click in the toolbar area, select Customize.
  2. Select the Commands tab in the Customize window.
  3. Find the command you want to add to your toolbar, and drag it directly into your toolbar.

The problem is that not all commands have icon images associated to them, so you get an ugly text button for a lot of these commands. 

Using the LayOut Button Image Editor

One thing that a lot of people don’t realize, is that when you have the customize window active, all of the toolbar buttons become editable. You can drag them to different positions, you can pull them out of the toolbar to remove them, and you can also right-click on them to get a context-menu.

That context menu gives you the magical ability to change how the button looks. If you’d like to download the image I used in this example, download it below.


Download the image InsertSketchUp.png so you can follow along with this tutorial. (Free download)

In order to add an image to the button, follow these steps:

  • Make sure the Customize window is active. Right-click in the toolbar area > Customize.
  • With the Customize window active, Right-click on a button that you’d like to add an image to, and make sure Default Style is selected. (Default Style will show an image, and no text label.) At first, the button will show an error image, because we haven’t assigned an image yet. 
  • Right-Click the button again, select Edit Button Image.
    In the Image Editor, you can use the drawing tools to create your own icon, or better yet, import an icon that you’ve created in an external image editor, like Photoshop. To import, click File > Open. Once you’ve selected the image you want to use, just close the Image Editor (there’s no save button.) Once you’ve closed it, it will prompt you to ask if you want to save the image to the button. 

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go through the image editor window, you can have the image copied on your clipboard, and you can select Paste Button Image directly from the button context menu.

And there you go, you’ve got your nice new button icon in your toolbar. Don’t forget to close the Customize window, because if you’re like me, you might be wondering why there’s a black outline around your button… It’s because the toolbar is still in edit mode. Close the customize window and you’ll be all set. 

TIP: You’ll want to use GIF or PNG and use transparency in order for the button to blend in naturally with the native tool buttons. You want the background of the toolbar to show, and when you hover over the button, you’ll notice a slight drop shadow appears. 

Thanks to Kim Frederik Blom Semelin for sharing this tip with me!

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