Add Location

The basics - what is add location, what does it do?

Welcome to Add Location!

Add Location is a map based service that helps you geolocate your models. It effectively applies latitude and longitude coordinates to your model so sketchUp and other applications can simulate where the model would be located. This is a requirement for performing accurate sun and shadow studies. It’s also useful for setting up your model for exporting to a format that can leverage geolocation.

What’s a shadow study?

A shadow study is just checking how the shadows fall across your model throughout the day and year. For more information on using the shadow features after geolocating your model check out the Casting real world shadows article.

What kind of location data does Add Location provide?

If you are using SketchUp Pro, Add Location will import both 2D and 3D site data into your model (except where terrain is unavailable). SketchUp Web only supports 2D sites with a basic map instead of imagery.

Add location will import the map type which was set for your import. This will be Imagery or a basic Map. Depending on your license, you may have options for imagery providers. It’s not possible to update your imagery or map after import. If you need a different type you will need to reimport (paid data will incur additional fees)

To learn more about managing site info check out the 2D sites vs 3D terrain section below


If you need some reminders on using add location use the help icon in the lower left of the screen to get a quick refresher on the key parts of the service.

Geolocation features overview

Adding a Location

The add location service will import your selected site and set your model’s location to a precise place on the earth. For more information see the Model Info section below

Map view

The map view is imagery or map you see in the bulk of the Add Location window. This part of the UI works very similar to mapping services like Google or Apple maps.


The search field allows you to search for locations. If the results are not what you need try formatting your search more like an official address with street number, city, state/province, zip code and country if needed.

Panning and zooming the map

Use the + & - buttons to zoom in and out. Click and drag in the main map view to pan the map left or right or up and down.

Zoom levels

Zooms levels correlate to the resolution of map imagery. The higher the zoom level, the higher the resolution the imagery is. Or to put it another way the higher the zoom level the more detail you can see. For more information on resolution see the imagery resolution section below

Map types

This button toggles between a basic map or imagery. Please note that the imagery displayed in the main map view is always from the provider DigitalGlobe. It is not possible to preview hi res imagery in the main map view at this time. For more info see the Previewing High Resolution imagery section below.

Map Tiles

What’s a map tile? A map tile is a 256 x 256 pixel image that makes up the map view. Map tiles are also the base unit of measurements for high resolution imagery.

Once imagery is imported into your model, the 256 x 256 pixel square images are merged together into larger images as sketchUp materials or .skm files. For more info see the Imagery Tiles to SketchUp Materials section below.

High Resolution coverage

The Hi Res coverage switch toggles an overlay that shows where high resolution imagery is available for purchase. Currently there is only one provider of hi res imagery, Nearmap. This imagery is available for parts of the US, Canada, Australia & New Zealand.

Imagery resolution

Imagery resolution per zoom level is as follows:

Zoom Level1 on-screen pixel:Provider Options
Z160.2m DigitalGlobe & Nearmap
Z17100cmDigitalGlobe & Nearmap
Z1850cmDigitalGlobe & Nearmap

You can see how zoom level affects map scale in the images below. Note that the map view will no longer zoom in after level 18. Use the Import Level slider to select imagery at zoom levels 19-21 (Paid Feature).

Please note that the only way to see Nearmap imagery is by purchasing and importing or using the preview tile feature with Nearmap selected as the imagery provider. See paid offerings section for more information.

Selecting a region

After you’ve selected the general area and zoom level you’d like to import, click Select Region to specify the exact region. Please note the crosshairs or “+” icon in the center of the window. This corresponds with the origin in your 3D model if this is your first time importing a site. Use the grips on the rectangular select widget to specify the exact region for your import. You can pan the map by dragging if you need to adjust things.

Click the Select Region button to begin.

Choose the imagery provider, for higher resolution imagery you'll need to choose "Nearmap".

Adjust the selection by moving the grab handles in the corners show.

With "Nearmap" selected you'll have the option for higher resolution tiles with a higher zoom level than 18.

Imagery Providers

If you have your map type set to imagery you may have an option between providers. DigitalGlobe is displayed in the main map view and is available up to Z18. Nearmap is a paid add on (in app purchase). For more information see paid features section below.

Please also note that it is not possible to view high resolution imagery in the main map view. The main map view always displays digital globe imagery. Use the Preview Tile button to see a sample of high resolution imagery before making a purchase.

Import Level

The Import level selector specifies the zoom level for your imported imagery. This feature is only available for customers purchasing Hi Res imagery or for SketchUp Pro & Studio subscribers who are importing Maps and DigitalGlobe Imagery.

Tile Boundaries

The Tile boundary switch turns on an overlay which represents the location of the 256 x 256 pixel tiles boundaries at the selected import level. As you adjust the import level you will notice more or less square tiles in the overlay. You can use this feature to get a better sense of how many map tiles you will be importing into your SketchUp file as well as optimize your hi res purchases.

Previewing High Resolution imagery

If you have selected a provider that offers high resolution imagery you will also see a “Preview Tile” button when selecting a region. This allows you to check imagery quality on one tile before you make a purchase. If necessary, you can always adjust the import levels to ensure you get the resolution you need.

Everyone receives 3 free previews to evaluate imagery before a purchase. Be careful though; if you use up all your previews you must purchase in order to receive more.


Once you have selected your provider and region, click the import or purchase button to move on to the import process. SketchUp will begin downloading and processing the data to be imported to your model.

Please note that this process can take several minutes or longer for large sites that contain many tiles.

Site Area Limits

The white square that appears at zooms 14-16 represents the maximum physical region that can be imported at this time. If you need to import a larger region, you will need to perform multiple imports/purchases.

Base offering: SketchUp Free and SketchUp Web users can import sites with 2D map data.

Sketchup Trial and Classic customers receive access to maps and basic DigitalGlobe capabilities. Basic DigitalGlobe means that imports are limited to the same zoom level as the main map window. Imports will include both 2D and 3D site data. Note that 3D terrain quality varies by location.

Large area imports: In addition to 2D and 3D sites, SketchUp Pro and Studio subscribers can take advantage of large area imports for DigitalGlobe. The large area import feature allows you to zoom out and then import a higher level to grab a larger area in one operation.

Purchasing High Resolution imagery: SketchUp Classic license holders, SketchUp Pro subscribers and SketchUp Studio subscribers have the option to purchase Nearmap high resolution imagery. High resolution imagery can be purchased inside the Add Location service The minimum purchase is 200 tiles.

For more information on different Add Location offerings check out the Add Location product page.

Model Info -> Geolocation

To see the geolocation info about your model go to the Window Menu -> Model Info -> Geolocation. This is where all the geographic info about your model is displayed. The info includes lat/long coordinates which SketchUp will use for other features like shadow settings. It will also display Country and Location information if available.

Use the Add location... or Add More Imagery button to open the add location service.

The Clear Location button will remove all location and site data including imagery and terrain, from your model.

Use the Set Manual Location button if you want to add lat/long data by typing it in directly.

Add location data Inside SketchUp models

Imagery Tiles to SketchUp Materials

After importing from Add Location, SketchUp will merge the 256 x 256 pixel map tiles into larger sized images to create sketchup materials or .skm files. These are very similar to the materials applied by the Paint Bucket tool. In order to display the Add Location imagery at full resolution, it’s often necessary to break a site up into images that can be handled by your graphics hardware. The maximum size image for SketchUp materials depends on your graphics card and ranges from about 1024 pixels square up to 3072 pixels square. If you need to edit the imagery file inside the skm files keep in mind that you might have to edit multiple images. For more information on editing SketchUp material files click here.

Importing lots of data

Importing lots of tiles can quickly add several dozen all the way up to several hundreds of Mb worth of imagery data to your model. In order to keep SketchUp performing well think about what resolutions you might need. For example you might want to import a small region at very high resolution and use lower resolution data for the outer regions of your site.

As you add imagery and information to your model, the performance will suffer. Be sure to read more about Improving Performance in SketchUp to keep your model running as smooth as possible.

2D sites vs 3D terrain

SketchUp Web only supports 2D sites with a basic map applied.

SketchUp Pro supports map or imagery and will supply both a flat 2D site and a 3D mesh. You can use the Toggle Terrain feature to switch between the two. This feature can be accessed from the File menu -> Geolocation -> Show Terrain or you can add the Toggle Terrain button to a custom tool bar.

Auto save after paid imports

After an import of Hi Res imagery, the SketchUp application will attempt to auto-save your file. It's a good idea to get in the habit of saving your files often so you don’t lose any data in the event of a crash. It’s recommended that you save your file before importing or purchasing and then again after your import completes. It’s also a good idea to back up any data that you purchase. SketchUp and Trimble are not responsible for replacing purchased data after the data has been successfully delivered by the add location service.

Purchase problems

If you have a problem with your high resolution purchase please retry importing. You can do this by making sure you have the correct model open and then restart the Add Location service by closing the Add Location window and reopening it. You should see a message asking you if you want to import again.

If the problem persists, please use our Contact Technical Support Form, detailing your issue and someone from our support team will contact you.