Originally released as free open-source software, the popular 3D-modeling program SketchUp now comes with a premium price tag. Or does it? You can still download a free desktop version if you know where to look.
SketchUp has changed hands a few times over the years, once having been owned by Google, and currently owned by a company called Trimble. At the time of this writing, the only modern free version of SketchUp is a web app. If you want the latest full desktop app, you’re looking at $300 a year for personal use.
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The SketchUp web app is decent and might be good enough for many people, but for a long time, the desktop version was completely free, too. When Trimble acquired SketchUp, it forked the product into several tiers, keeping the free desktop version around as “SketchUp Make.”
The last version of SketchUp Make was released in 2017. The good news is that Trimble still offers this version in an official capacity, although it’s no longer receiving updates. If you want a free desktop version of SketchUp, it’s still a great option. Here’s where to find it.
First, head over to sketchup.com/download/all in a web browser such as Google Chrome on your Windows or Mac computer.
Next, you will need to sign in to a Trimble account or create one for free. This step is required in order to get the download links. You can easily sign in with a Google or Apple account if you’d like.
Once you’re signed in, you’ll be brought to the Downloads page. It’s organized by language, and each version has a Windows 64 Bit and Mac OSX download. Find “SketchUp Make 2017” and click “Download” for your platform.
The file will download in your browser, and when it’s finished, you can install it like any other application.
That’s it! SketchUp Make isn’t as full-featured as the newer “Pro” versions, but for the vast majority of people, it’s perfect. If you used SketchUp in the past, this is most likely the version you’ll be familiar with.
Note: When you download this program, it will start as a time-limited 30-day trial of SketchUp Make 2017 Pro. After the trial expires, it will automatically convert itself into a free version of SketchUp Make 2017.
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