After months of hard work from our teams, we’re excited to bring real-time collaboration to Sketch in beta. Read on to find out how to get set up, and start collaborating with others in the same Sketch document.
Any Cloud documents that you open in the latest version of the Mac app will become incompatible with older versions. For now, you’ll also need a Teams subscription to try out real-time collaboration in the beta period.
Welcome to real-time collaboration
Before we dive into the practical steps and get set up for real-time collaboration, here’s a quick overview of what to expect. Firstly, we believe a truly native Mac app is the best place to design, so that’s where real-time collaboration will take place. That means you’ll still get all the benefits of designing on your Mac — from a slick, native UI to custom keyboard shortcuts — with the ability to work together with others in real-time.
For now, real-time collaboration will only be available as part of a Teams subscription. This is different to a license key, so you’ll need to make sure you have one before you get started. To check, open the Mac app and choose Sketch > Preferences, then select the Account tab. If you’re part of a Teams subscription, it’ll be listed here. You can click Account Settings… for more information.
If you have a Teams subscription, real-time collaboration is available at no extra cost. Plus, you can invite anyone with a valid Sketch Account and a compatible version of the Mac app to collaborate with you — whether they’re part of your Team or not. More on that below.
We’re almost ready to open up real-time collaboration beyond Teams subscriptions — so solo users and freelancers can start a real-time collaboration session as well. We’ll have more to share on that soon.
Get the design party started
First things first — if you haven’t already, download the latest version of the Mac app. You can do that from sketch.com/updates, or open your existing version and choose Sketch > Check for Updates….
Now, let’s get your document ready for collaboration. Once you’ve done this, the document will no longer be compatible with earlier versions of Sketch, so keep that in mind when working with others, as they’ll need to update too — especially if you want to work together in real time. Don’t worry though — if you have a Teams subscription, everyone in your team will be able to access and use the latest version of the Mac app.
It’s also important to note that you must save your documents to a shared Team workspace before you can collaborate in real-time. Once it’s there, you’ll need to open it in the Mac app and simply hit File > Save or ⌘ + S to update the file to work with real-time collaboration.
If you want to create a new document and start collaborating in it immediately, you’ll first need to save it to your shared Team workspace. Every other contributor on your Team will then have access to the document automatically, so you can start collaborating right away.
To make things easy, you can also quickly copy a link to your document from the Mac app to help others find and open it once they have access. Click the … in the Collaborate toolbar item and choose Copy Link. Share it with members of your Team or anyone you’ve invited to Edit the document and they can instantly jump in and start collaborating!
Note: If you want to make sure everyone can edit all the text in your document, you might want to embed any fonts you use when you share your files.
With real-time collaboration, you’ll always know who’s editing a document at the same time as you. You’ll see up to three avatars for other contributors in the Collaborate toolbar item, and clicking the … shows a complete list of active and idle contributors.
On the Canvas, you’ll see a different colored cursor for each Contributor, as well as their name. You’ll also see any layers they select and edit once they complete their action.
For example, as you resize a layer, your fellow collaborators won’t see that action happen pixel-by-pixel as you drag. Instead, once you stop and complete that action, everyone will see the new layer size. Reducing on-screen movement makes real-time collaboration less distracting, so you can stay focussed on your work.
Follow mode and Preferences
If you want to jump straight to a specific user’s cursor to see what they’re working on, you can click their avatar in the toolbar or the Collaborate menu to activate Follow mode. Find out more about Follow mode in our documentation.
Want to keep a lower profile? We’ve added an option to make your cursor non-followable in the Preferences window. There, you’ll also be able to toggle other people’s names and cursors on and off, to reduce movement on the Canvas even more.
Because the Mac app automatically syncs changes between collaborators as you make them, you don’t need to save every few minutes. Anyone else who opens the document while you’re working will get all the latest updates automatically. Plus, you’ll always know you’re seeing the most up-to-date version of a document when you open it.
Creating a new version
In fact, you only need to hit File > Save or ⌘ + S when you want to create a new version — effectively a snapshot of your document at that specific moment in time, with everyone’s edits included. Anyone in your team can browse through these versions in the web app, add comments, or inspect them for handoff.
Don’t worry if you quit without saving your work, either. The app will automatically create a new version of a document in Cloud whenever you close a document or quit the app. Find out more in our documentation.
And because every version you save is in your Cloud workspace, it’s easy to revisit a previous iteration and download it, if you need to. Find out more in our documentation.
Contributors and Viewers
Remember, while only Contributors on your Team will be able to open and collaborate on documents in the Mac app, you can still invite Viewers to take a look and add their feedback in the browser. Viewers are free, and you can add as many to your Team as you like. They can log into Cloud, view any documents you share with them, and make comments on those documents right in their browser — even if they don’t own a Mac. Find out more about Cloud in our documentation.
As well as viewing and commenting on designs in the browser, developers can sign in and inspect documents, copy attributes and even download individual production-ready assets. All for free. Find out more about these features in our documentation.
We’re so happy to share real-time collaboration with you at last. It’s the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people, and we can’t wait to hear what you think.
This is just the start for real-time collaboration in Sketch. We’re excited to launch real-time collaboration to more people — beyond Teams — in the coming weeks. For now, enjoy!