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Getting to know the Sketch toolbar

Learn how to customize your toolbar to work better and faster in Sketch

Every designer is different, so it’s only natural that they’ll need their own set of tools to create their best work. Your Sketch starter toolbar is packed with powerful, commonly-used tools — but did you know there are a lot more to choose from?

In today’s post, we’ll teach you how to customize your toolbar to streamline your workflow.

Let’s get tweaking!

How to customize your toolbar

Tailoring your experience is as simple as control-clicking on the top nav bar and selecting Customize Toolbar…. You’ll see a list of tools to choose from, which you can simply drag and drop into your existing toolbar.

Want to go back to the original toolbar? Drag the default set into the top bar.

By default, the names of each tool will appear under their icon. If you’re already familiar with them and want to declutter, you can select Icon Only from the Show dropdown menu.

Next, we’ll walk you through what the default tools do so you know which to keep or discard.

What you’ll find in your toolbar

Here’s a quick overview of some of the tools you’ll find by default. If you prefer to watch it in video form, check out our very own Layshi Curbelo’s toolbar tutorial below.

  • Insert Insert: Add images, Artboards, Shapes, Vectors, and more into the Canvas.
  • Create Symbol Create Symbol: Create a reusable Symbol by joining a group of layers. This is great for projects with repeating elements.
  • Arrange tools: Forward Forward, Backward Backward, Group Group and Ungroup Group help you organize your layers and move them within the layer list.
  • Tools Tools: Quickly access a list of tools ranging from edit to outline. Good for keeping your toolbar decluttered.
  • Boolean Operations: Union boolean union, Subtract boolean substract, Intersect boolean intersect, and Difference Difference (blend mode) can help you combine shapes.
  • Preview Preview: Open your prototype in a preview window. Good for testing interactive designs.
  • Collaborate Collaboration: Upload the document to a Workspace and collaborate on designs with teammates.

Your toolbar, your way

The toolbar comes with default settings, but depending on your design needs, you may want different options at hand. As you get to know your work process, you can customize your toolbar to reflect the tools you’re using the most. Here are some examples based on what type of designer you are:

The Illustrator

Also known as the icon master. They tend to be lone wolves and have a clear goal in mind. It’s all about using a few tools to create stunning illustrations, which might look hand-drawn but are actually not.

We recommend: Pen, Vector, Shape, Line, Transform, Edit, Mask, Flatten.

The Digital Designer

This one’s for all our UX and UI designers out there. The Digital Designer is a master of repeating elements, iterations, and collaboration. They like keeping things handy and organized.

We recommend: Artboards, Symbols, Grid, Preview, Layout, Notifications

The Prototyper

All about seeing things in context, The Prototyper can’t stop and won’t stop at designing. They’re all about bringing their creations to life and selling their vision to partners and teammates. While they share, at their baseline, a lot of tools with the Digital Designer, there’s a whole side of Sketch that was created just for them.

We recommend: Preview, Hotspot, Slice, Links

The Accidental Designer

They never thought they’d end up designing Twitter banners when they decided to major in English, but here they are. They use Sketch to change copy, tweak templates, and make the most of their company’s design system. Collaboration is the name of the game, and they’ll always be quick to work things out in real-time. Their goal is to ace the art of simple designs (and feel like a pro while they’re at it).

We recommend: Insert, Text Styles, Export, Collaborate

The Pixel Terminator

This designer knows exactly what they want and how to get it. The Pixel Terminator doesn’t scale, they measure to the dot — even if the result is an odd number. They’re all about getting the design “just right”, and honestly, we respect that.

We recommend: Grid, Show Rulers, Zoom, Show Pixels, Colors

Of course, these are just some design personas to help you orient yourself. At the end of the day, every designer has their own process, talents, and tasks. The important thing is that you get to know the tools you have available and actively tailor your toolbar to better suit your needs.