Sketch Power User: The Optimal Sketch App Configuration

Welcome to the Sketch Power User series! If you’re reading this, then your already on your way to becoming a Sketch Power User! In this article we’ll be going over all the ways you can tweak your settings, app configuration, and more to be more efficient in Sketch!

Sketch Power User Toolbar Configuration

The optimal toolbar configuration for sketch only includes the tools that you can’t access via keyboard shortcut. This forces you to use keyboard shortcuts in your projects which will ultimately allow you to work much faster.

To configure your toolbar in Sketch go to View > Customize Toolbar.

Screenshot of Sketch Power User Toolbar Configuration With Numbers Itemized

The tools I have in my toolbar are:

  1. Data
  2. Add Image
  3. Create Symbol
  4. Insert Symbol
  5. Insert A Text Layer With A Style
  6. Insert Arrow
  7. Insert Star
  8. Insert Polygon
  9. Insert Triangle
  10. Make Grid
  11. Rotate Copies
  12. Create Mask
  13. Scissors
  14. Show/Hide Layout Columns
  15. Show/Hide Grid
  16. Show/Hide Measurement Rulers
  17. Pixel/Vector Mode
  18. Round To Pixel
  19. Upload Document To Sketch Cloud
  20. Preview Prototype
  21. Show/Hide Prototype Hotspots
  22. Insert Hotspot
  23. Link Hotspot To Artboard

They’re all grouped by type to make things a little easier.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Sketch has a lot of keyboard shortcuts, and the toolbar configuration above does include items that have a keyboard shortcut, but if you’re newer to Sketch I’d recommend this configuration. Mainly because if you’re not familiar with the tools, you may not even know that they exist if they’re not in view. You can remove items from your toolbar as you become more comfortable with Sketch overall and memorize new shortcuts.

New Artboard A
Slice S
Rectangle R
Rounded Rectangle U
Oval O
Line L
Vector Point V
Pencil P
Text T

There’s many more keyboard shortcuts, but these are the ones you should memorize first.

Sketch Power User Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

You can even create custom keyboard shortcuts if you notice that you’re preforming a certain task over and over and you want to have a shortcut for it.

To create a custom keyboard shortcut go into your computer’s preferences Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts and click Add. Then select Sketch to define your shortcut.

Screenshot of how to create a custom keyboard shortcut for Sketch and become a Sketch Power User

Here’s where you define the shortcut.

Screenshot of completed custom keyboard shortcut for Sketch

So since Sketch doesn’t have a default shortcut for adding Polygons I created my own. There’s a few limitations to this and the first is that your shortcut has to be something that’s already defined in the apps toolbar. The other limitation is that you need to make sure that your chosen shortcut isn’t already in use by the app.

Screenshot of custom keyboard shortcut in Sketch's top toolbar

And there you have it! Your own custom keyboard shortcut. You can add as many as you want and you can even do this for any other desktop apps you use.


Libraries are a way to share project components and assets with others. They’ve got a lot of cool uses, and Sketch even has some available by default. Personally I actually have Sketch’s native libraries disabled because I almost never need to use them in my day-to-day work, and having them enabled creates an unnecessary level of dropdown in your symbols menu.

Check out Sketch’s documentation on Libraries to learn more.

Global Colors & Gradients

For colors and gradients, you have the ability to add and remove global colors and gradients. Global colors and gradients are presets for colors and gradients that you use often. They appear in all of your sketch files, and are not a library, but more of a list of shortcuts.

If you find that you use a particular color or gradient often, add it to your globals!

Screenshot of global gradients in Sketch

Default Layer Style

So, if you’ve used sketch for any length of time, you’re familiar with this issue. Every. single. time. you create a new shape it’s got that annoying grey boarder that you have to disable. It may seem like a small thing, but the time you waste doing this adds up over time.

The fix is simple: remove the outline. You do this by adding your own custom default layer style. You can actually make this default layer style anything you want.

First, create a layer. Then make it look like whatever you want your default layer style to be. Then go to Layer > Style > Set As Default Style. Now you’ll never have to remove that annoying outline again.

Sketch Power User Preferences

There’s a few small tweaks you can make in your preferences that’ll make a world of difference when working in sketch.

Layer Preferences

Screenshot of Sketch's Layer preferences with optimal configuration

When you’re duplicating layers in Sketch, by default the layers will stack directly on top of each other and it’ll add “Copy #” to each copy of the layer. This means that you’ll not only waste time selecting the layer you want because you’ll have to select it from the sidebar, you’ll also waste time renaming layers.

So with the default settings, duplicating layers looks like this:

Gif of copying layers without optimal preference configuration

And with the optimized settings, duplicating layers looks like this:

Gif of copying layers in Sketch with optimal preference configuration

You’ll also want to make sure that you have “Flatten Bitmaps” set to @2x because your flattened layers will have a higher resolution.

Export Presets

Export presets are another repetitive task that you can optimize. If you find that every time you need to export an image you have to delete and re-add export file types, you can set the export presets to what you actually use the most. If you go to Preferences > Presets you can set your own custom export presets.

Screenshot of Export Preset Preferences in Sketch for Sketch Power Users

Small tweaks can save you a lot of time in the long run.

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