Apr 2 2013

The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2

This is a follow-up post to The Best Hidden Features In Sketch. After 5 months, I still find myself learning new design techniques in Sketch. It’s a very mature design tool now thanks to their constant updates. Some of their features are really useful, yet not obvious and probably underutilized. With this article, I’m hoping to reveal more of these hidden features and show how to use them.


Smart Guides and Dimensions

Smart guides are my favorite thing. Layers and Folders would snap and align beautifully to edges. Sketch made this feature even better by allowing you to see all the spacing and guides when you select a layer and hold Alt while moving your cursor to different areas. Like this, you can quickly see all the spacing between each design element. It’s a tool that normally needed xScope, but it’s completely built-in in Sketch.


Round to Nearest Pixel Edge

In my previous blog posts, I have been a strong advocate for rounding fractional numbers for Pixel Perfection results. Well, Dominik showed me this neat feature in Sketch that specifically helps you round the x and y positions. While selecting a layer that’s positioned in fractional numbers, you can go Edit / Round to Nearest Pixel Edge. I use this so frequently that I added to my Mac’s Keyboard Shortcuts.


Set Style as Default

One of my biggest complaints about any design application is how the default properties always need editing. In Photoshop, the default drop shadow and global angle are never ideal. In Sketch, you also have this default color and grey border that comes with every shape you create.

Thankfully, you can set a different default style. To do this, simply create that layer with the perfect style and go to Edit / Set Style As Default.


Add Slice For Selection

This is a feature very similar to New Layer Based Slice in Photoshop except you can select multiple layers and create slices based on their dimensions. Combined with Sketch’s powerful export options, this truly is an excellent tool to quickly create and export assets. I also added this option to my Keyboard Shortcuts.


Masking and Alpha Masking

Sketch has a very unique way to mask layers. Any layer can serve as a mask for all the same-level layers, folders and sub-folders. This is very powerful, so keep an eye on what you’re masking because you will be scratching your head as to why some elements are hidden. You must isolate masks in their own folders. Once you get comfortable, you may find it more efficient than adding a Layer Mask in Photoshop since you can easily edit the layer that’s masking.

Oh and you can also use an Alpha Mask. It’s tricky:

1) Create new rectangle layer.

2) Go to Edit / Use As Mask.

3) Go to Edit / Mask Mode / Alpha Mask.

4) On the layer’s Inspector, go to Fill, set Gradient and edit the alpha.

Download the .sketch file to see an example (Thanks to Sam | Sneek for his Wireframe):


Text on Path

I personally haven’t used this much, but I was impressed at how it worked. By simply creating a path or any shape and setting the subsequent text layer to Edit / Text on Path, the text will magically follow the shape of the path. It’s a bit tricky to use, so make sure to drag around your text layer to find the sweet spot. Download the .sketch file for example:


Find Layer

If you named your layers, you may find the Find Layer feature very useful. It’s somewhat hidden because you can’t access it through a visible UI. Instead, you have to use Command + F and the Page drop down menu will change into a search bar.


Final Thought

If you find useful features that are well hidden in Sketch, please feel free to share them in the comments or by sending me a Tweet. Happy Sketching!

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105 responses to “The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2”

  1. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 http://t.co/ovYfZSFcUv

  2. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch, part 1: http://t.co/gXxjmiyX8a part 2: http://t.co/KfcoMBRk2N

  3. @dnman13 says:

    Awesome hidden features in Sketch 2. I HAVE to start using this app!! http://t.co/Jda5Se6sNq

  4. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/AulGQDRAlE

  5. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/8r8DjHWTvU

  6. Awesome post! :)
    I find many new features everyday day in Sketch, but you are featuring the best.

  7. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/Aww3CgbgiN

  8. @SeifSallam says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/u2blqj5Y8P

  9. @cole_peters says:

    I’m still using Photoshop for UI design, but these “hidden” features in Sketch continue to entice me to switch:


  10. @nvk says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 http://t.co/UGAllnECt3 #design

  11. @justinavery says:

    @laurakalbag am sure you already know these but just incase http://t.co/hokip3pQ0P

  12. @arpitnj says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2. http://t.co/G9Ksa9T6Ap

  13. The best hidden features in Sketch (Part 2)… http://t.co/WOSTRK37uW

  14. David says:

    Great post as per usual. I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your posts, and reading them has become somewhat of highlight of my days. Keep it up!

  15. @kuswanto says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To – http://t.co/UpYefNI9Mq

  16. @SidebarIO says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch, Part 2 http://t.co/7dwCCt3FV7

  17. @jfdej says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/uvCHjNAsPv

  18. Mario Uher says:

    Great post as usual, though I think I found a typo ;)

    In the **Masking and Alpha Masking** section, point 2 should be **Edit / Use as Mask**.

  19. @yottoy says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/QNdQwRoKC2

  20. @Chrisedmo says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2: http://t.co/wcC1JLfNGq from the excellent @mengto #Sketch

  21. Shahnawaz says:


    I must compliment you on the nice effort that you put in educating us on the usage of Sketch. Honestly I purchased sketch only after reading your posts and find it to be awesome.

    What bugs me are the Bugs in Sketch (have posted some on the app website) but I think Sketch is a great app and I would love to see it grow. Internally I have given instruction to my team to build proficiency on Sketch, Gimp and Pixelmator, so that we as an Organization reduce our dependency on expensive bloated design applications.

    And I must thank you for the wonderful posts about Sketch that enlightens us about the capacity of the application. Also must compliment you on your design skills I just love the colors, approach, and perspective that you bring in your designs.

    You are an encouragement to all of us

    Thanks again and keep it up.


  22. Stratosferik says:

    Very nice roundup on Sketch,
    Like many, your posts made me try out sketch, and I’m trying to use it as much as I can now. (except when workfiles have to be reused by others who don’t use sketch).

    Keep up the good work.

    A shortcut that I find really useful too:
    Copy & paste a layer style with cmd+alt+c cmd+alt+v



  23. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/9a0Zxp08up

  24. Hi Meng, great post as always and thanks for linking to my resource file!



  25. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/TY3jHJKyuU

  26. I love @sketchapp, and its simple power. Therefor I read The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/f3KxwvAyl6

  27. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To – UI/UX Designer http://t.co/oqwThXa5NK via @kippt

  28. @cardeo says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To – UI/UX Designer http://t.co/HjffQyzQ2T

  29. @_kkga says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To|UI/UX Designer http://t.co/5Jl4Qy8f8V

  30. Jarnof says:

    Man, I’ve read all of these sketch posts but haven’t yet really even tested the software, I think now it’s the time. Thanks!

  31. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 http://t.co/vsaG0Pyzxq

  32. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To|UI/UX Designer http://t.co/1aBRlb4zNn

  33. Fabian says:

    I’m a bit late to the party also. Excellent blog, you made me want to give Sketch a test drive. Downloaded and pasting up my L plates as I type:)

  34. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/zlIz7b36bl

  35. @mcdave says:

    @ainiesta @pausansol sketch hidden features http://t.co/qEK2kqNGUg

  36. @gduplessy says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To|UI/UX Designer http://t.co/51sgOCnTPT

  37. @kuswanto says:

    @hellosigit it’s far more lighter than Fireworks. Read this: http://t.co/UpYefNI9Mq and read other articles on Meng To’s blog.

  38. @thinkmariya says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 http://t.co/DlEHxMZzTI

  39. @kiselyove says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/jc5LMGXpWf

  40. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/LW9zfoshOs

  41. Emanuel Sá says:

    Emanuel from Bohemian here,

    You guys have been awesome on your support to sketch, we’re giving back with 2 promo-codes for the readers of Meng’s blog.

    have fun!


  42. LarryDavid says:

    Many thanks Emanuel! I have been sitting on the fence with regards to making the transition to Photoshop, and I think this has finally pushed me over the edge.

  43. LarryDavid says:

    (spelling correction) ^^ From Photoshop, not to it!

  44. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To|UI/UX Designer http://t.co/Xmlxq2vJ5s

  45. […] The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by Meng To. Even more great features to try! Sketch is a very mature design tool that belies its simple interface. How have I never used Text on Path before? […]

  46. Sebastian says:

    As always, great post Meng,

    That alpha mask tip is great.

    Great knowledge sharing


  47. Devin says:

    Round to Nearest Pixel Edge is possibly my favourite tip so far. Thanks!

    Keep up the good work, your tuts have really helped transition away from Photoshop :D

  48. @pveugen says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part http://t.co/OIomRRX0Er

  49. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/SRYMPJ4vi2 @sketchapp

  50. Fir those of you who just got sketch this is a must read http://t.co/B7qJ0MU4ai

  51. @GavicoInd says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/pmoS0440wz

  52. The Best Hidden Features In Sketch (Part 2) http://t.co/vIj8rTgZRG

  53. @mattonik says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To|UI/UX Designer http://t.co/wEmq8AsECV

  54. It seems I was wrong, its quite a mature tool, a must-read writeup on hidden features of #Sketch @bohemiancoding http://t.co/THZphrmbSs

  55. @twihateb says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 | Meng To – UI/UX Designer
    B! http://t.co/obvTm8RTjB

  56. @rickerlr says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/VN8Wchb8C6

  57. @kartooner says:

    @mikegee Oh no, but from what I’ve read it sounds like a worthy update. Also, have you read this? http://t.co/u6cJHSlN52

  58. Liza Bel says:

    Your blog is like the Sketch magic land for me. Not using Sketch as the main tool (still too attached to Fireworks) I have not enough time to investigate its capacities by myself, and your posts save my life and give ability to learn and progress. Thank you and please keep going.

    Take care

  59. JakesCreates says:

    I am a big lover of Fireworks but the news released by Adobe has made me question if it is going to be worth sticking with.

    Sketch looks like a great app and I have downloaded the trial version due to your posts. Does look really interesting.

    Does anyone have thoughts on why I should use this over Fireworks or should they work along side one another?

    Really interested to hear people thoughts.

    Keep up the good reviews/posts.

    Many thanks.

  60. JakesCreates says:

    Oh, just found this article which I think is going to answer my question about the benefits of Sketch over Fireworks : )


  61. @sam_bowler says:

    @jegtnes There’s also a two part post on Sketch’s best hidden features, enjoy! http://t.co/DIbKvFVvav http://t.co/Lqp4TuFHRB

  62. @ian_mar says:

    The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 by @MengTo: http://t.co/AbFRtLgirY

  63. @jaythrash says:

    @jnjosh seen this? Sketch.app “dimensions” feature looks a lot like the TT “red lines” design documents. http://t.co/UkzN7uATFP

  64. James says:

    Thanks for another great post. I did have one question for you though. At the beginning of the post you mentioned Smart Guides and Dimensions but those were only for shifting elements around. I was curious how you ‘redline’ or ‘spec’ your Sketch designs for your developer. In Photoshop I use PNGExpress and in Fireworks I use Specctr. I haven’t been able to find an easy way to do it in Sketch and wanted to know if you had any suggestions. Thanks again for all the great post.

  65. Keegs says:

    Good post. Something about masks that you didn’t mention is that once you group your layers, the mask shape has to be the bottom most layer in the group. Also, you have to select just the mask layer for the “edit > use mask” command to work. If you select the whole group, that option isn’t available.

    It took me a while to figure that part out, since it’s the opposite of Illustrator (mask is the shape on top, and you need to have all objects selected).

  66. PK says:

    Thanks for all the Sketch write-ups! I’m a new designer who is trying to make Sketch my primary tool (vs. Photoshop) and your blog has been an invaluable resource.

    Keep these tutorials coming!

  67. Francesco says:

    great post and thanks for these features!

  68. Osandi says:

    Great post, Meng.

    Looking forward to the next one.

  69. Kaitlin says:

    Here’s a tip I just figured out. When using masks, hide the mask layer so you can click through the mask to whatever is below. Reveal the mask if you’d like to be able to click on it directly. Unlike photoshop, hiding the mask does not stop it from working.

  70. Alex McCabe says:

    I have been adding custom shortcuts, but it won’t let me add vertical and horizontal centre alignments. It’s frustrating me. Anybody have any ideas?

  71. […] The Best Hidden Features In Sketch Part 2 […]

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    Thanks Meng. I really appreciate your insights.

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  77. Simon says:

    Great tips, thanks a lot!

  78. seo sem says:

    Right now it looks like Expression Engine is the top blogging platform
    available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your

  79. Sean says:

    Hi Meng how do you go about exporting a 1px horizontal rules at @1x?

  80. Nam says:

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This article posted at this site is really

  81. Have you discovered a new way to apply a shortcut to “round to the nearest pixel edge” since they removed a shortcut from the default?

  82. Mariam Dallo says:

    hi! waw what an amazing and rich article that you share with us. I guess it took you a very much time and patiente! Well i didn’t find when i go to “Edit / Set Style As Default” on sketch and adding slice for selection. Can you tell me how can i resolve my problem? Thanks a lot :)

  83. Lorenzo says:

    Great article! There is a way to move layers between opened .sketch file? If not, there is a way to do something like that?

    Thanks :)

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