Design & UX
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7 Fantastic Plugins to Level-up Your Sketch App Powers

By Daniel Schwarz

Some days I find myself wondering whether the core fundamentals of Sketch App can even be improved by plugin functionality. Sketch App is a breeze to use because its features are minimal.

As true as that may be, it doesn’t mean that we can’t extend its usefulness here and there with Sketch App plugins. In this article, I’ll talk about managing plugins with the Sketch Toolbox and a few of my everyday favourites. Let's start with the Sketch Toolbox.

Managing Your Plugins with Sketch Toolbox

If you don’t already have it, download the Sketch Toolbox, which is a separate Mac App created by Shahruz Shauka that manages plugins for Sketch. If you've used Sublime extensions or Atom packages, Sketch Toolbox should feel familiar.

It offers an incredibly straightforward way of installing and uninstalling Sketch plugins from its own curated database of awesome add-ons.

Sketch Toolbox

Sketch Toolbox

Plugins That Can Significantly Speed up Your Workflow

Some of these Sketch plugins can be activated with nothing more than a keyboard shortcut, whereas others require a little more explanation. One of those is AEIconizer, which copies your icon design artboard and creates multiple iOS-ready clones – the name has always baffled me, but its effectiveness is outstanding.

Chances are you currently use of Smart Objects when designing iOS icons in Photoshop. Sketch App doesn’t have that functionality (maybe because it can hinder performance), so search for and install “AEIconizer” with Sketch Toolbox, and then use command+shift+i while actively focusing on a square artboard of any size. We now have our icon design in 14 different sizes.

If you decide to make a change to the design (now labelled as “Icon-Original”), simply run that keyboard shortcut again.

Nifty.

AEIconizer interface

AEIconizer

Sketch Commands is another keyboard shortcut tool that adds a colossal amount of convenient keypresses to Sketch App’s already well-stocked repertoire. Perform a huge raft of tasks from rapid-selecting to applying intricate image effects with nothing more than a few keyboard taps.

Content Generator doesn’t have any shortcuts associated with it, but you can select a layer (or multiple similar layers), navigate to Plugins → Content Generator Sketch Plugin from the menu bar, and then choose anything from locations, e-mail addresses, names, images, 'time ago' dates and 'lorem ipsum'.

Plugins That Collaborate with Apps You Already Use

Facebook Origami, Slack, FramerJS, Zeplin and Marvel App are some very well-known and critically-acclaimed tools that many of us designer folk could not survive without, so it’s almost inevitable that these plugins exist to help bridge the gap between these epic mostly-prototyping tools and Sketch App.

Each of these 'helper extensions' use a quick shortcut that will upload your designs to those apps without you having to lift a finger. Depending on your workflow, this might be something you need to do several times a day.

Facebook Origami, Slack, FramerJS, Zeplin and Marvel App icons

Facebook Origami, Slack, FramerJS, Zeplin and Marvel App

Quick but Highly Effective Plugins

Easier.cc isn’t as well-known, but like some of the applications mentioned above, it’s useful for sharing your artboards with other team members or clients. The big difference is that Easier.cc requires no sign up at all and instead offers you a link that expires within 24 hours.

It’s spectacularly simple!

Easier.cc

Easier.cc

CSS Buddy is somewhat experimental at this stage but has always worked well for me. If interfaces are really not your thing (or you just have a nerdy heart), you might enjoy designing with code. Press command+shift+a, write your raw CSS straight into the dialog box, and then watch your layer transform.

Copy Fill Color is like the opposite of CSS Buddy… for colors. Select a layer, use command+shift+f and the hex color code of that layer will be copied to the clipboard, ready for pasting into your code editor.

Sketch Notebook is a singular keyboard shortcut (command+option+control+9) that will create a sidebar for your artboards with comments of your choice. This is super useful for adding annotated notes to your designs or even creating a handy inline style guide directly in the .sketch file itself.

Sketch Notebook

Sketch Notebook

Conclusion

Of all the wonderful Sketch App plugins I’ve mentioned in this article, only a few might be useful to your specific workflow. However this shortlist only represents a small taste of what Sketch Toolbox has to offer – and there are even more useful, time-saving add-ons if you’re willing to browse GitHub.

But be warned: After using some of these gems for a while, you might wonder how you ever lived without them!

  • Tim

    Sketch doesn’t use Smart Objects, as you said. It uses symbols, which are much better and easier to change.

    • https://mrdaniels.ch/warz/ Daniel Schwarz

      Very true, but if you resize a Symbol, they will all resize. Photoshop has more flexibility there.

      • Tim

        True, but it also has global styles, which can be used in much the same way, as they will change the style set to an object without changing it’s size. Additionally, for the icon example, it is rare that I see an icon that doesn’t need some hand-finessing at smaller sizes to make it look readable, thus you’d need to break a link to the symbol or break the smart object anyway. My 16×16 pixel icons almost never look the same as the ones I create at 256px. Maybe it’s my OCD for perfect icons?

        • https://mrdaniels.ch/warz/ Daniel Schwarz

          No, I totally feel the same way. Well, sometimes anyway – with simple icons they often look nice at any size, but with more complex designs it’s useful to have that Shared Style functionality. You can definitely use them with the AEIconier Plugin.

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