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How to get started with real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration is here — here’s how to get the design party started

We’re excited to bring real-time collaboration to Sketch. Read on to find out how to get set up, and start collaborating with others in the same Sketch document.

Once you save a Workspace document in the latest version of the Mac app, anyone opening the document in Sketch 70.6 or earlier will only be able to save the file locally. Any changes they make will not update the document in your Workspace.

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.

You’ll need a subscription to get started with real-time collaboration. This is different to a Mac-only license, so you’ll need to check your status before you get started. To do this, open the Mac app and choose Sketch > Preferences, then select the Account tab. If you have a subscription, you’ll see the Workspace(s) that you’re a member of listed below your profile picture. You can click Account Settings… for more information.

An image showing the Sketch Preferences window, with the Account panel open. This area shows the different Workspaces you belong to.

Note: This menu might look slightly different if your team uses SSO to sign in.

Real-time collaboration is included at no extra cost with your subscription. 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 Workspace or not. More on that below.

Get the design party started

First things first — if you haven’t already, grab the latest version of the Mac app. You can either update your existing version, or download the latest release from our site.

Now, let’s get your document ready for collaboration. Once you’ve done this, anyone running Sketch 70.6 or earlier will only be able to save the document locally — their changes will not update the document in your Workspace. 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 — with a subscription, every Editor in your Workspace will automatically be able to download and use the latest version of the Mac app.

It’s also important to note that you must save your documents to a Workspace before you can collaborate in real-time. Once your document is 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 Workspace. Everyone else in your Workspace will then have access to the document automatically, and you can start collaborating with other Editors right away.

You can also invite people who are not members of your Workspace to collaborate, so long as they have a valid license, the latest version of the Mac app and a Sketch Account. Find out how in our documentation.

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  (or the number) in the Collaborate toolbar item and choose Copy Link. Share it with members of your Workspace 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.

Managing multiplayer

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 Editors in the Collaborate toolbar item, and clicking the  (or the number) shows a complete list of active and idle Editors.

An image showing the Collaboration menu open in a Sketch window, and other collaborators’ cursors on the Canvas.

On the Canvas, you’ll see a different colored cursor for each Editor, 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 focused on your work.

Follow mode and Preferences

If you want to jump straight to a specific user’s view and 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 yourself non-followable in the Collaboration menu by clicking on your own avatar. 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.

Version control

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 update

In fact, you only need to hit File > Save or S when you want to create a new update — 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 updates 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 update in your Workspace whenever you close a document or quit the app. Find out more in our documentation.

And because every update you save is in your Workspace, it’s easy to revisit a previous iteration and download it, if you need to. Find out more in our documentation.

Editors and Viewers

Remember, while only Editors in your Workspace 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 Workspace as you like. They can log into the web app, 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 the web app 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.

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