Skip Navigation
Learn design

Libraries, an in-depth look

Take collaboration to the next level with Libraries — the perfect way to centralize your components

At Sketch, we’re all about helping you work smarter, not harder. That’s why reusable components are a central piece of our design platform. But you don’t need to limit reusable components to a single document. With Libraries, you can keep your components organized and accessible across multiple documents — and even your entire Workspace.

Let’s learn more about this powerhouse tool! 👇

What are Libraries and how to create one

A Library is a special type of Sketch document, which makes its components available to use in other documents across your Workspace. Right now, you can use Libraries to share and manage Symbols, Text Styles, Color Variables, Layer Styles and Artboard Templates. Plus, whenever you make changes to the components in a Library, those edits will sync across any other document that uses them.

You can turn any document into a Library by heading to the menu bar and selecting File > Add as Library in the Mac app.

To do the same in the web app, open the document and click on the three dots icon, select Setting and enable the checkbox in the Use as a Library section.

As you can see, it’s super simple to turn a document into a Library.

How to use Libraries and their components

Once you create a Library, you’ll want to use it — and the components it holds — across your Workspace. To enable Libraries in your documents, press , to open the Library tab in the Settings and select the ones you want from the list. You can also use this window to add local Libraries.

Pro tip: To easily keep Library components up to date, make sure you check the “Automatically download and update Libraries” box at the bottom of the Library settings.

Now that you’ve got your Library — or Libraries — enabled, it’s super simple to use their components in your document. The easiest route is to use the Insert Window, which you can access by pressing C or by choosing Window > Insert in the menu.

From here, you can easily search and insert any components in your Library by dragging it into the Canvas.

If you’re more familiar with the Insert menu or are working with a smaller Library, you can also use that instead. Just click on the + button in the toolbar, choose the component type you’d like to search for, and select any component from the submenu.

You’ll also be able to find components in your Library through the Inspector. For example, if you want to change a Layer Style, any Library Styles enabled will show up in the dropdown menu.

Learn more: Check out our Sketch 102 lesson on Libraries — it’s free!

How to keep things tidy with Document Libraries

When you work with lots of Libraries, places like the Insert window can get a little crowded. To help keep things tidy, you can enable the Libraries you need just for specific documents. This way, you won’t have to search through all the shared components in your Workspace to find what you’re looking for. Best of all? You can make sure anyone who opens the document will have these libraries automatically installed and available.

In the Libraries tab in the Document Settings, you’ll see all the available Libraries in your Workspace. You can automatically add any or all Libraries to your document by checking off the box beside them.

You can use the (,) shortcut to open the Libraries tab in the Document Settings.

How to share Libraries with your team

As soon as you save a Library to your Workspace, it’ll become automatically available for everybody in your team. People can subscribe to the Library themselves in their Preferences or — in the case of Document Libraries — they’ll already be enabled.

The beauty of Libraries is that everyone in your Workspace can view the changes you make to your document. However, there are times when you’ll want to limit who can see certain Library documents or specific versions. And you can totally do that!

How to control Library distribution

Whenever you make a change to a document, those changes will be available live for everyone else. Without distribution controls in place, that might put a bit too much pressure on your back. We want you to work comfortably and take all the time you need to deliver your best work.

Here are a few ways to manage Library access:

Use My Drafts to keep Libraries completey private

When you create a Library in My Drafts, it will be available as a Library just for you. This is handy for those elements you use frequently in your designs but that aren’t necessarily interesting or helpful for the rest of the team. Or if you’re just trying things about before sharing wtih the team at large.

Fine-tuning distribution with starred versions

Before you switch to always working privately in My Drafts and then moving over to a public project — there’s no need! Instead, you can create starred versions of your Library.

For example, say you have an existing brand guide Library but you need to make some changes. You can star the current version so that anyone who’s using that Library will only get that version updated or downloaded to their documents.

Once you’re done making changes and are happy with the brand guide Library, all you have to do is star the latest version and the rest of the team will instantly receive the update.

Note: If you’re on the receiving end of a Library update, you’ll receive a document notification under the Bell icon to let you know there are new components available. Then, it’s up to you to accept or reject them!

Benefits of working with Libraries

Now that you know how to set up your own Library, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits.

One source of truth

With Libraries, you can keep all your components in sync and accessible across your Workspace. Instead of manually sending out a document with updates and hoping your teammates get it right, you can simply update the Library components you’ve all been using. Same goes for your own projects if you’re working solo!

Full control

Libraries can be for everyone, or just for yourself. You can keep them on the down low in My Drafts, grant access to specific documents, or spread it all across your Workspace. You can even use starred versions to make sure your teammates use only the right version.

At the same time, you can rest easy knowing you can only make changes to Library components through the Library file itself, so no one will accidentally overwrite the original designs from their document.

Better organization

You can go as granular as you want, whether that means creating one Library document to store everything or having one Library for each project. You can even split them by platform (iOS vs web) or use them to organize specific Symbol groups or Color Variables.

Faster workflow

Libraries help you cut the guessing game in two ways. One, you’ll know exactly where your components are. And two, your components will update for you across documents. It’s a win-win. Not to mention, you can also use Libraries to make use of Sketch’s ready-to-go templates for presentations, social posts, mockups, business cards and so much more.

We hope this post helps you take your Library game to the next level. And if you haven’t created your first library yet, what are you waiting for?

You may also like

Try Sketch for free

Whether you’re new to Sketch, or back to see what’s new, we’ll have you set up and ready to do your best work in minutes.

Get started for free
Get started for free