Unity Editor: Your interface, Your rules
Learn about the Unity Editor and ways to modify it to your liking
It’s time for you to get adjusted to the editor’s interface. You’ll spend many hours managing each editor window, looking through different tools, and searching for your personal assets, so you may as well fit the editor’s layout to your needs.
The default Editor windows
- A: Hierarchy. A list of all the Game Objects within the current loaded scene. Think of it as a list of elements in a film studio: You have the camera, lighting, a stage, props, and of course, the actors (the player, the enemies, and the NPCs).
- B.1: Scene Viewport. Your 2D / 3D space where you can arrange your Game Objects in a scene. Again, think yourself as a film director: you decide what’s inside a scene or level, and you choose where to place your Game Objects.
To move yourself around the viewport, hold the right mouse button and press the WASD keys.
- B.2: Game Viewport (See the Game tab next to the Scene tab). Shows you how the game renders and plays through your main active cameras.
- B.3: Asset Store (See the Asset Store tab next to the Game tab). Sometimes, you’ll need some assets that you’re not capable of making yourself. You can buy any kind of asset that will help you get going.
- C: Inspector. Shows a currently selected Game Object’s properties. Every Game Object has components you can modify, but every Game Object will always have a Transform component.
- D.1: Project. All the available content / assets within your project. To import assets, it’s as simple as dragging them in here.
- D.2: Console. Displays log messages, warnings or errors in your scripts.
- Extra: If you want to know more about the interface, click here to read the official Unity Manual detailing each window.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, there are more windows you haven’t seen. If you want to check some out, you can do so by going to the
Windows tab above.
Changing the layout
The default layout isn’t very efficient, to say the least. Let me explain why:
- Hierarchy and Inspector are not close to each other. Every time that you want to modify a specific Game Object in your scene, you have to move your mouse all the way to left, and then to the right. If you do that for multiple objects… yeah, that’s time-consuming.
- Can’t see the Scene and Game view at the same time. It’s annoying to constantly swap between those two windows whenever you want to check / modify something.
- Project window is too big. It takes a lot of space that could be used by other windows (such as the Scene window).
- Not designed for your project / role needs. If you’re mostly programming, you’ll want your console to have enough space in the editor. If you’re focusing on level design, you’ll want more space for the Scene windows. So on and so forth. The default layout as it is, is inefficient for any kind of task.
Luckily for us, you can change the layout and how much space a window takes. How, you ask? By simply dragging the tabs, you can move them wherever you want, and dragging the window’s sides to resize them!
If you change the current layout to the one displaying above, you’ll gain a lot of efficiency, no matter the project. However, always change the layout according to your needs.
What if you want multiple layouts? Well, Unity has you covered. In the top-right corner, you’ll see a button that says “Layouts”. It will show you some template layouts, and below, options to save and delete layouts.
Experiment and find a layout that works best for you!
Changing the appearance
You’ve probably noticed that my editor looks darker than yours. That’s because you can change between Light and Dark mode! To do so, go to
Edit > Preferences... > General, and you’ll find the Editor Theme option.
Fun fact: In previous versions to the 2019.4, Dark mode wasn’t available for free users. It was a premium feature that was later changed, to the suprise to everyone. (Thank you Unity for that ❤).
That’s not all. If you head to that same Preferences window, and look into the Colors section, you’ll be able to change even more aspects of the Editor. Though, one of the most useful colors you can change is the Playmode tint.
If you forget that you’re in Playmode, and you’ve made changes, as soon as you exit, all those changes will be erased. You need to make sure you’re able to distinguish between Edit and Play mode.
And one last thing before I wrap up, see those three dots on the right side of every window? You can further customize those windows by clicking those! For example, we’ll experiment with the Project window’s appearance. If you click on the dots and select between One Column and Two Columns, you’ll see a big difference.
- One column will only show the folders and assets. Use this if you’re not working with visual assets.
- Two columns will show those, and will visualize assets, such as 3D models, animations, prefabs… Use this if you don’t mind having space removed, and prefer it shows you how the assets look like.
I probably skipped some stuff, so investigate further the Editor, try new combinations, try clicking every button and figure everything out for yourself. That’s sometimes the gamedev way. :)
Still, this article should help you enough to completely understand how the Editor works! Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you in the next article.