Custom Layouts in Unity

Introduction

We have Unity installed and ready to begin making a new game! Exciting times, indeed.

There’s another step we should take before diving in, however. If you’re new to Unity, the interface can be a bit daunting at first sight. We’ll get into the specifics of what all these windows and options do in future posts, but for now, I want to set you up for success with a custom layout that I use daily. It will be a great starting point for you to customize as you get more comfortable with Unity and form your personal preferences and make your own custom layout.

Rearranging Windows

You can find the windows available to you via the Window menu, with the "General" section containing the mainstays. When I reference opening a Window, this is the menu I’m referring to do so. Simply click and drag window handles to customize the layout practically any way you want and save them; even as an external file, you can back up if you’d like.

My Custom Layout

The following screenshot identifies four groups of windows and the inspector to the far right. The rest of this post will go into detail on how I made this layout. If you’re new to Unity, this is an excellent opportunity to get comfortable moving windows around and forming the layout. If you want to skip the process and download my layout directly, it is available here on GitHub!

Unity Custom Layout

If you want to build it with me, let’s walk through each group.

Group 1

You should already have the Scene window visible from the default layout, so open the "Animator" window and drag it beside the Scene tab to dock them together. I prefer this because it can be helpful to have a lot of space for both the Scene and Animator. I rarely need anything else to take up this much space.

Group 1

Group 2

The focus of this group is to visualize and test the game using the Game window. The other windows I’ve placed in this group are "Animation" and "Audio Mixer." This setup has worked well for me because the Game window is just below the Scene window, and Animation and Audio Mixer are close by without needing to take up a lot of vertical space.

Group 2

Group 3

This group has proved to be a significant productivity boost from the default layout!

First, get the Project and Hierarchy windows together side-by-side, like so:

Group 3

By default, the Project window will be in a two-column layout, which takes up too much space for my liking. Click the small ellipsis button near the lock icon in the tab well and then select "One Column Layout."

Ah, much better.

Group 4

The final group of windows is the Console and Test Runner. The Console window provides logs, warnings, and errors that will be helpful during the development of your games. You can write logs directly to this window programmatically to reveal the game state, or practically anything else you find valuable.

The Test Runner gets us into the topic of automated tests, which we will dive into later. Just know that the test runner does precisely what it says; once we have written tests, the test runner window is what we use to run said tests and see what passed/failed.

Group 4

Inspector

Finally, we have the all mighty inspector window to the far right. I leave quite a bit of space for this window because it displays dynamic user interfaces based on what’s selected in the Project and Hierarchy windows.

Saving Layouts

We made it to the end of creating a custom layout. Now let’s save it so we can recall it later.

Go to the Window menu item once more, then hover over "Layouts" and click "Save Layout". Give it a name, and click "Save."

That’s it! You can also access layouts quickly by using the dropdown on the top right side of the editor that has the current layout name selected. If you’d like to save your layout as a file to back up yourself or share with others, choose "Save Layout to File," and you’ll be prompted with a save dialog to choose where you want to save it.

Summary

You now have a custom layout that you can modify as you work more with Unity and gather your own preferences based on your workflow! Pretty exciting and a nice feature Unity provides.

Let me know what you think!
Take care.

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