Rhino 8 Feature: Layers Panel Improvements

Layers are containers for objects in your model. You can use them to group related objects and make it easier to work with your model.

The Layers panel manages your layers. You can create new layers, rename them, arrange them in to categories, change their properties (such as color, visibility and render material), and move objects between layers.

Rhino 8 offers many improvements to the Layers panel.

For all users, here are the Rhino 8 Layers panel improvements you will want to try:

• Unified User Interface - The Layers panel now looks the same, acts the same, and has the same features on both Windows and Mac.

Rhino for Windows

Rhino for Mac

• Docking - You can dock the Layers panel anywhere - top, bottom, left, or right on the Rhino application window.


• Search Bar - Search for the layer names you want to see in the list .


• Custom Column Visibility - A persistent configuration of columns for both Model and Layouts views.


• Improved Drag and Drop - More control when dragging to re-order and re-parent layers.


• New Layer Random Color - Right mouse on the the New Layer and New Sublayer buttons to create layers with a random colors.


• Layer panel colors now compatible with Windows Dark Mode display.

For Layout users, try these Layers panel improvements.

• Model Viewport Visibility - This allow Model space layer visibility control that has no affect on your Layouts. For example, turning off a Dimension layer with the Model On column, will not affect any of your layouts that are showing annotations on the Dimension layer.

• Layout/Detail Quick Visibility Setting - This includes specific details selection. This allow you to turn off layer columns that you are not using and avoid having to scroll for your desired setting or column.

With Details Selected:

In an active Detail:

• New Detail On - This controls the default layer visibility of new details. Make new details and the layers marked as off are automatically turned off.

Try it - Download the model used in tutorial below) from here:

Layer Test V8.3dm (440.4 KB)

Let us know if these improvements work for you.

Mary Ann Fugier


Hi Mary, All,

Some very nice features here. Thanks for sharing. Some comments on what I see improved here but inconsistent, and what I don’t yet see fixed/improved:

  1. When you do a search for a word that only appear once (like Grid in your example), the layer panel isolated to only having that layer shown? What’s the reason for that? How’s is that useful? …compar that behavior to the more desirable behavior when you look for the word ‘sim’ and because you have many options it highlights them. I expect a highlight or results so I can find them on my layer stack, not hiding my later stack. Does that make sense?

  2. The most terrifying functionality in Rhino is that if I accidentally click the word ‘Layers’ like shown here:
    …it triggers a reorder in alphabetical order of my layers. And it’s not undoable if you do not notice it right away. I never, ever, ever want to sort my layers alphabetically. If this is still happening we should at least have a global option disable this functionality please.

  3. We still have no way to see which layers are empty. It has been asked in many thread over a decade now. The most common default way to do this is changing the layer name font color to gray. I was hoping to finally see this in V8. If not now, when?




@gustojunk have you used FILTERS with Layers? I use that all the time to find which Layers are empty.

Hi Andres, that is too clicky and too explicit. I’d would use that only if I suspect that layers are empty.

Also showing me that a layer is empty but only by isolating it in the layer stack removes all the layer stack context of where that layer is located. Not very useful IMO.

The point of having a different color is to tell me, before I even think about it, which layers are empty. Also a great way to know if I deleted the correct object, or the wrong one, or if I didn’t move an object correctly, or if I was not having the active layer that I intended to be active because no object are being created in the still empty/grayed-out layer, etc, etc, …and so many other practical use cases.

A proactive and assistive UX is much more useful that a frictionous one that forces you to always be on the lookout for problems, shifting your energy from where it should be: designing, creating, modeling.



1 Like

@mary Support of the request by @gustojunk for a global option to disable clicking on “Layer” triggering an alphabetical sort of the layers. I never sort layers alphabetically.

Added: Disabling automatic layer sorting is already available.

Since Rhino 5.0, you’ve had the ability to enable/disable this feature. In the Rhino WIP, just click the Tools (hamburger) menu button menu and uncheck the Column Sort item.



I agree on both Gustavo’s request:

  • removing the automatic sorting on alphabetical order
  • show empty layers

I would go even further: I don’t just want to see which layers are empty or not, I want to be able to see what is on a layer. You know, like all my objects, which I can then show/hide, select and most importantly name easily. Rhino is the only software I know where you basically end up creating a layer for everything if you want to organise your scene sensibly.

Why does every other 3D software have it, but not Rhino? I will never understand.

From a UX point of view I am baffled how selecting objects in the viewport is the only way to select them, unless you just want to select everything on a layer. In the end you create a layer for every little part, so why not just show me the hierarchy of my objects and let me name those and give them a color?

Of course make it optional or even a separate panel. The current layer panel is fine, what we need is an Objects Panel!!




Hi @seltzdesign you might be aware but, there is another way to select objects, but you need to give a name to each object, one by one or use _SetObjectName first to everything first.

The other way is named selections… but none of these options seems better than having a good list of objects easily distinguishable in the kind of object ( points, curves, surfaces, polysurfaces…

in 2020 there was an attempt to address this

But If I’m not wrong this project was put on hold until the new block manager is ready, am I right?

1 Like

Hi -

From the Tools menu in the Layers panel, you can disable “Column Sort”.

Currently, RH-65747 is still on the “Future” list.


Hi @gustojunk,

Rhino has worked this way since Rhino 1.0, amazingly. The Search/Filter/Match control has always been buried in a dialog. So we’ve moved it to the main panel; hopefully more convenient. FWIW, searching for files in Windows Explorer works the same way.

Since Rhino 5.0, you’ve had the ability to enable/disable this feature. In the Rhino WIP, just click the Tools (hamburger) menu button menu and uncheck the Column Sort item.


Another feature in Rhino since version 1.0. Just click the Filter menu button and check the Empty Layers option.


Rhino already uses the disabled text color to indicate read-only layers from worksessions or linked blocks. That said, we did give RH-65747 some consideration, and will continue to consider how best to implement.


– Dale

1 Like

Hi @dale

If your standard of good design is the way “things have always been done” + the way “searching for files in Windows Explorer works” then there’s not much more to discuss here since you picked some very low and arbitrary standards.

Let’s my try again, one more time, to explain why what you have is not very useful with an example. compared to what would be more useful:

I just opened this file from a colleague, and I need to work on ‘hoses’. So I want to know where is/are all any hoses layer/s:

This is what I start with:

this is what searching ‘hose’ gives me:

This is what I think would be useful:

I nad no idea, that’s awesome! and also very nice that the default seems to be off now in V8. Thanks!

I know, and it’s not useful. See my answer to Andres here:

Good point. I’d take any other alternative, here’s another idea:
Light gray background for an empty layer that is needed to exist because it contains sub0layers/block definitions
Darker gray background for an empty layer that is fully empty, zero-sum.




Would a “Count” column be better than background fills for rows? Just throwing out another option.


Much better Steve, but you know you are starting a slippery slope of…

  • how many of each object types?
  • what are their names?
  • can I have an expandable object lister/outliner?

This is why we can’t have nice things :crazy_face:


I have also requested the Collection Feature of Blender in the past.
Rhino 8 Feature [Request] : Layer Tree similar to Blender’s Collection - Rhino - McNeel Forum

The Layer panel in Rhino is posing a significant constraint in my workflow; having an object in multiple collections greatly improves efficiency in my day to day tasks.

I don’t understand how this is more useful than isolating the layers with “hoses?” What if you have 300 layers and only 4 of which have “hoses?” Will you want to repeatedly scroll up and down to find the highlighted selection? And what happens when you want to highlight turn off ONE of those layers? Do the other highlights go away? Are you highlighting a different color? I’m genuinely curious, but perhaps I’m in the minority that believes the simpler solution (which is the current isolation method) is usually the best solution in terms of UX design.


Hi Marc, great points and questions. In my case, I want to use search as a ‘wayfinding’ to know where in my complete file’s layer stack the hoses are hanging out so I can go and look closer in that part of the stack.

Isolating the results does not help me to achieve that goal.


1 Like

makes sense. I’m often humbled by understanding other user’s workflows. cheers!

1 Like

Glad to see they added a search bar to help find layers faster ! I requested this long ago glad to see its finally implemented ! Great Job McNeel Team !

I know its been buried in dialog I think the search bar is much more intuitive.

Thanks for all these improvements!

A little paper cut here: it’s not possible to d&d a layer below the bottommost.

And a wish: when dragging and dropping a layer, the panel should auto-scroll when hovering over the top or bottom border of the panel.

That’s one of these silent revolutions! Blessings for fixing this!

A suggestion: why don’t you put “Global On” and “Model On” columns next to each other by default?
It happened more than once that people overlooked colums placed to the far right of the panel and thus are not visible.



1 Like

as posted as separate topic:
the context-menu / right mouse button should be shown in full size / all lines even if the panel is at the bottom of the screen.
other topic / @ mcneel - feel free to merge