Inkscape Default Document Properties and Canvas Size Tutorial

When Inkscape starts it checks to see if there's a file called default.svg in ~/.config/inkscape/templates/ and if there is this is what is loaded -- the default template if you will. Whatever Document Properties are set in that default file will be what a new Inkscape session starts with. This only applies to the Document Properties and not the options set in Preferences.

I'm using Inkscape 0.92 on a Mac while writing this guide. You can check which version of Inkscape you are using by going to Help --> About Inkscape. I imagine on Linux things would be very similar, and I might try all of this out on a Linux machine soon. I'm not so sure about a Windows machine and I don't have one of those right now to find out.

Quickly access document properties with control + shift + D -- think D for Document. The control + shift combo is reused a lot throughout Inkscape to bring up various dialogs, for example control + shift + P for preferences -- P for preferences.

So my default default document is A4 210 x 297 mm. Scale is set to 1, and we've got show page border, show border shadow, and use antialiasing checked.

There are two places where options are set. There's the document properties, which are the properties that are saved with that document -- when saved as an Inkscape SVG. Then there's preferences, which are saved in Inkscape itself, maybe in ~/.config/inkscape/preferences.xml, but I'm still kind of unclear on how to set these defaults.

Press control + shift + D, set units, say pixels, then the canvas size, setup a default grid and whatever else, set scale to 1. Press control + shift + S to Save As. Now, here's where the magic happens. The name field, where it just says drawing.svg, type in the path to Inkscape's templates there. This is the correct path on my Mac and is probably the same on Linux but I'm not sure about Windows.


~ is the home directory, .config is the hidden directory where Inkscape stores configuration files and what have you -- the dot means the file is hidden -- then inkscape/templates, and default.svg is the name of the actual file that is loaded by default when Inkscape starts, complete with all of the document properties we just set.

Oh, also, make sure when saving this file that the file type is set to Inkscape SVG and not something else. If you've already saved the file as, say, a Plain SVG -- I did that -- that's ok, just do control + shift + S again and select Inkscape SVG, and enter the path and file name same as before.

Alternatively, you can just type ~/.config into the name field and hit enter or click save to bring up the config directory. Then double click inkscape, double click templates, type default.svg for the name, make sure file type is set to Inkscape SVG. If the file already exists, a confirmation will pop up with something along the lines of this file already exists are you sure you want to replace it. Be careful overwriting files.