Behaviour changes of shortcut for placing wires in KiCAD 6

Sorry if it’s an already-answered question. I have searched on Google about the shortcut behaviour change but found little result. I also skimmed through the release notes without finding a mention of the change in interest.

In KiCAD 5 Eeschema, a wire can be started anywhere under the cursor with w. More nodes can be placed with consecutive w presses and the wire would be automatically finished when pressing w with a free pin under the cursor. But after upgrading to KiCAD 6, when w was pressed a second time, a popup banner saying “Press <ESC> to cancel drawing” was shown and no node was placed. Instead, a left mouse button click is required to place wires.

It seems that the hotkey for wire placement has changed but I failed to find a way to change back the behaviour. Is there a configuration that I could tweak to get the old behaviour back or it is not currently possible and some source-level changes have to be made?

Go to Preferences > Preferences > Hotkeys and you’ll see that K is the key to finish the wire or bus.

Thanks for your reply. However, I noticed that when k is pressed, it immediately finishes the placement. In KiCAD 5, pressing w when placing a line is equivalent to clicking the left mouse button, which only fixes the placement of the last segment or finishes the whole line placement if the cursor is on a free pin.

I have looked around in the hotkey settings but didn’t find a setting that is directly related to this behaviour.

The behaviour changed because w doesn’t just start a wire, it goes into wire mode as you can see in the change of cursor shape and the highlighted wire icon at the right hand side. Thus to draw several wires you only need to go into wire mode then use the left mouse button repeatedly. I actually find this way of working smoother than the v5 way.

Things change.
It’s called progress.

Your main gripe is apparently that you have to press the Left mouse button to fix an intermediate point.
What is the nature of your problems in doing so?

I understand that the first reaction is some annoyance. Every time I try to copy a schematic symbol with c, the schematic editor barks at me with some “no bus selected”, because the c key has been remapped to some bus foldout function.

Even if KiCad can be forced to behave the same as some older version did, I doubt if you should do so. If you adapt to the changes in KiCad, then your habits will change and you get used to the new method.
If you try to hang on to the “old method”, then you end up in a situation where you can’t work with the newest KiCad version, unless you first change a lot of shortcuts to what they were in some previous KiCad version, and this process will repeat itself with every KiCad version update.

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Thanks for your time. It’s a pity that there is no easy way to get the old behaviour back. I’m planning to write a script or something to re-interpret keyboard inputs to appropriate commands for KiCAD. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.

It is true that we can’t and shouldn’t stick to the past. I won’t really mind if it’s just a key-binding change since there is always the option to change back to the key-binding we are familiar with – even if that means we have to do it every time the software gets upgraded.

It’s a breaking change for me, personally, for accessibility reasons. What used to be doable with a keypress now requires a mouse click on a different hand. Maybe just a minor inconvenience for most, I agree.

I’ll try to find a way to adapt to these changes. Thanks for your reply.

Have you ever tried to experiment with options such as a programmable macro keyboard?
There are plenty of commercial offerings, but there are also lots of open source projects. In essence it’s not much more then a microcontroller, some buttons and a bit of firmware.
Here is a simple example:

“GH60” (and many variants) are open source projects intended as “normal PC keyboards” but can be adopted to send custom key codes.

Heck, the simplest way would be to just plug two mice into your PC. You can use one mice for movement, and the other for clicking the buttons.

I did look up for macro keyboard (albeit quite a few years ago) and it was way out of the budget. Maybe they are much more affordable by now. I’ll certainly take a look. Thanks for your suggestions.

Meanwhile, I’m planning to write a program to intercept keyboard inputs and remap them to corresponding outputs. I’ll try to make it portable. It may have other uses, not just limited to remapping w to mouse clicks. I’ll post an update once it’s finished.

Thanks again for everyone’s support.

You could do it all one handed if you wish, with the mouse hand. Click on the wire icon in the right colum, this is the same as typing w. Then use the mouse to place any number of wires. Finally exit wire mode by clicking on the pointer icon in the right hand column.

I fail to see how the v6 interface is worse than the v5 one. There you used one hand on the keyboard to type w and one hand on the mouse to draw the wire.

I actually have trouble clicking the mouse. I can still move the cursor around with relative ease, but clicking an item would require a bit more effort.

(You can emulate this problem by holding a fist with your mouse-moving hand and then try to use your computer. You’ll find it’s still relatively easy to move your cursor, but when you want to click for something, you’ll have to reach for it and press your fist or wrist against the mouse buttons. It’s still acceptable for daily file navigations or web surfing. But speaking of wiring up a microcontroller, it’s not going to be a thing that you would want to do.)

It’s a feasible solution to just use the mouse only with the functioning hand but it’s hard to break out of an old habit. Maybe I should give it a try, though.

I didn’t mean that v6 is worse than v5 – v6 does have a lot of improvements compared to v5 and it’s the driving force for me upgrading to v6 in the first place. It’s kind of like XKCD: Workflow that every update – even for the better, may disrupt someone’s habit of working provided with a large enough user base. (and I happen to be the one complaining about it :P) It’s just a lack of notice that confused me for a little bit.

If my posts look a bit strange or jaded I do apologize for that. English is not my first language so the wording might sound off to you.

Once again, many thanks for your support.

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Maybe you need a macro pad that allows you to do a “mouse click” with a special button. Or a touch pad.

There really are hundredths of projects for HID devices (= Human Interface Device Devices) in the open source world, and as I already wrote, it can be just a generic microcontroller (with USB) soldered on a piece of matrix board.

Or get creative. Get an extra mouse from somewhere, take out the PCB and wire in some foot pedals, bite switches, fart detectors or whatever sort of sensor you feel is appropriate to the switches.

Here is a project that uses face recognition for computer input.

There is already a keyboard shortcut for click; it defaults to return. Same for double-click, which defaults to end.

So to make a multi-segment wire, w, return, return, … end.


I find having to click with your mouse very annoying! Having the same key press do all the work for you is much more fluid and all the suggestions you’ve mentioned require moving your mouse hand to either k or enter. I have made an account just to gripe about this, it’s very frustrating when a feature which was better in v5 is removed.

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