Can't find switches in the footprint library browser

I need to assign a footprint to a 3PDT switch symbol, but when I look in the footprint library browser I do not see “switches” of any kind. I can’t believe there are not footprints for switches. Where are footprints for switches? Thanks for any advice.

There are some under “Button_Switch_xxxx”

Otherwise you could make a footprint.

Thanks jmk. I looked at “Button_Switch_xxxx” and there doesn’t seem to be any 3 pole double throw switches, so I’ll have to make a footprint. I’m a newbie so could you tell me how I get to the custom footprint window?

First: What version of Kicad are you using? You will find that in Help / About Kicad / Bottom of page.

Next: Have you made personal schematic and footprint libraries yet?
There are comprehensive instructions on how to make both types of libraries in FAQ at the top of this page.

I am using KiCad version 5.1.6-0. I had no idea about personal schematic libraries. I understand why one make a footprint library but I don’t understand what the need for a personal schematic library would be. A library within which I would place my schematics?

Not a library of schematics, but libraries of schematic symbols.
For example, microcontrollers only have the generic I/O names, but often have 2 or more alternate functions for peripherals. I’s common to copy such a generic uC symbol to a personal library, and then add names for peripherals such as I2C, SPI, Timers, etc that you use. Maybe also move the pins around so they fit better on your schematic.

If you have transistors you use often, then it’s easy to combine a generic transistor symbol, add the right footprint for you, and then put it in a personal library under the name of that particular transistor.
Some people use personal libraries for schematic symbols just because they do not like defaults. For example removing the circles from transistors.

Some people have very big “personal” libraries, especially if they work for big companies. Such companies typically have people who make those “database libraries” which typically have very detailed information of parts, such as size, tolerances, in-house part numbers, manufacturer name, ordering information and possibly more.


A library of schematics, is useful also, but it is a different subject, and is a part of what is called “design blocks”. Such a design block is a combination of a scheamtic of a sub-ciruit and can also have a PCB layout. For example a SMPS circuit for a power supply. The idea is that if you have designed a schematic and PCB layout for such an SMPS circuit, that you can easily re-use that section in another project.

At the moment KiCad has NO support for such design blocks (yet).

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Okay I understand having a library of schematic symbols. And a library of schematics could be useful as I continue with further projects. But my problem right now is making a footprint for a 3PDT switch to match the switches I have. I will have to read the tutorial on “How to make a footprint in KiCad 5.1.x” you linked in your previous reply. I have read through the manual that KiCad has online but it seems incomplete and confusing. Same thing with the getting started in KiCad pdf. Maybe it is intended for Windows users. I have a Mac, but that really shouldn’t matter. But I am disappointed in KiCad’s documentation. I understood what was discussed but there seems to be large swaths of instructions that are missing. But I’ll read through the tutorial and hopefully that will be enough to get further with this project. Thank you for your help!

Ah- I started reading the tutorial “How to make a footprint in KiCad 5.1.x”. Now that’s the kind of straight forward detail that I expect. I will be looking at many subjects in the FAQ. Many of my questions are addressed there, as one would expect. For some reason, when I saw FAQ, I thought it was just info about using the forum. Duh!

These manuals are pretty dated.
The developers do a great job of developing the programs but unfortunately the site is in need of authors to revamp instructions. It is a general open source program problem, I believe.

I also noted you are using Kicad 5.1.6. The current version is 5.1.10. You can update here:www.kicad.org

If I get the time I may sit down and try to write some new instructions. I for one would love instructions that just lay out the information like a textbook, rather than these annoying tutorials.

Do you happen to know what is different in Kicad 5.1.10 as compared to 5.1.6? With most programs I have become suspicious of updates, but maybe they are better with open source programs.

Many many bug fixes, no new features. KiCad does not do updates to make you buy support licenses or a new version

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Sounds good. Less bugs, no BS

Question about updating: I am running Mac OS 10.12.6. Is Kicad version 5.1.10 compatible with that? I looked at kicad.com/docs but did not see anything about OS compatibility.

Sorry, can’t help there. Linux user here.
Someone using Mac will probably reply soon.

Pretty sure there were no breaking changes within the 5.1.x series. Easiest way to find out is to download and update. You can copy your KiCad preferences and the old KiCad application directory to somewhere else first so you have a backup option. Most machines that were able to run Sierra can be upgraded to High Sierra (10.13) which definitely works.

I think @BlackCoffee uses 10.12 - might be able to confirm?

I know that @Tiberiu_Vicol has compiled 5.1 versions for older machines - he might have something suitable.

The forthcoming 6 (presently the 5.99 nightly builds) have needed at least macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and it looks like it will now need 10.15 + (Catalina) when released.

Yes. Using Sierra 10.12.6 and Kicad 5.1.10. Never a problem…

I agree that it is a general open source problem, or even an overall problem of the software industry.

However, I just started using KiCad and I found the workflow pretty smooth. It took me just a few hours to get my PCB out to the board house just using the Getting started guide. The guide was mostly complete and correct.

There were a few artifacts of the old netlist process but there is a blue box that says this process is legacy, so it was pretty easy to figure out which steps are obsolete.

So while of course any documentation can always be better, I have to say KiCad’s documentation is really pretty good.

Ah. Very good. Since I am running Sierra 10.12.6 it should be okay to update to Kicad 5.1.10.