Do you like using Kicad on the Mac?


This post comes about as part of a discussion started on a Reddit thread and it was suggested that I come here and check if other Mac users are facing similar issues in using KiCad on the Mac. I personally find KiCad on the Mac very unusable and after several attempts (some out of desperation when my Windows machine crashed) I finally gave up and stuck to using KiCad on Windows. Even the most recent nightly was a letdown.

At the outset let me say that KiCad on Windows is exemplary and all the people who made this possible have my heartfelt thanks! I’ve been using it for more than 5 years and all my boards, prototype and production alike, are made with KiCad.

Since I’m so used to the Windows version now, I find several things that are missing in the Mac version (like the completely different main menus for pcbnew and lack of several setup features) and I wanted to know if I’m missing something in accessing these or they are just not there. I’m also very curious to know what others experience has been like using KiCad on the Mac. I’m generally more fond of my Mac since it just runs more smoother and longer on a battery than my windows machine and having a near alike version of KiCad on the Mac would really be having the cake and eating it too!


If you can post your version, people can easier help :slight_smile:
I believe there has been a lot of new Mac stuff on the V5 (not released) branch. Perhaps you should test it out.
If you are having crashes when using this, I would suggest you report it here:
So they can be fixed.


The Mac versions biggest problem is shortage of users who generate thorough bug reports.


I didn’t know that.

I’d be happy to help in any way I can.


The V4 Mac release is the least mature platform. V5 has had a lot of work on stability and usability on Mac.

Please register on Launchpad and take the time to read the existing Mac bug reports. If you can reliably trigger a new bug, please register the bug with sufficient information to allow the developers to trace it. Far too many reports are incomplete and get closed without a fix.


I’ve been using KiCad on mac only for the last 2.5 years for prototypes and actual products for a startup. I can’t say I had bugs or really big problems with it. Most of the time it’s lack of features that disappoints me. I can’t really make python scripts work reliably on the mac, as on linux for example. Also adding plugins is a pain – I managed to make them work only when I put them directly into the app bundle.
I used OrCad and Altium for 3 years before this and I miss things, but being a free SW it’s the best tool I can get now. And I love the plain text project files – with git and some scripts I can make different PCBs from the same schematics and have backups and versions for all the steps.
I am currently on Kicad 5.0.0-rc2-dev-440-g9203e39, macOS High Sierra on mac mini(late2012) with ssd and 16Gb of ram.


I found 4.0.7 to be somewhat of a challenge on the Mac, especially if trying to use a trackpad. Then again, it did get me involved. :slight_smile:

At present there are 1,495 bug fixes in 5.0. Outside of scripting, I’d like to say that the Mac version is more-or-less caught up with Win and Linux. But if it’s not, we’d love to hear about it…


I just looked in on the Reddit thread. Kicad’s menus in 5.0 (including RC2 and RC3) are pretty much identical between platforms. The only difference I’m aware of is that the Mac Preferences… item is under the Kicad menu, while the Windows and Linux versions have it under the Preferences menu.

The 5.0 menus did change a lot from 4.0.7, so if you compare RC2 Mac menus with 4.0.7 Windows menus then you will find many differences. Most of the board setup stuff the Reddit poster was looking for is under the Setup menu in 5.0 (on all platforms).


I was looking at this again and I had click on Icon Options (was it View or Setup, I’m not sure) and then the whole menu expands out to what is visible by default in the Windows version. For whatever reason it isn’t visible by default out of the box.


I’m very happy with it in general, works great! Most of the weaknesses right now seem to be generic, and around simulation, eeschema, and a few missing pcbnew features. For example, I’d love to be able to specify thermal relief as a net class property, then edit the exceptions (e.g. sense pads, hi Z inputs) rather than the rules. And, I’d LOVE to be able to nudge footprints and have the traces auto adjust; while I wouldn’t expect it to allow me to move a complex part across a board, it would be great to just shift it a little to pick up empty board space and shorten traces without having to manually update 24, 48, 80 or 144 traces… It can simply refuse to adjust any trace that won’t fit. This would make it much easier to do a “loose” layout and then “pack it” as an optimization later.


Pcbnew with OpenGL canvas is quite good on mac, but eeschema is a huge pain. Not sure if it’s a mac-specific issue though.

Scrolling is terribly laggy; annotating components is very annoying (popup dialog box before netlist export); inserting a component (say, resistor) in place of a wire requires to delete the wire and then redraw two wires; copying and moving parts of schematic is often harder than just to delete it and redraw from scratch, or to be more precise the selection of the right block and then reconnection of it is the most problematic.

Doing these operations in the LTSpice UI is way faster. If it had the support for hierarchical sheets and footprints I’d exclusively use it for capturing schematic :slight_smile:

Tried 5-nightly, one noticeable huge improvement is that sometimes capacitor/resistor values and references automagically move into proper places after component rotation, but otherwise almost no difference with latest 4. But still it’s awesome because it works on mac and free.


Thanks for taking the time to note your experiences.

All of the eeschema issues you list /should/ be addressed in v5. At least, I do not experience them on my MacBook anymore. If you do still see any of these issues, could you create a bug report for them with your KiCad version information and system details?


Ok, I’ll create my next project in V5 to give it a closer look, because on a first glance it of course had some improvements but overall impression was pretty much the same.


v4 was pretty rough at times. v5 is a huge improvement. I don’t have any issues that prevent me from doing my work. Upgrade to the nightly build and give it a go!


One thing to note is on my macbook pro (15" 2016 model) is eeschema is super sensitive when trying to zoom using the trackpad (cmd key plus two-finger scroll). So much so that it’s practically impossible. Panning using the two-finger scroll gestures is fine. In pcbnew the zoom works perfectly. I think they actually work exactly the same, only pcbnew has much finer zoom gradation so it just works out right, while the coarser zoom gradation in eeschema makes it difficult to use. It’s right when using the scroll wheel on a mouse though, so maybe when set to trackpad use in the preferences it could scale down the zoom stepping a bit…

(Still in v5 stable, kicad-unified-20180714-002430-399ec7d.dmg)


I’m running OSX 10.11.6 on a 2011 macbook pro and have really liked KiCAD. Definitely have to use an external mouse to have everything work well but it’s the same with any CAD program I’ve used including Soldiworks. Overall I’m happy with it and so far all the mistakes I’ve made have been my own fault. I’d like it if the footpritn library was easily searchable but I really like that the PC version looks the same and has all the same menus as the mac version. This makes it very easy to watch tutorials and always go what to do.


I am running KiCAD 4.07 on a 2012 rMBP and 2011 iMac and running a V5 nightly on the iMac as well. I use both trackpad and mouse. Have created several released boards ranging from small stuff (50-150 components) to a pretty dense multi-layer board with 600 components (or so). I have used OrCAD and Ultiboard in the past (distant past :slight_smile:

I did struggle with the mouse/trackpad integration at some time but messed around with the settings until it worked for me. There is no lag or any other funny business that would prevent me to use KiCAD. With 4.07 I did find that Pcbnew’s color scheme is terrible and distracting (great this is now customizable in V5) and of course component management was/is ridiculously complicated but this applies to other OSes just the same. But I should note that component management is something that one should give dedicated attention to - KiCAD, OrCAD or any other software package.

I did not want to get into an expensive CAD software because I think that most of these eeCAD packages are developed by software guys who have no affinity with hardware design, don’t care much about workflow or - dare I say it - beautiful looking software. (just my opinion guys, just opinion). So why spend the dollars if KiCAD is free? After gotten used to its quirks I am flabbergasted and extremely pleased how well it works. For open source, developed in a distributed environment - it is fantastic. I’d say it could survive well as a commercial package too. On the Mac it works great - I use commercial software on the mac that does not behave as well as KiCAD.

I’d say; if you need eeCAD software and you have a Mac and you dont want to spend much/any money, stop listening to folks on Reddit and install it and try it out for a few weeks on a real project. I think you will end up liking KiCAD and get a very caring, helpful and responsive community on top.

just my 2ct