How to spin component reference text on a board?

New to KiCad. Proficient in Eagle.

In KiCad, it appears that text on the PCB is intended to be read from the bottom, or the from the right. When making a schematic, in KiCad, if you want to change this orientation, you use the mirror function. However, using the mirror function, on the board, moves the component from the top layer to the back layer. The same is true of Eagle.

I want to be able to read my component reference text from the left. In Eagle, to accomplish the correction of the orientation of the text on the board, you use the “spin” function. Is there an equivalent “spin” function in Kicad? What is its name and where can I find it?

Searching, reading the manual, etc. has not provided the answer… But, I do not know the proper KiCad term, so I may have missed it. It is not “rotate”, nor “mirror.”

Thank you.

The term in KiCad for changing layer to the bottom is “flip”.
To me spin means rotate

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In Pcbnew only free text can be mirrored (via its properties):

Footprints references are special fields that can’t be mirrored by hand. They will be auto mirrorred when footprint is flipped from one PCB side to another. This way references are always readable on real board.

Davidsrsb, you are correct, “flip,” not “mirror.”

Keruseykaryu, it is regrettable that footprint references can not be mirrored by hand. This explains why I could not find such instructions.

Thank you, both, so much, for you help.

I recall achieving what you’re trying to do. I think I only did it once, and it was quite a while back so the capability may not be available any more.

All of the KiCAD-created files are saved as “human-readable” ASCII text. Open your *.kicad_pcb file in a good text editor (I use “Notepad++”). Find the lines that describe the references you want to spin (rotate, revolve, turn, re-orient, etc). They will look something like:

     _(fp_text reference D6 (at -3.2512 -2.1336 90) (layer F.SilkS)_ 

The three numeric values represent an {X, Y} location and an angle. (Angles of “0” may be omitted.) Try angle values of -90, or 270, or 180. Whatever effects you achieve may be lost if you subsequently change the orientation from within PCBNew; but experiment and see what happens. Then (if it’s a rainy Friday afternoon with nothing happening in the lab), try -30 or 126 or 245. If you get favorable results you might investigate whether it’s possible to get similar results by editing these lines in the original footprint file.


Placing text on the B side is automatically mirrored
You can turn this off eg for printing to a windowed layer stack where you are viewing the text through the board from the front

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KiCad does not have the direct equivalent of Eagle’s “Spin” property. Although the GUI limits the text direction to Horizontal or Vertical, KiCad will display text in any direction if it is in the kicad_pcb file. Therefore you could edit the kicad_pcb as Dale suggests.

Standalone text items can be set to any direction via the GUI.

Note that Eagle’s “Spin” is nothing to do with “flip” or “mirror”.


By the way @t1d, if you type an “@” character, the usernames in the thread are listed and can be selected

@dchisholm, thanks for the possible technique. I must admit, it is outside of my skill set. I will ask my brother, our family’s computer guy, to walk me through it. There is hope, yet.

While you do that, let him install a program called Notepad Plus Plus, it’s Windows Notepad on steroids with lots of features.


Or try atom (even more features.)


And without the original Notepads bad habit of changing line endings

Thanks for the " -Pad" tips!

Great minds think alike.


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