Importing Altium PcbLib files

This has been covered in various other posts, but I’ve tried to patch together all the bits of info into one clear recipe. (If nothing else, it will help me remember three months from now when I need to do this again, but I hope this is helpful to the general community.)

To import a .PcbLib from Altium:

  1. Download and run a KiCAD “nightly” build. As of this writing, it’s KiCAD v6.99.
  2. Create or open a project. Click on PCB Editor or Footprint Editor (both work).
  3. Click on Preferences => Manage Footprint Libraries
  4. In the Footprint Libraries window, click on the “+” sign (“Add empty row to table”)
  5. In the Nickname column of the new row, type your nickname for the imported library.
  6. In the Library Format column of the new row, select “Altium Designer”
  7. (Here’s the tricky part): In the Library Path column of the new row, MANUALLY TYPE THE NAME OF THE .PcbLib file. (You have to do this because the GUI is expecting a directory name, but it’s a file). In my case, I typed ${KIPRJMOD}/../AltiumLib/AltiumLib.PcbLib
  8. (Optional): In the Description column of the new row, add a description for the newly added library.
  9. Click [OK]

At this point, you should be able to place components from the newly added library in the PCB Editor like any other component.

Caveat: I’ve seen forum notes that suggest there are still some bugs in the Altium library importer. If you encounter an error, consider filing a bug report with the offending .PcbLib file attached.

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