Is it possible to have two schematic sheets open at the same time?

Now that I have a 3 monitor setup, this would be really handy if I could have two schematic sheets open at the same time.

You can open two instances of KiCad at the same time.

Some time ago KiCad would not open the same project twice at the same time.
Last time I tried though, KiCad-nightly V5.99 did let me open two instances and both with the same project. It did add an extra warning that if you save changes you made from those two versions it may have “strange” consequences.

There is nothing from preventing you from just trying.

Alternatively, you can always create a .pdf version of the schematic and use that as an extra reference. When I’m working on a more involved project I also like to make intermediate printouts of the schematic. Both as reference, to make some temporary notes and to keep my monitors free.

Try with a copy of a project.

As far as I know KiCad doesn’t monitor files in any way and doesn’t even have a manual Reload feature. There are no safety nets. If you have schematic files from the same project open at the same time and save in one, it saves all sheets and overwrites the changes made in the other instance. The only way to see the changes in the other instance is to close and reopen the eeschema window. So, I would say no, it’s not possible in any practical way.

For what it’s worth, there have been discussions about redesigning the KiCad main UI to allow a more modern paradigm with tabbed views or something like that and probably several views at the same time. But there’s nothing concrete yet.

Never thought to try that – appears to work here (5.99). I agree that is a bit risky, so will probably just go with the PDF approach for now.

Yes, that would work – especially with projects in Git – easy to create another workspace.

Thanks for the ideas!

This would be handy when “refactoring” a schematic and copying/moving stuff around.

In KiCad V5.1.12 you can open two instances of a project with KiCad, but not two instances of a schematic file. If you try it you get:


In KiCad-nightly V5.99 the current response is:

but it does open the schematic the 2nd time.
I’m not happy about this myself. It’s just too easy to make mistakes this way. Opening the 2nd instance in “read-only” mode would be a lot safer and still let you have multiple views.

Using the .PDF method is more sane and prevents making mistakes.

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The KiCad editor could adopt prior art from text editors like vim which allow opening more instances in read-only mode. It would also be useful for browsing completed projects without risk of changing anything.

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I have had one schematic open in EESchema in standalone mode (for reference) on my second monitor while working on another schematic in project mode on my main monitor.

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I think that the most useful reason for doing this may be to copy pieces of Project A to Project B, and then maybe Project C to Project B. I am mainly focused on the schematic but pcb layout also. So this is not just viewing but also proper memory access. Is there any chance of this now or in the near future?

This is a different angle on retiredfeline’s post:

The great joke falls flat because working between different projects is a completely different use case than working within two instances of one project, let alone one file.


Well OK. Nobody ever paid me as a comedian, and my jokes can be warped as in seeking a twisted 1206 chip capacitor to solder to a warped pcb.

Seriously however: WRT looking at one schematic (or one part of a schematic) while working on another, I have also resorted to viewing a .pdf as I work on a schematic. That works reasonably well if not 100% ideal. But it seems to me that re-using portions of a design is something which comes up often. This ought to be a basic advantage of CAD over pencil and paper design (maybe with “scissor drafting.”) I can re-use part of one schematic by simply using it as my starting point. But do we have some way to re-use both part of “A” and part of “C” in new project “B”?

I thought about trying a text editor, but that end of the pool is probably much too deep for my swimming capability. It might be fun to try it so long as I am working with disposable file copies.

A few months ago I had an invisible symbol in my schematic. It had some ridiculous location. I could not see it in Escheema but I was able to find and eliminate it using a text editor. I suspect that my idea to re-use design portions in that way might be much more difficult.

You can open multiple instances of KiCad at the same time, and as long as you open different projects in them, there are no conflicts or confusion.

Huh! Why was I thinking that does not work? I was able to copy-paste between the two.

In KiCad V5.1.x Copy & Paste only works within the same instance of KiCad.

In KiCad-nighly V5.99 Copy & Paste uses the normal clipboard functions and it works between different KiCad instances. The Clipboard is used as text, and you can even copy from KiCad, and then paste in a text editor. In theory you can modify the text in a text editor (or some script?) and then Copy & paste it back into KiCad-nightly V5.99, but I have not tried this.

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Thank you. That seems like a particularly useful tip and is probably more helpful than the 5.99 highlighting of a selected schematic portion. The idea of being able to copy from KiCad - to - text - to KiCad sounds like it ought to be useful but I am not yet sure why that would be the case.

I have. (And yes, it does work.)

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In 5.1.10 I just run eeschema.exe standalone (from KiCad\bin directory and not from KiCad application) and I can open schematic A and copy selected block, open schematic B, paste block and save it then open schematic C to copy a block from there and paste it into B.
Not sure, but probably in 4.0.7 it also worked that way.

Are you sure you are not mixing up KiCad versions?
In KiCad V5.1.x I can only copy & Paste between sheets in the same project.

Copy & Paste between different KiCad instances only works for me in KiCad-nightly V5.99

So either one of us is mixing up something or there is a regression of a bug in the Copy & Paste in KiCad V5.1.12.

I’m sure.
A moment ago I have just installed 5.1.12 (Windows) and tried if it works. It works.
In my projects I have always schematic at one sheet. So when I open one schematic and then other they certainly belong to different projects.
The key is to run eeschema.exe not from KiCad but directly as standalone application (double click at eeschema.exe in KiCad\bin directory).
And it is not something I have invented. I sow instruction to do it that way here at forum (may be few years ago).
And I was not writing about several instances but about one instance of eeschema.exe.

This sounds like useful information. But my key takeaway is that 5.99 in Win10 allows copy paste in a manner more like other Windows software, with the caveat that you need to run two projects and two instances of KiCad at the same time.

I will have to try that and see if I can crash the software. :slight_smile: