KICAD PDF Copy is not searchable

After creating a schematics page, when printing to PDF, the PDF file is not text-searchable, can someone advice how to create smart PDF so we can search for component value or ref. designator. I’m using version 5.1.2


Up to v5.1 schematics use graphics instead of normal fonts for text. This may change for v6 and I think searchable text would be possible then. You could file a bug report to make sure the developers will be aware of the wish.

If you need a searchable PDF file, you should utilize “Plot” instead of print. We have limited control over the system print operations.


If the PDF encodes the text as a text string rather than as a graphic, different combinations of OS, installed fonts and PDF renderer will give varying results - bad for production. This is why only only print should use text strings

See above, the plot.PDF choice creates a PDF with stroke font visible, and another ‘plot white’ font overlaid.
You can Search and Copy on that invisible text.
( This is a common technique for CAD programs to get searchable PDFs, but still use their native stroke fonts.)


Nice, I didn’t know that. Or maybe knew but didn’t remember.

First time that I have heard of this, but a clever trick. The only (small) penalty is file size

Thank you all , plot option worked well

I know it’s a bit off-topic, but do you have any ways to get searchable Assembly diagrams?
For Assembly diagram, I do want to have number of layers stacked, e.g. outline, shaded copper tracks to facilitate looking at real PCB, components courtyards, drawings and of course footprint references.
I usually export gerbers and then stack them in GERBV and print to PDF, but obviously in this workflow the “searchable text” is getting lost.
So maybe there’s a better option?

I think KiCad scores an ‘almost’ there, unless a later release improves things.
All the pieces are there but not all in 1 place…
You can use Plot.PDF, and that gives “searchable text” - but only one file per layer.
You can use print.SinglePage.PDF_Printer, to merge multiple pages into one page out, but that PDF drops the “searchable text”.

Seems KiCad needs to either
a) Add “searchable text” choice to print.OnePage.PDF_Printer,
b) Add SinglePage option to Plot.PDF
or both :slight_smile:

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Common, perhaps, but incorrect. This is what the /Alt property is for.

We should probably fix this…

Jeff (one of the PDF architects in a former life).


I think we originally went with the invisible text because you can select and copy it in place as if you were selecting the graphical text. Many of the viewers on Linux (not sure about Adobe) also don’t search the /Alt text for finding things.

The biggest risk of not using /Alt is for sight-impaired users (screen readers are less likely to gracefully handle the white text). But I imagine we’ve got a lot of other faults for these users too.

I guess this is the “por que no los dos” situation, we can do both /Alt and invisible text overlay.

I know this is not exactly what you asked for but it may accomplish your goal: my plugin creates searchable bom with pcb drawings. It doesn’t draw courtyards but does render fab and silk layers and you can search for component fields/references.


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