MacOS unable to view pcb

Me: New user, just learning
My computer : MacOs 10.15.07 ( Catalina )
Kicad: 5.1.18-10_14

Followed a couple tutorials and was able to complete a schematic, associate footprints and generate a netlist. Ran DRC, all good.

So I click the icon ( pcbnew ) and do not see any pcb. Repeated process, followed docs and tutorials. About to uninstall and reload – I did have issues getting libs and footprints setup but got past that.

Any ideas before I give up???


Did you import the netlist and saw no clutch of footprints, ready to be placed where you want them?

I selected the ‘Load Netlist’ icon and see lines like

Adding new symbol C3 footprint Capacitor_THT:CP_Axial_L10.0mm_D4.5mm_P15.00mm_Horizontal.
Adding new symbol SW3 footprint Button_Switch_SMD:Panasonic_EVQPUM_EVQPUD.
Adding new symbol C2 footprint Capacitor_THT:CP_Axial_L10.0mm_D4.5mm_P15.00mm_Horizontal.
Adding new symbol U1 footprint Package_TO_SOT_SMD:SOT-23.
Adding new symbol C1 footprint Capacitor_THT:CP_Axial_L10.0mm_D4.5mm_P15.00mm_Horizontal.
Adding new symbol U2 footprint ESP32-footprints-Lib:ESP-32S.

OK but what do you see?
No PCBNew window, window with empty space, anything?
What do you see if you start PCB itself not within schematic? Do you see your drawing layout?
Mac users reported some display glitches on certain configurations. Try switching graphics mode (F11/F12 keys)

I think I see the missing step.

Just starting Pcbnew does not do anything else but start Pcbnew.

Loading a netlist separately is (mostly) deprecated. This method is kept mainly as an “extra” interface for external programs and scripting.

Since KiCad V5 (about 3 years), the main interface between the schematic and the PCB is to use Eeschema / Tools / Update PCB from Schematic [F8], and then go through the dialog. After this, Pcbnew opens and all the footprints are shown next to each other.
From there on you can move the footprints to their final location and start laying tracks between them.

Also: Do not forget to draw the PCB outline on the Edge.Cuts layer. The graphics on this layer will determine the size of the final PCB.

Are there any errors at the end of that? What happens after you click the “Update PCB” button?

Hi -
I created a new simple circuit with 2 parts.

  • Created schematic ( battery + led )
  • Assigned footprints ( all good!)
  • Ran ERC ( no errors )
  • Update PCB from schematic, pcbnew opens
    – a dialog with ‘Update PCB from Schematic’ with 3 areas:
    1. Match Method - selected Keep existing symbol to footprint associations
      -or- re-associate footprints by reference
  1. Options: update footprint (selected ) , delete extra footprints, delete single-pad nets
  2. Changes to be applied:
    mentions the 2 parts and
    Total warnings: 0 errors: 0
    Netlist update successful

and a buttons : save, close, update PCB

I select update and close.

I see pcbnew and my test.kicad_pcb file name in banner. The canvas is just gray.

Also - looked into F11/F12 but on my mac these do other activities. But did try a few different display settings with no luck.


If your canvas is grey, you need to switch to “Modern Toolset (accelerated)” in the tools menu (I think it is the tools menu).

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imcinerney – SOLVED ! thats its! I see the pcb!!! Whoo hoo! Thanks to everyone, even the basic step walkthrough helped me understand the flow and ultimately it was the ‘toolset’ setting.

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