Managing libraries (symbols & footprints) including private libraries

Is there any concise document describing library management (sym&footprint) when moving from version 7 to 8?
In particular, I mean the following use case:
After installing 8 (having 7 already on my machine), I want to use the latest libraries coming with 8 and also have access in 8 to EDIT my own symbols and footprints created in 7.

additional related questions:

  • why when you first run 8 the default option is “copy global symbol table”? (from 7?)
  • When selecting Preferences->Manage Symbol Libraries, all library Paths refer to KICAD7_SYMBOL_DIR. Why not KICAD8_SYMBOL_DIR? (I understand because of selecting default option above) But then, what version are the libraries from?
  • Why does double-clicking a custom symbol and trying to edit it, shows a blank window in the symbol editor? And how to transfer them to 8.
    I’m using Ubuntu (in case the answers refer to file paths).

I just fooled KiCad into thinking it was being run for the first time by renaming ~/.config/kicad/8.0 to ~/.config/kicad/2024-06-02_8.0 and then starting KiCad.

KiCad first asks me:
(Which I accepted), and then the second question, I disabled updates, as I like to do updates, when I’m doing updates :slight_smile:

Then create a new project (or attempt to open an existing one), and KiCad discoveres it does not have global library tables yet, so it asks me what to do:


With this combination, KiCad uses the ${KICAD8_SYMBOL_DIR} environment variable:

Note that by renaming the configuration directory (top of my post here) instead of deleting it, creates a backup of the configuration directory, and you can use a program like meldmerge to review changes in the configuration directory and copy changes from one configuration to another.

There is information about KiCad’s file formats on Getting Started | Developer Documentation | KiCad but I am not aware of a specific migration manual. If you have many personal libraries, then using meldmerge is convenient, and for the rest, the file formats are easy enough to figure out details when you work with them. There is not much to migrate in the first place. There are no big file format changes or other parts that can break. It’s mostly just open a project in V8 instead of V7 and continue working with it. Adding personal libraries is probably the only big change you will have to make, the rest is mostly personal preferences such as color themes, Mouse zoom & warp, units, etc.

Hi @rufsiany_sr

Just a few more comments not covered by Paul.

No. These are the Kicad 8 Libraries that came with the Kicad 8 download.
EDIT: At least they should be the Kicad 8 Libraries. After checking your below questions, maybe the wrong libraries have been shipped in the Ubuntu package.
The second option allows you to install personal libraries from a previous Kicad BUT NOT the Kicad libraries.
The third option installs no libraries.

If you want both the current Kicad libraries PLUS your personal libraries, choose the “recommended” then add your own libraries manually when you have opened Kicad.
If you have many libraries, follow Paul’s suggestion for bulk loading personal libraries.
If there are not too many, load them individually.
Click on the + icon at the bottom of the library manager to add a row.
Click in the empty library path rectangle which will then show a folder icon.
Click on the folder icon and navigate to a personal library.
Double click on the Personal Library name and the library together with the full path should load into the Symbol Libraries Manager. Personal Footprint libraries work the same way.
It is worth reading towards the bottom of the FAQ for organizing your Nicknames, to place your Personal Libraries where you wish, in relation to the Kicad supplied Libraries.

Explanations for the Symbol/Footprint Editors can be found in this FAQ.

So they do. I cannot explain why and I had not noticed before reading your comment :frowning_face:. Someone else may respond. It may be a packaging problem. I use Mint which I believe is the same as Ubuntu and mine also shows as KICAD7_SYMBOL_DIR.

Because the library has yet to be loaded in Kicad 8. See above for loading personal libraries.
Please ask if you have more questions.

Thank you for the explanations. Together with the next replay it helped me to finally set up everything.

Thank you. It really helped (with the prevoius answer from Paul).
As for the KICAD7_SYMBOL_DIR still embedded into the path, I saw a note in, that
“KiCad will automatically resolve versioned path variables from older versions of KiCad to the value of the corresponding variable from the current KiCad version, as long as the old variable is not explicitly defined itself. For example, ${KICAD7_FOOTPRINT_DIR} will automatically resolve to the value of ${KICAD8_FOOTPRINT_DIR} if there is no KICAD7_FOOTPRINT_DIR variable defined.”
(This example refers to footprints, but the same refers to symbols)
In my case (running 8) KICAD7_SYMBOL_DIR is not defined, hence it resolves to KICAD8_SYMBOL_DIR. Mistery solved! Thanks again.

I started to use KiCad when it was 4.0.7. I prefer to have full control of everything so my first task was to make my own libraries containing all symbols and footprints I use. Whenever I want to use new footprint I copy it from KiCad libraries to my libraries and modify according to my needs.
So I have in configuration only my own libraries and when changing KiCad version V4 → V5 → V6 → V7 → V8 I don’t have to change anything in my library lists.