New to KiCad looking for basic tutorial (Solved)

I have just installed KiCad on my Linux Mint 19.3 MATE version.
I am looking for a basic tutorial. I don’t plan to design a printed circuit board at this stage, I just want to draw a simple schematic of a discrete component development project.
First of all:
Am I in the correct place to ask this question?
Is KiCad a suitable application to draw such circuits (No PCB)?


Could this help?

What do you consider a:

If it’s something with resistors, transistors, connectors and such, then you’re in the right place.
If it’s for electrical cabinets with contactors, PLC’s or for wiring diagrams of machines with switches and such, then apparently there is better software, although it can still be done in KiCad, and I prefer to use KiCad for such project too because I have no interest in learning another software package for the few projects I have in that department.
The “Getting started in KiCad” in the help menu in Kicad itself is quite outdated, but I think the other items in the Help from the main menu are quite current.

On the KiCad website itself, there is a newer and updated version of the Getting started in KiCad. It’s a quite new document, only added in december last year. I still have the intention to proofread that document, but always get caught up in some *&^%$#@!.

Some people prefer to watch video’s, There are plenty of tutorial video’s on youtube, varying in content and quality. KiCad V6 (Released 2021-12-24) has changed a lot compared to KiCad V5, and if you are watching a tutorial made for V5 then keep in mind that some functions changed, and others have been added.

Because KiCad V6 is quite new, and exposed into the wild now a bunch of (mostly small) bugs are found, reported and fixed. So keep your KiCad current (Which is V6.0.4 at the moment). New releases are reported on the blog on KiCad’s website:

(Took some time to type this).

Thanks Paul. I will download that and read it.


It is sort of covered by @paulvdh but my response is “yes, absolutely. I have done that.”

One recommendation (though) is to complete your symbols by associating footprints. That may reduce confusion when you decide to do a pcb and need footprints.

And a second recommendation: The last time I looked, 2-sided pcbs from JLCPCB were really cheap. Probably cheaper than a suitable piece of the good perf board material. Cheap enough to lead me to say “Why not?” Shipping is likely to be much more expensive than the boards themselves. (NOTE: I am not being paid by anyone to say this…)

I have started to read the tutorial, but I am stuck at the beginning. The instructions to “Configure Global Symbols Library Table”, are no where to be found in my application. Or should I say, I have yet to find them.
I will attach screenshots to illustrate what I mean.

As per the description, it is a question that KiCad only asks you once, at the first time you start KiCad.
I assume you started KiCad yesterday, just after you installed it, and got that question then.

You probably either accepted the default, or choose one of the other options and clicked [OK]

Try this:

  1. Start KiCad.
  2. **File / New Project ** (Makeup a name + Save)
  3. Start the Schematic Editor.
  4. Press the a shortcut key (or Schematic Editor / Place / Add Symbol) from the main menu.

This should pop up the Symbol Chooser dialog, which looks like:

If you do see those libraries listed 4xxx, 4xxx_IEEE, etc. then your global library table is OK and you do not have to worry about it and can just continue with the getting started guide.

If no libraries are listed, then you probably made the wrong choice the first time you started the schematic editor. Because you are just starting, the easiest way to fix this is to:

  1. Exit KiCad.
  2. Simply delete the configuration directory.
  3. Restart KiCad.

If the configuration directory is missing, KiCad assumes it is the first time it is started and you get the question to create the symbol library setup again. Then make sure to accept the default, and KiCad creates a new clean configuration.

On my linux box, this directory is in my home folder under ~/.config/kicad. If you use some other OS, then you can just search for the sym-lib-table file itself in one of your user directories.
If you find multiple of these files:
Each project has such a file (the project specific variant) Do not delete those.

There are some other possibilities, such as for example a partial installation of KiCad, and in that case the libraries may not have been installed at all, but I don’t want to make it too complicated for now.

Thanks for the further information Paul.
I will follow your instructions.
Meanwhile, I have been doing some stabbing around and managed to find the library browser.
I have selected a transistor (for example purposes only), as shown in the screenshot, but don’t know how to move it to the new project page.
I may have gone too far ahead without knowing what I am doing?


You don’t have to “pre-add” all the symbols you will need to the project. Just open the schematic editor and add what you need as you go. You will get a symbol chooser for each addition.

That screenshot looks like it’s from KiCad V5.
Is that correct?
Seems very similar to that other thread:

I’ve got a symbol Library Browser, and it looks like:

To get a symbol from the symbol browser into the schematic, either double click on the symbol name, or
click on the Add symbol to Schematic button. (I encircled both options in Red.

I see your libraries are in /usr/share and that’s a Linux thing (Just as I have). However, after that your libraries are quite different, I have them in …/kicad/symbols/Transistor_BJT.kicad_sym While you have them in …/kicad/library/transistors.lib

------------ 8<--------------- 8<--------------- 8<--------------- 8<—
Totally unrelated:
I just noted there are two slashes shown in the title bar.
It’s not a real problem, but seems to be just visual. I can browse though symbols and load them into the schematic just fine. I am wondering now a bit whether I should report this on gitlab as a bug.

It’s quite common in KiCad to be able to do things in 3 to 5 different ways.
This lets people keep on using their “prefered” or “old” method long after other methods are added.

For example, a long time ago I quite liked CvPCB (Later renamed to Schematic Editor / Tools / Assign Footprints, But these days I use Schematic Editor / Tools / Edit Symbol Fields more often.
For simple parts which are repeated a lot such as resistors and capacitors, I usually assign a footprint to the first symbol I place in the schematic, and for all the others just make copies and then change the value.

Thanks for the reply.
My question is in fact, how to “add what you need as you go” (from your message).
I am trying to find out how to do just that.

I installed V.4.07 out of total ignorance. This is my very first venture with KiCad.
Apologies for that.
How do I update to the current version?
Remove and re-install?

Old version

In the schematic editor there is an Add symbol to schematic action, as you would expect.
But first remove v4 and install v6. Remove the v4 packages and then follow the docs for adding the Ubuntu repo for KiCad, then install v6 KiCad packages, including the libraries.

I will do that, thanks.

Some progress!
I have removed V4 and now have version 6.0 installed.
Also, I have the necessary libraries installed as per Paul’s post here:

I will now go back to the tutorial to find out how to move items, first the MosFet that I have on the screen.
Thanks for all the prompt assistance!


My next problem is in placing symbols on the drawing. I am able to select and place the first one ok. However, then when I go to select and place subsequent ones, they are superimposed over the first one.
I have yet to find out how to pre-select a position for the second and subsequent symbols before placing them.
Directions please?
(I have not yet found this in the tutorial - it is no doubt there somewhere!).

How do I delete surplus text and detail? (As in the screenshot).

I believe that the best thing for you is to watch a couple of videos to see how things are done.

I did a quick search and found these:

Great suggestion, thanks. I will download and watch them in the morning.

Meanwhile, I have had some success. I was able to compile the first LED circuit exercise described in the tutorial linked early in this thread.
I feel I am making progress now!

Installing KiCad V6 instead of V6 is indeed progress :nerd_face:

Your last screenshot is however from the symbol Editor. Look at the title:

That program is for creating and modifying schematic symbols.
For creating schematics, you want the Schematic editor, which is a different program in the KiCad EDA Suite.

So indeed, a few beginners tutorials seems what you need most. :slight_smile: