PCB Editor Layer Switching

Hi, recent switcher over from using EAGLE, I should of moved over years ago KiCad is far better!
One thing I am finding a bit clumsy is switching between layer visibility while laying out a PCB. In EAGLE I had a bunch of hotkeys setup that allowed me to very quickly switch between which layers are visible:

Alt+s - reset, set all layers invisible apart from edge cuts.
Alt+z - adds top layers (copper, silk, courtyards)
Alt+x - adds In1 copper
Alt+c - adds In2 copper
Alt+v - adds bottom layers (copper, silk, courtyards)

So, I could press, alt+s, then z, then x and the Top and In1 layers are displayed.

Is there a way to setup something similar with KiCad?
Or can anyone describe thier own workflow for quickly switching layer visibility?

You could try the layer presets . . .


I did see the presets but im not conviced they work in the way I’d like: with 4 layers I need to preset multiple combinations of layers? (top-1, top-1-2, top-bottom, top only, bottom only, 1-2, 2-bottom etc), if I use more copper layers this get out of hand pretty quick, or if I want to toggle any other layers for mechanical/user/drawings.

Can the presets be added to one another? I preset the top layers, then add the in1 preset?

What does “adds a layer” mean in your world?

Does it set a layer as the current layer? Does it modify the board setup to include more layers on the PCB, or something else?

In KiCad you can change hotkey assignment in: PCB Editor / Preferences / Preferences / Hotkeys and there are a lot of options which do not have a hotkey assigned by default. It also has a search function. Here I searched / filtered for “layer”:

The PCB editor also supports Python scripting. I have not used this myself, but I guess you can attach little scripts to hotkeys that do something with layer visibility or set the active layer.

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Just had a bit of a play, not used the presets before . . . you can turn on an off any layers you want and then save that as your own custom preset, not sure if there is a limit on how many you can have, I just spent 2 mins and created one with all the back layer stuff off and another with all the front layer stuff off.

Can the presets be added to one another? I preset the top layers, then add the in1 preset?

The layer presets are comparable with the eagle layer alias definitions.
They are not a replacement for the eagle “display” command to selectively add/remove layers to the current visibility. This command-line flexibility is not available.

But you may look into the 3 display modes: standard - dim - hide.
Especially the dim-mode can be useful for pcb layout.

This is what I was trying to get at, thanks for linking it back to EAGLE.
I think that possibly a combination of @paulvdh suggestion with hotkeys to set the active layer along with the dim display mode might do the trick.

Do selecting active layer in right panel is so inconvenient that it is worth replacing them with hot keys?

If I can do it mindlessly with my left hand while routing with the right, absolutely.

It is possible I’m not using the most efficient technique while routing, but this is what I’m doing, and why selecting layers with the mouse is an issue:

I press x to start routining, v to drop a via - the problem with selecting the copper layer I want to via too is I have to move the mouse over the PCB dragging the trace with me as I go, to select the copper layer, to then go back to position. If I can switch layers with my left hand, the mouse never moves.

It would be great if layers could be grouped so that the layers not in that group are dim, or if some layers could be set to never dim - like edge cuts for example.

OK. I think I understand.

My problem with understanding the situation is that I have never used v to drop via. My PCBs are mainly 2 layers with 100% bottom being GND so no vias during routing. If they are 4 layers I need extra layer only for VCC connections so still no vias at signal tracks.
I thought that somewhere in configuration there is current layer pair used for routing so via knows to what layer to drop but never looked for it and don’t have KiCad here to check it now.

Hi, the technique is:

X > draw > hover > V > left click > draw > hover > V > left click >

Using this method on a two layer board will automatically toggle between top and bottom. Every time you left click will swap sides.

For multi layer boards, you need to assign hotkeys for each internal layer. Top and bottom layers use PageUp and PageDown.

Personally for a four layer board, I set the hotkeys to the number pad on my keyboard. Top = 1, In1 = 2, In2 = 3, Bottom = 4.

To change layers, all you do is press a hotkey while drawing. If you stop pressing a hotkey the function will revert to toggling between top & bottom.

Halfway down the Appearance Manager on the RHS is “Layer Display Options”.
Selecting “Dim” will dim all layers except the layer and net you are working on.