PCBNew reference desiginators not showing on front silk

I’m using 5.1.5 and I must have messed up something in the global settings. The designators are there in the front cu layer…in red but do not show at all when I look at the 3D view or in the gerber viewer. The rest of the silkscreen items that I added manually for context are there so it would seem that the issue isn’t in the silk screen layer itself. I’ve been trying different combos in the Edit >> Edit Text & Graphic Properties menu but I can’t figure out how I messed this up or how to get it back to normal.

You want them on the F.SilkS but you say F.Cu. You know they are different layers? Which is it? Here’s the text property of a footprint showing that the text is normally on F.SilkS. That’s also where you edit it.

Yes, I know they are different layers. I know I can change the display on each individual designator but my problem is that all of them are missing. So I’m guessing I changed something in a global menu.

Using this menu I can make the designators appear or disappear on the front cu layer by changing the layer in the “filters” field. But it doesn’t work to make them show up on the front silkscreen for some reason. I must be missing something.

Well stop calling it front cu then, it’s just the front. The silkscreen goes on top of the soldermask layer anyway, not the copper layer.

Maybe if you post your ,kicad_pcb file somoen can spot what the problem is.

Ah…my mistake. Thanks for setting me straight.

Here’s the pcb file.pre_amp.kicad_pcb (484.7 KB)

Well I don’t know how you managed to do that, but your references have been put on the F.Cu layer, and also set not to show. Take for example U3:

When I turn on Show and change the layer to F.SilkS, it shows in the 3D view, as expected.

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Just beginner’s luck :slight_smile:

I’m just going to reset each one individually at this point. I really have no idea how I got it this way. But I’m relieved I didn’t delete them all for good somehow!

Thanks for taking a look!

That was an hour ago…

I had a peek at your PCB, and you have apparently managed to move all the RefDes text to the F.Cu layer, and set it to “invisible”.

You can repair it with:
Pcbnew / Edit / Edit Track & Graphics Properties… with these settings:

  1. Scope: Footprint references.
  2. Action: Set to specified values:
  3. Action / Layer: F.SilkS
  4. Action / [V] Visible
  5. [OK]

Another way to do this is: Pcbnew / Tools / Update Footprints from Library / Update all footprints on board and with Update Options / [x] Reset text layers and visibilities

These functions are quite powerful, and may have unintended side effects. So please make a backup before you start experimenting with these dialogs.

I did run into a little snag with this second method. I get 66 errors with “*** footprint not found ***”
Your PCB references footprints for resistors with identifier:


While the closest match I have in my library is:


Similar for capacitors and I also see a connector in the error messages.

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Thanks for taking a look. Whatever I did was beyond simple. I only posted in this forum after trying the same steps you outline here. Your other solution may work…I had already reset each footprint individually by the time you posted. It only took about 20 minutes so not too bad. This is my first board so I look at all of this as part of the learning curve.

Thank you again for your replies!

I did both methods on your PCB, and they both worked for me.
But the devil’s in the details. For example in step 4 of the first method:
There I changed the “Visible” from the default horizontal dash (same as before the Italic text) to the V. It’s easy to skip such a thing, and then KiCad won’t change anything.

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