Smoothly Placing components

There are two things that will make my life a lot easier as I begin to arrange the components in my PCB layout. I hope someone can help:

  1. When I press Ctrl-F to find a particular component e.g. “R23”, KiCad finds it but keeps the Find dialogue box open and prevents doing anything until you close the dialogue box. Is there a way to make this dialogue box modeless instead of modal. I need a continuous process of quickly finding a component and moving it

  2. I can turn off rats nest. Great. Is there a setting I can make so that it is enabled for a component whilst it is being moved or dragged?

Use Ctrl-T instead.

For the second question, you can use the local ratsnest to enable for a specific component/pad but the option for all-moving ratsnest will need to wait for v6 (it’s been requested)

The ratsnest while moving was in previous versions including v5.0. Was there a particular reason for removing it. (It even makes sense to highlight the ratsnest of the moved component if all ratsnest is shown. I seem to remember this was in v4 not sure about 5.0)

Edit: this is the wishlist bug in question:

Many thanks Seth_h. Ctrl-T does nothing for me. If I press it when a component is highlighted or selected, it brings up a “Create Array” dialogue box (see screenshot below). If pressed with no component highlighted, nothing happens.

Regarding Ctrl-F, it would be useful to make it so that one can find a specific component, place it then repeat for next in quick succession. A small docked or dockable box to type in the component ref that is cleared once the component is relocated should work fine. Also on pressing Enter in the search box, the component should not just be highlighted but be picked up ready for relocation. Currently the modal form does not only prevent doing anything but also covers the highlighted component. (The exact behavior of the search box may be configurable in case you think a lot of people may disagree with me).

On the same topic, I have turned off all texts for components. Even then, when I click to highlight or move a component, it still picks on the hidden text. I think it is better to assume one is not trying to hit on hidden properties and just operate on the component.

Only press T and the dialog opens.


Bulls-eye Pedro! That’s exactly it. Many thanks.

Users complained that it was always shown regardless of the local ratsnest setting. We can make it an option in v6 as it will be a string change.

1 Like

When using T or M to move a component, can we have it that an outline of the current position or a rubber band to it is left on place until the new position is confirmed? Right now you do a T and the component required snaps to the cursor. Great. But you don’t know where it’s come from, whether it is from the unplaced pile or from another already placed.

Esc before placing the footprint sends the footprint back to its former place.

Ctrl-F moves the cursor onto the selected footprint.

Thanks Pedro. Esc before placing is a clumsy workaround. I already do this but it means you have to repeat the process to actually place the component.

Ctrl-F moves cursor to selected component but then covers it with the dialogue box so you cannot see it or do anything with it until you close the dialogue box.

The dialog box can be freely moved around the display before and after the search.

When I start a new PCB I usually have the schematic open on my second monitor (or you can print it on paper), and then use ‘t’ to grab footprints from the pile and place them very roughly into groups that should go together. In that first stage I do not pay any regard to ratsnest or good placement. It’s just a sorting step.

I’ve heard of a Python script that imports the footprints and roughly places them in the same relative locations as they are on the schematic, but I’ve never had luck with scripts in KiCad.

I’m using KiCad V 5.1.0 at the moment and I recently discovered:

Pcbnew / Place / Auto-Place / Auto-place offboard components.
I just experimented a bit with it (for the first time) and it does do “something”.
It places half of the components on the board, and the other half on top of each other in the upper left corner of the PCB. I’m not sure if it’s usefull in it’s current state, but it is probably a preleminary or experimental function.

If you use hierarchical design than kicad does a lot of this work already on first import. It organizes the footprints grouped per sheet. Meaning the more abstraction layers you use the better your experience will be. (Might however require learning a new paradigm that relies on a very different way to break down problems compared to the flat design paradigm.)


Thanks Rene_Poschl and paulvdh for the helpful suggestions.

Also, if you have your schematics organized in hierarchical sheets, it will always group together footprints from the same sheet. Might help you as well.

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.