Everything depends on your KiCad version. I assume you run version 5.0.x. If you run anything else then it might all be a bit different.
In general you might want to look at the forum FAQ topics (The forum has two different FAQs. One is regarding the forum software it self and one is regarding KiCad)
Highlighting works by clicking the highlight tool in the right toolbar.
There might be a shortcut. But i am not sure about that. (crtl+F1 should give you a list of shortcuts)
The “local ratsnest” mode could also help (right toolbar).
Not by selecting but them. There are however dedicated tools for that that allow you to do it in a tabular form:
- Assign footprints (formally known as cvpcb)
- Edit symbol fields -> editing other fields (you can edit the footprint field here but only completely manually)
We have a topic handling assigning of footprints in our FAQ.
The external tool “freeroute”. For it you would export e spectre netlist from pcb_new, let freeroute do its job and reimport the result (session file).
I never used an autorouter so i am of no help here beyond giving you a starting point. <humor> Never trust the autorouter </humor>
In the past there was a kicad internal autorouter. It was very limited in what it can do and relied on the legacy canvas. The devs did not feel it was worth their time to port it to the new toolset.
There was talk on the mailing list to resurrect. But i doubt this will happen anytime soon. (There are things of higher priority on their list.)
KiCads focus is on having very efficient semi automatic tools. (Push and shove router as well as a Walk around solver)