The stinkin' N key

In schematic editor, pressing the N key cycles through various grid sizes, something I find incredibly-annoying. I use the M key to move all the time, and sometimes I must slip and hit N. Thinking I could simply go to prefs and fix it, I find that the schematic hotkey for N is defined as New Symbol, which is clearly incorrect. I must be missing something. Is there some other pref that overrides hotkeys? thx

Yeah, still on v7 for a little longer:

Application: KiCad Schematic Editor x64 on x64

Version: 7.0.10, release build

wxWidgets 3.2.4
FreeType 2.12.1
HarfBuzz 8.2.1
FontConfig 2.14.2
libcurl/8.4.0-DEV Schannel zlib/1.3

Platform: Windows 10 (build 19045), 64-bit edition, 64 bit, Little endian, wxMSW

Build Info:
Date: Dec 28 2023 21:18:15
wxWidgets: 3.2.4 (wchar_t,wx containers)
Boost: 1.83.0
OCC: 7.7.1
Curl: 8.4.0-DEV
ngspice: 41
Compiler: Visual C++ 1936 without C++ ABI

Build settings:

If you search for grid in the hotkey list, you will find that n is (by default) assigned to Switch to Next Grid

Also, For me, **New Symbols is assigned to [Ctrl + N]. Maybe you changed that a long time ago yourself?

Ahh, in Common section. Got it fixed. Thanks Paul!

“Switch to Previous Grid” is Alt + N, so I chose “Switch to Next Grid” as Shift + N

N became “Edit Grids” which is useful for choosing grids when in the Symbol / Footprint Editors and also only brings up a grid preferences window on the screen instead of activating something that will stuff-up whatever you are doing. :slightly_smiling_face:

I made these changes back in Kicad 6 and been gunna (or maybe I did, back then) create a Feature Request to change these hotkeys as you are probably the 250th (or more) person to get caught out. :frowning_face:

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Welcome to the club.

I think “grid overrides” is the term you should be searching for.

It seems, in the past, I must have only thought about this feature request.
No, it seems I contributed to a hornets nest. :frowning_face:

Now I have made it:

I’ve also complained about that default. When I teach kicad to students they all inadvertently hit that key without realizing it, screw up their grid and then can’t figure out why it’s hard to connect wires. It’s easy to remap but a real pain point for new users.

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The N key bites nearly every user at some stage. I just don’t understand why it became so sacred.
I never change schematic grid, holding down the CTRL key is a better solution to nudging text.


For what it’s worth, this issue has been addressed in v8 in a variety of ways.

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But I don’t believe the address is satisfactory for many. Schematic is now shipped with four grids. 50 is the default startup.
First miss-key (to 25mil) and the user realizes something is a bit different, but everything still works as it should. Second miss-key (to 10mil) and the user is in big trouble and doesn’t know why.

The first (and only) time this problem occurred for me, I realized immediately there was a grid problem. I opened the grids and reset to 50. The next time it happened was a WTF moment: was this an incredibly bad bug???

It must have taken me 15 min. to nail the problem down to the N hotkey. Grid changing hotkeys were not at the top of my learning list for understanding Kicad; and I’ve been using electronic CAD programs since DOS days.
I pity the newbies. :frowning_face:

Kicad is FOS, so it is pretty much guaranteed a huge number new users. This sort of thoughtless assignment just gives the program a bad reputation.

Sorry Mike; I read both Gitlab requests, but I just cannot understand the reason for not changing the N hotkey.
Those proficient with Kicad can change a hotkey to what they wish in 10 seconds flat. Why not alter one resettable hotkey to save at least hundreds from frustration and cursing Kicad.


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The “grid presets” window that pops up momentarily does give feedback, and this works nicely when you are familiar with it’s function, but for someone not familiar with KiCad (beginner), who accidentally hits that key, it is unlikely to help in any way.

The n key for switching grids has never troubled me, but I have read quite some posts on this forum when it causes troubles. I guess I just don’t press unintended keys that much.

I do like the “Grid Overrides” that make it possible to set different grids for different types of objects. The way the grid works in the schematic editor, and connections depend only on coordinates is one of the few remaining kludges in KiCad, and it exacerbates the problems with the n key.
Another unintended side effect from KiCad’s reliance on coordinates for connections, is that the “Align Items to Grid” sometimes creates unintended shorts between different nets.

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I can also confirm that I am frequently bamboozled by this hotkey. What’s worse, I rarely recall what it was set to previously making correcting from the mistake that much harder…

Admittedly, I never thought that the N hotkey, or any of them for that matter, could be changed - nor did I look - so now I know I definitely intend to change it. tbh I’ll probably just de-map it entirely, if I want to change grids I use the drop downs so I know what I’m change to.

The grid overrides feature locks important items to those grids regardless of what your current grid is. I believe the defaults are graphics on 100 mils, connectable items on 50, wires on 25, and text on 10.

Since grid overrides are on by default, no matter how many times you press the N key, your connectable parts will always be forced to a 50 mil grid unless you turn off grid overrides.

At this point I will ask, have you actually tried the new version?

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Of course. :slightly_smiling_face:

But: This time I reset the Hotkeys and Grids to default, and, instead of just paying attention to the Grid setting on the bottom of the screen and in the Preferences, I took note of Symbol, Wire and Text movements.

Thankyou! :grinning:

The Grid Overrides are a fine addition to Kicad. Anyone who now messes with the Grid Overrides should also be capable of knowing the consequences of the N Hotkey.

Personally, I’ll still use the N hotkey for Grids instead of Next Grid, because I use many more grids, especially for the Symbol Editor. I prefer to select the grid I want rather than scroll with Next/Previous Grid; but that is my choice.

The only thing I find a little disconcerting with your new system is the change to the current Grid notification in Preferences and the bottom of the screen when the N hotkey is used, without changes to the grid settings listed in the Overrides.

Only disconcerting though, as the function is required for anything not overridden.

Since everyone here is posting them having/had issues with the n key (which is understandable due to the nature of the topic), I just wanted to say that I really like this feature, and from the very beginning.
Not saying that they’re all wrong - just that there are people who also like it.

But then again, I do understand it can be confusing to a new user and v8 (or was it 7?) changes that added a popup was a welcome change.