Manuel de Référence

This document is Copyright © 2010-2018 by its contributors as listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 3.0 or later.

Toutes les marques apparaissant dans ce document appartiennent à leurs propriétaires respectifs.


Jean-Pierre Charras, Fabrizio Tappero, Marc Berlioux.


Marc Berlioux <>, 2015-2016.


Merci de signaler vos corrections de bugs, suggestions ou nouvelles versions ici :

Date de publication et version du logiciel

2015, May 21.

1. Introduction

1.1. KiCad

KiCad est un logiciel open-source destiné à la création de schémas électroniques et de circuits imprimés. D’apparence monolithique, KiCad est en réalité une suite de plusieurs logiciels spécifiques qui coopèrent :

  • KiCad: Project manager

  • Eeschema: Schematic editor and component editor

  • Pcbnew: Circuit board layout editor and footprint editor

  • GerbView: Gerber viewer

3 utility tools are also included:

  • Bitmap2Component: Component maker for logos. It creates a schematic component or a footprint from a bitmap picture.

  • PcbCalculator: A calculator that is helpful to calculate components for regulators, track width versus current, transmission lines, etc.

  • Pl Editor: Page layout editor.

Ces outils sont normalement lancés depuis le gestionnaire de projet, mais peuvent aussi être lancés indépendamment.

KiCad n’a aucune limitation de taille des circuits imprimés et peut facilement gérer jusqu'à 32 couches de cuivre, jusqu'à 14 couches techniques, et 4 couches auxiliaires.

KiCad can create all the files necessary for building printed circuit boards, including:

  • fichiers Gerber pour photo-traceurs

  • fichiers de perçage

  • fichiers d’implantation automatique des composants

Étant open-source (licence GPL), KiCad est l’outil idéal pour la création de matériel électronique orienté open-source ou open-hardware.

KiCad is available for Linux, Windows and Apple macOS.

1.2. Fichiers et dossiers de KiCad

KiCad crée et utilise, pour l'édition des schéma et circuits, des fichiers et dossiers avec les extensions suivantes :

Fichier du gestionnaire de projet :


Fichier contenant les paramètres du projet actuel, y compris la liste des librairies de composants.

Fichiers de l'éditeur de schéma :


Schematic files, which do not contain the components themselves.


Schematic component library files, containing the component descriptions: graphic shape, pins, fields.


Schematic component library documentation, containing some component descriptions: comments, keywords, reference to data sheets.


Schematic component library cache file, containing a copy of the components used in the schematic project.


Symbol library list (symbol library table): list of symbol libraries available in the schematic editor.

Fichiers et dossiers de l'éditeur de circuits :


Board file containing all info but the page layout.


Footprint library folders. The folder itself is the library.


Footprint files, containing one footprint description each.


Board file in the legacy format. Can be read, but not written, by the current board editor.


Footprint library in the legacy format. Can be read by the footprint or the board editor, but not written.


Footprint library list (footprint library table): list of footprint libraries (various formats) which are loaded by the board or the footprint editor or CvPcb.

Fichiers communs :


Page layout description files, for people who want a worksheet with a custom look.


Netlist file created by the schematic, and read by the board editor. This file is associated to the .cmp file, for users who prefer a separate file for the component/footprint association.

Fichiers spéciaux :


Association between components used in the schematic and their footprints. It can be created by Pcbnew and imported by Eeschema. Its purpose is to import changes from Pcbnew to Eeschema, for users who change footprints inside Pcbnew (for instance using Exchange Footprints command) and want to import these changes in schematic.

Autres fichiers :

Ils sont générés par KiCad pour la fabrication ou la documentation.


Gerber files, for fabrication.


Drill files (Excellon format), for fabrication.


Position files (ASCII format), for automatic insertion machines.


Report files (ASCII format), for documentation.


Plot files (Postscript), for documentation.


Plot files (PDF format), for documentation.


Plot files (SVG format), for documentation.


Plot files (DXF format), for documentation.


Plot files (HPGL format), for documentation.

2. Installation et configuration

2.1. Options d’affichage

Hardware accelerated renderer in Pcbnew and Gerbview requires video card with support of OpenGL v2.1 or higher.

2.2. Initialisation de la configuration par défaut

The default configuration file named is supplied in kicad/template. It serves as a template for any new project and is used to set the list of library files loaded by Eeschema. A few other parameters for Pcbnew (default text size, default line thickness, etc.) are also stored here.

Another default configuration file named fp-lib-table may exist. It will be used only once to create a footprint library list; otherwise the list will be created from scratch.

2.3. Modifying the default configuration

The default file can be freely modified, if desired.

Vérifiez que vous avez les droits en écriture sur le fichier kicad/template/

Run KiCad and load project.

Run Eeschema via KiCad manager. Modify and update the Eeschema configuration, to set the list of libraries you want to use each time you create new projects.

Run Pcbnew via KiCad manager. Modify and update the Pcbnew configuration, especially the footprint library list. Pcbnew will create or update a library list file called footprint library table. There are 2 library list files (named fp-lib-table): The first (located in the user home directory) is global for all projects and the second (located in the project directory) is optional and specific to the project.

2.4. Paths configuration

In KiCad, one can define paths using an environment variable. A few environment variables are internally defined by KiCad, and can be used to define paths for libraries, 3D shapes, etc.

This is useful when absolute paths are not known or are subject to change (e.g. when you transfer a project to a different computer), and also when one base path is shared by many similar items. Consider the following which may be installed in varying locations:

  • Eeschema component libraries

  • Pcbnew footprint libraries

  • 3D shape files used in footprint definitions

For instance, the path to the connect.pretty footprint library, when using the KISYSMOD environment variable, would be defined as ${KISYSMOD}/connect.pretty

This option allows you to define a path using an environment variable, and add your own environment variables to define personal paths, if needed.

KiCad environment variables:


Templates used during project creation. If you are using this variable, it must be defined.


Base path of symbol library files.


Frequently used in example footprint lib tables. If you are using this variable, it must be defined.


Base path of 3D shapes files, and must be defined because an absolute path is not usually used.


Base path of footprint library folders, and must be defined if an absolute path is not used in footprint library names.


Note also the environment variable KIPRJMOD is always internally defined by KiCad, and is the current project absolute path.

For instance, ${KIPRJMOD}/connect.pretty is always the connect.pretty folder (the pretty footprint library) found inside the current project folder.

If you modify the configuration of paths, please quit and restart KiCad to avoid any issues in path handling.

2.5. Initialization of external utilities

You may define your favorite text editor and PDF viewer. These settings are used whenever you want to open a text or PDF file.

These settings are accessible from the Preference menu:


2.5.1. Selection of text editor

Before using a text editor to browse/edit files in the current project, you must choose the text editor you want to use.

Select Preferences → Set Text Editor to set the text editor you want to use.

2.5.2. Selection of PDF viewer

You may use the default PDF viewer or choose your own.

To change from the default PDF viewer use Preferences → PDF Viewer → Set PDF Viewer to choose the PDF viewer program, then select Preferences → PDF Viewer → Favourite PDF Viewer.

On Linux the default PDF viewer is known to be fragile, so selecting your own PDF viewer is recommended.

2.6. Creating a new project

In order to manage a KiCad project consisting of schematic files, printed circuit board files, supplementary libraries, manufacturing files for photo-tracing, drilling and automatic component placement files, it is recommended to create a project as follows:

  • Créez un répertoire de travail pour le projet, en utilisant Kicad, ou par un autre moyen.

  • Dans ce répertoire, utilisez Kicad pour créer le fichier de projet (fichier avec l’extension .pro), via les icônes "Créer un nouveau projet" ou "Créer un nouveau projet à partir d’un modèle".

Use a unique directory for each KiCad project. Do not combine multiple projects into a single directory.

KiCad creates a file with a .pro extension that maintains a number of parameters for project management (such as the list of libraries used in the schematic). Default names of both main schematic file and printed circuit board file are derived from the name of the project. Thus, if a project called was created in a directory called example, the default files will be created:

Project management file.


Main schematic file.


Printed circuit board file.

Netlist file.


Various files created by the other utility programs.


Library file automatically created and used by the schematic editor containing a backup of the components used in the schematic.

2.7. Importing a foreign project

KiCad is able to import files created using other software packages. Currently only Eagle 6.x or newer (XML format) is supported.

To import a foreign project, you need to select either a schematic or a board file in the import file browser dialog. Imported schematic and board files should have the same base file name (e.g. project.sch and project.brd). Once the requested files are selected, you will be asked to select a directory to store the imported files, which are going to be saved as a KiCad project.

3. Using KiCad project manager

KiCad project manager (kicad or kicad.exe) is a tool which can easily run the other tools (schematic and PCB editors, Gerber viewer and utility tools) when creating a design.

Lancer les autres outils depuis le gestionnaire KiCad présente certains avantages :

  • contrôle croisé entre éditeur de schémas et éditeur de circuit-imprimés.

  • contrôle croisé entre éditeur de schémas et sélecteur d’empreintes (CvPcb).

However, you can only edit the current project files. When these tools are run in stand alone mode, you can open any file in any project but cross probing between tools can give strange results.

3.1. Project manager window


La fenêtre principale de KiCad est composée de l’arborescence du projet, d’une barre de lancement, munie de boutons, utilisée pour lancer les différents outils logiciels et utilitaires, et d’une fenêtre de messages. Le menu et la barre d’outils supérieure peuvent être utilisés pour créer, lire et enregistrer les fichiers du projet.

3.2. Barre de lancement des utilitaires

KiCad allows you to run all standalone software tools that come with it.

La barre de lancement est composée des 8 boutons qui correspondent aux outils suivants, de 1 (à gauche) à 8 (à droite) :




Schematic editor.



Component editor and component library manager.



Board layout editor.



Footprint editor and footprint library manager.



Gerber file viewer. It can also display drill files.



Tool to build a footprint or a component from a B&W bitmap image to create logos.


Pcb Calculator

Tool to calculate track widths, and many other things.


Pl Editor

Page layout editor, to create/customize frame references.

3.3. Arborescence du projet


Double-clicking on the schematic file runs the schematic editor, in this case opening the file pic_programmer.sch.

Double-clicking on the board file runs the layout editor, in this case opening the file pic_programmer.kicad_pcb.

Un clic droit sur un des fichiers de l’arborescence du projet permet les manipulations ordinaires du fichier.

3.4. Barre d’outils supérieure


KiCad top toolbar allows for some basic file operations:


Create a new project. If the default template file ( is found in kicad/template, it is copied into the working directory.


Create a new project from an existing template.


Open an existing project.


Update and save the current project tree.


Create a zip archive of the whole project. This includes schematic files, libraries, PCB, etc.


Refresh the tree view, sometimes needed after a tree change.

4. Project templates

Using a project template facilitates setting up a new project with predefined settings. Templates may contain pre-defined board outlines, connector positions, schematic elements, design rules, etc. Complete schematics and/or PCBs used as seed files for the new project may even be included.

4.1. Utilisation des modèles (ou templates)

The File → New Project → New Project from Template menu will open the Project Template Selector dialog:


A single click on a template’s icon will display the template information, and a further click on the OK button creates the new project. The template files will be copied to the new project location and renamed to reflect the new project’s name.

Après la sélection d’un modèle :


4.2. Template Locations:

KiCad looks for template files in the following paths:

  • System templates: <kicad bin dir>/../share/kicad/template/

  • User templates:

    • Unix: ~/kicad/templates/

    • Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\kicad\templates

    • Mac: ~/Documents/kicad/templates/

  • When the environment variable KICAD_PTEMPLATES is defined there is a third tab, Portable Templates, which lists templates found at the KICAD_PTEMPLATES path.

4.3. Creating templates

The template name is the directory name where the template files are stored. The metadata directory is a subdirectory named meta containing files describing the template.

All files and directories in a template are copied to the new project path when a project is created using a template, except meta.

When a new project is created from a template, all files and directories starting with the template name will be renamed with the new project file name, excluding the file extension.

The metadata consists of one required file, and may contain optional files. All files must be created by the user using a text editor or previous KiCad project files, and placed into the required directory structure.

Here is an example showing project files for raspberrypi-gpio template:


And the metadata files:


4.3.1. Required File:


HTML-formatted information describing the template.

The <title> tag determines the actual name of the template that is exposed to the user for template selection. Note that the project template name will be cut off if it’s too long. Due to font kerning, typically 7 or 8 characters can be displayed.

Using HTML means that images can be easily in-lined without having to invent a new scheme. Only basic HTML tags can be used in this document.

Here is a sample info.html file:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<TITLE>Raspberry Pi - Expansion Board</TITLE>
<META NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="LibreOffice 3.6 (Windows)">
<META NAME="CHANGED" CONTENT="20121015;19015295">
<P>This project template is the basis of an expansion board for the
<A HREF="" TARGET="blank">Raspberry Pi $25
ARM board.</A> <BR><BR>This base project includes a PCB edge defined
as the same size as the Raspberry-Pi PCB with the connectors placed
correctly to align the two boards. All IO present on the Raspberry-Pi
board is connected to the project through the 0.1&quot; expansion
headers. <BR><BR>The board outline looks like the following:
<P><IMG SRC="brd.png" NAME="brd" ALIGN=BOTTOM WIDTH=680 HEIGHT=378
<P>(c)2012 Brian Sidebotham<BR>(c)2012 KiCad Developers</P>

4.3.2. Fichiers optionnels


A 64 x 64 pixel PNG icon file which is used as a clickable icon in the template selection dialog.

Any other image files used by meta/info.html, such as the image of the board file in the dialog above, are placed in this folder as well.