Reference manual

This document is Copyright © 2010-2018 by it’s 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.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


The KiCad Team.


Please direct any bug reports, suggestions or new versions to here:

Publication date and software version

Published on February 24, 2018.

1. Introduction to GerbView

GerbView is a Gerber file (RS-274X format) and Excellon drill file viewer. Up to 32 files can be displayed at once.

For more information about the Gerber file format please read the Gerber File Format Specification. Details about drill file format can be found at the Excellon format description.

2. Interface

2.1. Main window


2.2. Top toolbar



Clear all layers


Load Gerber files


Load Excellon drill files


Set page size



zoom_in_png zoom_out_png

Zoom in or out


Redraw view


Zoom auto (zoom fit)


Zoom to selection


Select active layer


Highlight items of selected D Code on the active layer


Display info about active layer


Highlight items belonging to selected component (Gerber X2)


Highlight items belonging to selected net (Gerber X2)


Highlight items with the selected attribute (Gerber X2)

2.3. Left toolbar



Select items


Measure between two points


Toggle grid visibility


Toggle polar coordinates display

unit_inch_png unit_mm_png

Select inch or millimeter units


Toggle full-screen cursor


Display flashed items in sketch (outline) mode


Display lines in sketch (outline) mode


Display polygons in sketch (outline) mode


Show negative objects in ghost color


Show/hide D Codes


Display current layer in high-contrast mode

gbr_select_mode0_png gbr_select_mode1_png gbr_select_mode2_png

Select raw/stacked/transparency display mode

2.4. Layers Manager


The Layers Manager controls and displays visibility of all layers. An arrow indicates the active layer, and each layer can be shown or hidden with the checkboxes.

Mouse button assignments:

  • Left click: select the active layer

  • Right click: show/hide/sort layers options

  • Middle click or double click (on color swatch): select the layer color

The Layers tab allows you to control the visibility and color of all loaded Gerber and drill layers. The Items tab allows you to control the color and display of the grid, D Codes, and negative objects.

3. Commands in menu bar

3.1. File menu

  • Export to Pcbnew is a limited capability to export Gerber files into Pcbnew. The final result depends on what features of the RS-274X format are used in the original Gerber files: rasterized items cannot be converted (typically negative objects), flashed items are converted to vias, lines are converted to track segments (or graphic lines for non-copper layers).

3.2. Preferences menu


3.2.1. Toolsets

GerbView now supports the modern graphics toolset that is available in PcbNew. Enabling the modern toolset brings new features and better performance. You can select which toolset to use in the preferences menu. Using the Modern (Accelerated) toolset is recommended if your graphics card supports it (requires OpenGL 2.0). If your graphics card does not support the Accelerated toolset, you can still use the new features by selecting the Modern (Fallback) toolset.

Using the Legacy toolset is only recommended if you notice that the Modern toolset does not support a feature you need or if it does not render a Gerber file correctly. If you notice such a problem, please notify the KiCad developers so that it can be fixed in a future release.

The Legacy toolset will be removed in a future version of GerbView.

3.3. Miscellaneous menu

  • List DCodes shows the D Code information for all layers.

  • Show Source displays the Gerber file contents of the active layer in a text editor.

  • Clear Current Layer erases the contents of the active layer.

  • Set Text Editor… allows you to choose which program to show source with.

4. Display modes

GerbView has three display modes which are useful for different situations or requirements.

Stacked mode and Transparency mode provide a better graphical experience, but may be slower then Raw mode on some computers.

4.1. Raw mode

This mode is selected by gbr_select_mode0_png . Each file and each item in the file are drawn in the order files are loaded. However, the active layer is drawn last.

When Gerber files have negative items (drawn in black), artifacts may be visible on already-drawn layers.


4.2. Stacked mode

Invoked by gbr_select_mode1_png , each file is drawn in the order files are loaded. Again, the active layer is drawn last.

When Gerber files have negative items (drawn in black) there are no artifacts on already-drawn layers because this mode draws each file in a local buffer before it is shown on screen.


4.3. Transparency mode

Use gbr_select_mode2_png to display in this mode, where no artifacts are present and layers are blended together with the active layer on top.


4.4. Layer occlusion

In raw or stacked mode, the active layer will be on top of other layers and hide items below it.

Here, layer 1 (green) is the active layer (note the triangle next to it) and so it is drawn on top of layer 2 (blue):


Making layer 2 (blue) the active layer brings it to the top:


5. Moving items

When using the legacy toolset, items may be selected by holding down the left mouse button and drawing a rectangle. Releasing the button picks up the items. A click of the left mouse button places the items.

This behavior is deprecated and not available in the modern toolsets.

6. Printing

To print layers, use the print_button_png icon or the File → Print menu.


Be sure items are inside the printable area. Use sheetset_png to select a suitable page format.

Note that many photoplotters support a large plottable area, much bigger than the page sizes used by most printers. Moving the entire layer set may be required.