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In the KiCAD PCBnew layout editor, is there some way to see what a footprint looks like before I place it? Or am I forced to select a footprint that has a plausible-sounding (ASCII text) name, place it, and then afterwards delete it and start over ... until I find the right one?

How do I look at all the footprints in a footprint library without laboriously selecting one, placing it, going "That's not what I wanted", through the whole list?

I would be happy with any one of

  • a quick way generate .pdf of all the footprints in the library
  • a quick way to generate a "dummy PCB" with every footprint in the library
  • somehow show each footprints one by one, with at most a single arrow-key to get to the next one (like the KiCAD EESchema schematic editor, when I place a schematic symbol I can see what it looks like before I place it.)
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In recent versions of KiCad there is a Footprint Library Browser, allowing exactly what you asked for. It can be opened from inside PcbNew via the menu option "View >> Library Browser".

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footprints that come with KiCAD

In the KiCAD PCBnew layout editor, when I can choose the menu option "Place >> Module", then right-click on the PCB and choose "Footprint Documentation", it opens up a big "footprints.pdf" file. That file has one page for each of the libraries that come with KiCAD, showing all the footprints in that library. That is perfectly adequate, except it only shows the footprints that come with KiCAD, not any of the footprints that I've downloaded. Is there some way to generate a similar ".pdf" file for footprints in the libraries I've downloaded (or created myself)?

footprints in libraries you've downloaded or created

Install the library (see How do I install a KiCad schematic or footprint library? ).

Start up CVpcb, hit the "view selected footprint" button, then click on the footprint names in the CVpcb window (or click on one name, then use the arrow keys).

That shows you one footprint at a time.

There may be a better way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is this question an answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Aug 11 '11 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Leon - Because it's one way to accomplish what the question is aiming for, but doesn't meet all of the author's criteria. I've edited it to reflect this. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Aug 11 '11 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ After I wrote the original question, I figured out this method -- but I hope there is a better way. \$\endgroup\$ – davidcary Aug 22 '11 at 18:25
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PCB-only workflows are a bit difficult.

If you have a schematic in the schematic editor (eeschema), you can use the footprint association tool (cvpcb) to assign footprints to components; the association tool has a preview window that shows the currently selected footprint.

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