When drawing a schematic in Eeschema Editor in KiCAD, there is a button to "Run CvPcb to associate components and footprints", so a schematic symbol on the *.sch file can be associated to a physical component to generate the Netlist and be soldered on the PCB when manufacturered. The component list in this library is kind of small relative to the number of components available for sale online. Is it possible to import components into KiCAD that users of the program have already created, so you don't have to build them from scratch using the Editor? Where can I find them, and how do I import them? I've only been using KiCAD for a week, because I learned it in Ham Radio Club. So I've never drawn a schematic before this week.
There are a lot of places where you can import custom-made components that manufacturers provide. For instance, Macrofab, a company here in Houston where I live, has instructions on how to do what you're asking.
Assuming that the manufacturer has components you can import into KiCAD, here are the instructions on how to do so. You may need to contact the manufacturer of the component to see if they have a component for KiCAD. Otherwise, you'll have to end up making it yourself and specifying its characteristics. I know at my job, I typically ask for the vendor if they have any SPICE or CAD components of their own products that I can import into the software and they typically do.
Otherwise, I have two options if they don't have what I am looking for: 1) Don't use their products and move on to the next product that I can use to get the job done... or 2) Ask for a specifications sheet along with its architecture (if I'm dealing with FPGAs or ASICs) and create it on the software... which isn't exactly a lot of fun.
But I'm digressing (but it is important if you're dealing with manufacturers)... Here the steps you can take to import what you need into KiCAD.
1) Open KiCAD
2) On the program/tool list, go to Eeschema.
3) Click Select -> Preferences -> Library.
4) Click Add and choose the newly exported ".lib" file.
5) You're finished!
Now if you want to import the footprints and patterns, then you need to follow these steps:
1) On the program/tool list, go to Pcbnew.
2) Follow the same steps as you would importing symbols, only this time select the ".mod" file.
3) You're done!
The Kicad philosophy is: There are components and there are footprints, and you need to match the component with the footprint. Why? Because the same component might be available in different footprints. AFAIK, all common footprints are already present in Kicad. Only footprints I have had to make were of heatsinks and connectors.
After you draw the schematic (and have run annotate), you have to run CvPCB. This will pull up the browser where you can select your footprints. Only after all components have been assigned footprints, should you create the netlist. Then start the board editor and import netlist. If some components do not have footprints assigned yet, the board editor will issue warnings when you import the netlist there. Go to the schema editor, and run CvPCB to fix that.
The issue with components and footprints also extends to the schematic editor. There are devices and there are components and you need to match the device to the components. e.g. there are 3 leg transistors, 4 leg transistors etc... and you need to match your part with the correct schematic, and then again match the correct footprint with that schematic. Only constraint is the number of pins on the schematic and footprint must match, and they must be numbered the same. You need to check that the numbering is in correct order. e.g. there are transistors with BCE, CBE, ECB... and all of them have pins numbered 123. You will need to make sure 1,2 and 3 correspond to the correct transistor leg. There is a footprint viewer from CvPCB, which will show you which pad corresponds to which pin number. The schematic editor already shows the pin number.
All this is unlike eagle, where footprints are hardcoded with the component. In Kicad, it is perfectly possible to assign a capacitor footprint to a diode, intentionally, or by mistake. Very flexible.
PS: CVPCB may need internet to run. There is a way to force it to use the already installed libraries. Open the settings from CvPCB, and change the KGithub to KISYSMOD. Hope you're using the latest version of Kicad.