I have a protel (.pcb) file that I need to open in Altium, but the import wizard says that protel files have the extension .ddb.

I don't even know which software the .pcb extension belongs to - how do I import it into Altium?


Whenever I try to use the import wizard, it says "error, file type not recognized". I am using Altium version 21

  • \$\begingroup\$ have you tried renaming it to ddb? (wild guess) \$\endgroup\$
    – tobalt
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually did try that haha, but no luck :/ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 20:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ PADS used .pcb as a file extension. You could try the PADS importer, but it's a long shot. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried renaming it to .PcbDoc and just opening it? (not using import). Protel became Altium... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did u try to just open it without import wizard? Altium IS Protel... they changed the name about 20 years ago. Or it WAS Protel...think it spun off as Autotrax \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyle B
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 23:15

2 Answers 2


Just to try it:

I exported a PCB from a Protel ddb file and then opened the PCB file in Protel and it said it was a PCB98 file. It created the ddb file after opened. You could import the ddb file in Altium but it looks like you need Protel. This is all assuming your PCB file came from a Protel export operation like me of course.


You probably got this done already, but putting this here for others that might run into the same problem.

The Design Database (DDB) file is either a text file pointing to the files in the project or it is a binary file containing the actual project files. In both of these cases, the actual PCB file with the layout would be in the .pcb file.

Protel 99 uses "PCB 4.0 Binary File" for the .pcb file format and you can just open it using File->Open and Altium Designer will automatically bring up the conversion window for you.


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