Is there any way to automatically place component designators in Altium such they are all visible and doesn't overlap other components?

A clear example is described here but it seems it is a separate piece of software you have to buy. Is there any built-in feature to achieve this?

What I want to achieve is this:

enter image description here enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Notice if your vias are not tented, you still have a problem. Your fab house will eliminate silkscreen from areas that don't have solder mask coverage, probably making R8, R13, R52, R75, FB7 unreadable. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jun 23 '13 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think there is any such software---but I hope someone will prove I'm wrong. The problem is that good designator placement is a matter of aesthetic judgement and knowing what will be clear to a human viewer, and computers are not very good at that. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jun 23 '13 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that even if software did exist to do this it would still need a PCB designer to go through each case and adjust thing that the software failed to comprehend and account for. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Jun 23 '13 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ BTW, despite the issue about putting the reference defignators where vias are located I would be pretty disappointed with the work of any board designer that did as bad of placing the designators as was done in your "After" example. That just looks slip shod to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Jun 23 '13 at 19:16

There's no way of doing this in Altium without writing a custom script. We've run into the same problem with placing designators on the Assembly layer so that they are all properly oriented.

The problem with your "After" photo is that it is not immediately clear which label corresponds to which component. It is far, far better to have the designators maintain the same spacing as the components. So if your components are placed 0.100" on center between each other, then your designators are also 0.100" on center. Your CM will thank you when they need to troubleshoot boards. I also recommend that you tent your vias, and use SMT test points on the critical nets to enable testing.


You can get similar result with Autoposition function. Just select all designators that should be to the right of a component and choose Autoposition - "Right center" in PCB Inspector. Also you can move designators above or below from component.


Select your components and go to edit → align → position component text.


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