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kicad 6 kicad 7 Download and Tutorial


KiCad is a free, open source electronic design automation (EDA) software suite used for printed circuit board (PCB) design. It features schematic capture, PCB layout, gerber file generation, and much more. KiCad supports Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.

In this comprehensive tutorial, we will cover:

  • A brief history of KiCad
  • Key features of KiCad
  • Downloading and installing KiCad
  • Creating a schematic and PCB in KiCad
    • Adding components
    • Connecting components and wiring
    • Designing the board outline and layers
    • Generating gerber and drill files
  • Tips and tricks for using KiCad effectively
  • FAQs

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to use KiCad 6 and 7 for all your PCB design needs. Let’s get started!

A Brief History of KiCad

KiCad schematic tutorial

KiCad was started in 1992 by Jean-Pierre Charras as a personal project while working at IUT Cachan electrical engineering department. The first versions of KiCad focused solely on board layout and routing.

Over the years, KiCad continued gaining new features like schematic capture, Gerber file output, and more. Jean-Pierre led the development until 2013 when the KiCad project entered a long maintenance period.

In 2015, CERN sponsored KiCad developers to add advanced features like hierarchical schematics and improve documentation. This led to the major KiCad 4.0 release in 2015.

KiCad continued improving with versions 5.0 and 5.1 released in 2017 and 2019. The latest releases are KiCad 6.0 in 2021 and KiCad 7.0 in 2022 with huge advancements like push and shove routing, differential pair routing, and more.

Today, KiCad has a thriving open source community with contributors worldwide. It has become one of the most popular EDA tools for hobbyists and professionals alike.

Key Features of KiCad

Here are some of the standout features that make KiCad a great choice for PCB design:

  • Cross-platform – KiCad runs natively on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Project files are compatible across platforms.
  • Hierarchical schematics – Large, complex schematics can be broken down into reusable sheets and blocks to simplify design.
  • Customizable layout – The PCB editor is highly configurable. Users can customize keyboard shortcuts, snap grids, trace widths, and more.
  • Advanced PCB editing – KiCad includes features like push and shove routing, differential pair routing, and length tuning to simplify board routing.
  • 3D visualization – PCBs can be viewed and inspected in 3D with renderings of components and pins. Great for design verification.
  • Flexible manufacturing outputs – KiCad can generate Gerber and drill files, schematic PDFs, BOMs, 3D models, and more.
  • Free and open source – KiCad is licensed under an open source GNU GPL v3 license. Users can access the source code to tweak and extend KiCad’s functionality.
  • Large component library – A huge library of schematic symbols and 3D models for common components. Users can also create custom components.
  • CLI tools – Command line tools are included for advanced tasks like scripting repetitive operations.
  • Customizable footprints – Footprint editor lets users create and modify component footprints to match datasheets.

With these features and many more, KiCad provides everything needed for professional PCB design. It’s no wonder KiCad has become so popular worldwide.

Downloading and Installing KiCad

KiCad is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. Here are the steps to download and install KiCad:

Windows Installation

  1. Go to and download the Windows installer under “Software Download”.
  2. Run the installer .exe file and follow the installation wizard. This will install KiCad and all its associated tools.
  3. The default installation options are fine for most users. Make sure to install the 3D models library for PCB visualization.
  4. Once installation completes, KiCad will be available from the Windows start menu.

macOS Installation

  1. Go to and download the macOS .dmg file under “Software Download”.
  2. Double click the .dmg file to open it, then drag the KiCad app icon into your Applications folder to install.
  3. Optionally, install the 3D models library for PCB visualization. This is available as a separate download.
  4. Launch KiCad from your Applications folder. It’s now installed and ready to use!

Linux Installation

KiCad is available in the package repositories for most Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, etc. It can be installed via the distribution’s package manager.

For example, on Ubuntu:

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sudo apt update sudo apt install kicad kicad-libraries kicad-footprints

On Fedora:

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sudo dnf install kicad kicad-libraries kicad-footprints

The kicad-libraries and kicad-footprints packages contain component symbols and footprints for KiCad.

That covers the basics of downloading and installing KiCad on the major operating systems. With KiCad installed, you are ready to start creating designs.

Creating a Schematic in KiCad

EasyEda to KiCad

The first step in any KiCad project is creating the schematic diagram. This represents the circuit connections between components. Here is a walkthrough of creating a simple schematic with KiCad:

  1. Launch KiCad and click File > New Project > New Project to start a new project.
  2. Enter a project name and file location to save the project. The default options are fine. Click OK.
  3. In the “Project specific properties” dialog, make any changes to the default design settings. For now we’ll use the defaults. Click OK.
  4. The KiCad main window will open with two tabs – Schematic and PCB Layout. Click the Schematic tab.
  5. In the schematic editor toolbar, click the “Add component” icon. This opens the component selector.
  6. Search for components you want to add, like resistors, capacitors, microcontrollers etc. Select a component and click OK to add it.
  7. Continue adding all needed components to the schematic. Press ‘R’ while hovering over a component to rotate it.
  8. To connect components, click the “Wire” tool to draw connection lines between component pins.
  9. Add power symbols from the component bar and connect them to pins as needed.
  10. Once the schematic is complete, click the PCB Layout tab to advance to the board layout stage.

This outlines the basics of creating a schematic in KiCad – adding components from the libraries, wiring them together, and connecting power. With the schematic ready, we can now layout the PCB.

Creating a PCB Layout in KiCad

After finishing the schematic, the next step is laying out the board outline, footprints, and routing copper traces between footprints. Here is an overview of designing a PCB layout with KiCad:

  1. In the PCB editor toolbar, change the layer to “Edge.Cuts” using the layer dropdown.
  2. Select the Add Graphic Line or Rectangle tool. Draw a rectangular or polygonal outline for the board perimeter.
  3. Switch to the F.Cu layer. This is the top copper layer for PCB traces.
  4. Using the Add Footprint tool, select footprints from the library and place them on the board. Arrange them sensibly.
  5. Inspect the Ratsnest lines. These show connections that need to be routed on the PCB.
  6. Begin routing traces between pins by selecting the Route Tracks tool. Click from pin to pin to complete each trace.
  7. For routed traces, click a completed track to add corner vias to other layers when needed.
  8. Use the Push and Shove router for difficult traces by selecting Route > Auto > Push and Shove Router.
  9. Complete routing all required electrical connections between components.
  10. Use the Design Rules Check to validate the PCB design meets specified electrical and clearance constraints.

With the board outline defined, footprints placed and traces routed, the PCB layout is now complete! We can now generate manufacturing output files.

Generating Manufacturing Output Files

The last step is generating Gerber and drill files needed to manufacture the designed PCB. Here are the steps to generate outputs with KiCad:

  1. With the PCB layout open, click File > Fabrication Outputs > Gerber Files.
  2. Select the layers needed for manufacturing. Most PCB fab houses will want copper layers, soldermask, legend, etc.
  3. Click the “Options” button to configure file output options like formatting. The defaults are usually fine.
  4. Click Generate to output the selected Gerber files. Give them distinct names denoting the layer.
  5. Next, click File > Fabrication Outputs > Drill Files. Select Excellon format and the PCB to generate a .drl drill file.
  6. If needed, also generate a BOM, Schematic PDF, 3D model, and other outputs for the design.
  7. The generated Gerber and drill files are now ready to send to your PCB manufacturer!

Following these steps, you can generate industry-standard Gerber and drill files from KiCad to get your boards fabricated.

Tips and Tricks in KiCad

Schematic Design in KiCAD
Schematic Design in KiCAD

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to use KiCad more efficiently:

  • Use hierarchical sheets to break large schematics into logical pages and blocks. Click “Add sheet” in the schematic editor.
  • Create schematic and PCB templates with your design preferences preconfigured. Set this up under Preferences.
  • Use the Library Table Manager to download and manage third party symbol and footprint libraries.
  • Assign components to groups using the same prefix or functional name. This keeps them visually grouped together.
  • Modify traces in the PCB with features like Fillet, Chamfer, and Delete Segment to cleanly edit tracks.
  • Run Design Rules Check often – this can identify issues early before they become problematic.
  • Customize your workspace by configuring keyboard shortcuts, grids, trace widths, etc under Preferences.
  • Use the 3D viewer to inspect clearance and visualize the PCB as you route.

Mastering these tips and tricks will help you become a KiCad power user able to model even complex designs with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about using KiCad:

Q: How do I create custom components in KiCad?

A: To create a custom component, use the Symbol Editor. Draw the schematic symbol, assign pins, and save it to your library. You can later edit the footprint separately in the Footprint Editor.

Q: How do I find ready-made components and libraries?

A: Many component libraries are available. The KiCad Library GitHub repo has 100k+ parts. Octopart and SnapEDA also offer KiCad libraries. Check for more.

Q: How can I contribute to KiCad development?

A: As an open source project, KiCad welcomes contributions on GitHub! Report bugs, improve docs, add library components, or work on KiCad’s C++ core. Join the community!

Q: What version of KiCad should I use – 6.x or 5.x?

A: KiCad 6.x is the latest version with exciting new features. However, 5.1 is also quite stable. Try KiCad 6.x for a new project. But 5.1 can work fine if you need stability.

Q: Is there a shortcut to auto-route traces in KiCad?

A: KiCad lacks an auto-router currently. You have to route traces manually. But Push & Shove router can help for difficult traces. Autorouting may be added in future KiCad versions.


In this comprehensive tutorial, we covered everything you need to know to start using KiCad for your PCB designs, including:

  • A brief history of KiCad
  • Key features like advanced PCB editing and customizable workflows
  • Downloading and installing KiCad on Windows, macOS and Linux
  • Step-by-step instructions for creating schematics and laying out PCBs
  • Generating manufacturing files like Gerber and drill files
  • Useful tips and tricks for boosting productivity
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

KiCad is an incredibly powerful, versatile tool for electronic design. With this tutorial under your belt, you have all the knowledge to take advantage of KiCad’s capabilities for your projects.

The KiCad community is welcoming and active worldwide. As you work with KiCad, explore the ecosystem of libraries, scripts, tools, and extensions created by users.

Happy designing with KiCad! Let us know if you have any other questions.




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