Movement Tools

Parent page: Commands

The PCB editor includes a variety of movement tools to help you efficiently develop the board design.

Summary

Printed circuit board design is a highly detailed and precise process, objects are placed carefully to fulfill their mechanical and electronic requirements. To help with this the PCB editor includes a variety of movement commands and behaviors. Unless it is locked, any object can be moved by simply clicking and dragging. To move multiple objects they must be selected first, so the software knows which objects need to be moved.

All object movement is constrained to the current Snap Grid, refer to the Grids and Units page for more information on setting and working with the Snap Grid.

Details

As well as moving objects directly with the mouse, specific movement commands are available by clicking Tools | Arrange | , a summary of each is given in the table below.

General notes on moving objects:

  • Click and hold the mouse button to move a single object, the object will be held either by:
    • its reference point for a single reference point object such as a pad, via or component,
    • or a vertex, for a track or polygonal-shaped object.
  • Single objects are moved on the current snap grid, for multiple objects the location where the selection set is held will be on the current snap grid.
  • Click and hold requires the mouse button to be held down, holding the mouse button down is not required if you use a Move menu command. The advantage of using a Move command is that arrow keys can then be used to accurately move the object(s) in single grid increments. You can then hold Shift to step in 10 x grid increments.
  • A set of selected objects can also be moved using the click and hold technique, depending on which kind of object in the selection set is clicked on. When multiple objects are moved using click and hold, the cursor will jump to the nearest grid point and then begin to move the selection set, note that this held point may not be an object reference point. If positioning is critical, it is better to use the Move Selection command described below, as you can move the cursor around until it snaps to an object reference point, such as the center of a pad, which then becomes the point where the set of objects is held by. In fact it can help to place a temporary pad or via to help with the precise relocation of a set of selected objects.
  • A set of selected tracks cannot be moved using the click and hold technique, in this situation the Move Selection command must be used (unless there is a non-track object in the selection set to click and hold on).
  • If multiple objects are moved, their position relative to each other is maintained.

The default behavior is to snap to the object's reference point whenever you click and hold to move an object. This can be disabled by turning off the Snap to Center option in the PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog.

Interactive Behavior while Moving Objects

The following commands are available while one or more objects are being moved:

  • Press Tab to open the object's properties dialog (if only one object being moved).
  • Press Spacebar to rotate the object(s) anti-clockwise about the movement reference point, or Shift + Spacebar for clockwise rotation. The default rotation increment is 90 degrees, this Rotation Step size can be changed in the PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog.
  • Press the X or Y key to flip the object(s) along the X or Y axes respectively.
  • If the object being moved is a component, press L to flip it to the other side of the board. Do not use X or Y to flip components, as the primitive objects within the component will not swap to appropriate bottom-side layers.
  • Press Esc to abort the current movement action.

Summary of the Movement Commands

Command Behavior
Move Object Move the chosen object. After launching the command the Status bar will prompt Move any Object, click to choose the object then move it to the required location. Note that this command does not consider the selection state of objects, it simply moves the chosen object.
Drag Move the chosen object and drag attached objects with it. After launching the command the Status bar will prompt Move any Object, click to choose the object then move it to the required location. Connected track segments will remain attached, the end on the moving object will move with the object, the other end of the segment(s) will remain where it was. Note that tracks connected to a component will only drag if the Comp Drag option is set to Connected Tracks (PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog). This option is discussed in more detail below.
Component Move the chosen component. After launching the command the Status bar will prompt Moving Component, click to choose the object then move it to the required location. How the connected tracks behave depends on the setting of the Comp Drag option in the PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog. This is discussed in more detail below.
Re-Route Re-route the chosen track segment. After launching the command the Status bar prompts to Choose a Track, when you click on a track segment, you effectively break that segment into 2, move the cursor to position the new vertex where these 2 segments join. After placing the vertex, you will be positioning another vertex to fix the ends of 2 more segments, and so on. Right-click (or Esc) to stop rerouting this route, do this a second time to drop out of the command.
Break Track Break an existing segment into 2 segments. This command behaves the same as the Re-route command, except it does not repeat. After launching the command the Status bar prompts to Choose a Track, when you click on a track segment a vertex is added at the click location, move the mouse to position the vertex. Those segments will be released and the cross-hair cursor remains, indicating that you are still in Break Track mode, continue to break other tracks or right-click (or Esc) to terminate the command. Note that this behavior can also be achieved interactively in the workspace, without launching this command, simply click once to select a track segment, then click and hold on the center vertex to break the track. Position as required.  
Drag Track End Move an existing vertex (track end) to a new location. After launching the command the Status bar prompts to Move any Object, click anywhere on a track segment and the cursor will jump to the nearest end of that segment, which will then move with the cursor. Position the cursor in the required location and click to place.
Move / Resize Tracks Freely move the end of a track segment. After launching the command the Status bar prompts to Choose Track End Point, click anywhere on a track segment and the cursor will jump to the nearest end of that segment, attaching it to the cursor. Move the cursor to move that end point and click to place. This behavior, where you can freely move the end of a single track segment, can also be achieved by clicking once to select a segment, then clicking and holding on an end vertext to freely move it.
Move Selection Move selected objects. After launching this command the Status bar will prompt to Move Selection. Click anywhere within the workspace to hold the selection set at that point, then move the mouse to move the selection set to a new location. Note that the click that defines the hold point for the selection set will automatically be on grid, unless you hover the mouse so that it snaps to an object hotspot (reference point), such as the center of a pad.
Move Selection by X, Y Move the selected objects by a user-defined offset. After launching this command the Get X /Y Offsets dialog will open, enter the required offset values and click OK to move the selection set by that amount.
Rotate Selection Rotate the selected objects by a user-defined rotation angle. After launching this command the Rotation Angle dialog will open, enter the required rotation in degrees and click OK. The Status bar will prompt to Select Reference Point, the selection set will rotate about the point where you click.
Flip Selection Flip the selection set from the current side of the board to the other side. The selection set will be flipped along the X axis as if it were a single object, with the overall bounding rectangle of the set remaining in the same X, Y location in the workspace. Each object that is on a layer with a logical pair will be flipped and moved to the paired layer. For example, Top Layer objects flip to Bottom Layer, Top Solder to Bottom Solder, and the same for mechanical layers that have been defined as layer pairs.
Move Polygon Vertices Interactively move the vertices of a polygon. After launching the command the Status bar will first prompt to Choose a Polygon, after clicking on a polygon to choose it, the Status bar will then prompt to click to select a Handle (vertex) or an Edge. Note that this editing state can also be achieved by clicking once to select a polygon. There is more information about editing a polygonal-shaped object below.
Region Vertices Interactively move the vertices of a solid region. After launching the command the Status bar will first prompt to Choose a Region, after clicking on a region to choose it, the Status bar will then prompt to click to select a Handle (vertex) or an Edge. Note that this editing state can also be achieved by clicking once to select a region. There is more information about editing a polygonal-shaped object below.

Moving Components

Like any object, a component can be moved by simply clicking holding. Alternatively, use the Component command from the Move menu.

How the Component is Held

Component footprints are typically designed with their origin (reference point) either at the geometric center of the component, or the center of pad 1. During the component placement phase of the board design, it may be preferable to position the component based on pad 1, or perhaps a different pad. To enable this behavior, enable the Smart Component Snap option in the PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog. When this option is enabled, instead of jumping to the reference point, the software will include pad centers as potential holding points and jump to the nearest point (reference point or pad center) when you click and hold. Position the cursor close to the pad you want to hold by, then click and hold.

Configure the Object Snap Options in the Preferences dialog.

How Connected Tracks Behave

The default behavior for tracks that are connected to a component is to not move the track ends when a component is moved. It is possible to drag the track ends with the moving component, by setting the Comp Drag option to Connected Tracks (PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog). Dragging is not the default behavior when moving, to move a component and drag the connected track ends, use the Drag or Component commands from the Move menu.

Moving Track/Line Segments

Like any other object, track segments can be moved. To move a track segment and:

  • Maintain attachment to the connected segments - click and hold on the segment, then commence moving.
  • Move the segment away from the connected segments - click once to select the segment, then click, hold and move the segment.

Note that the software does not attempt to maintain 90/45 degree placement of track objects or prevent potential design rule violations while moving a component and dragging tracks. For this reason it is often more efficient to reroute a section of routing, rather than drag it. Refer to the Interactive Routing page for more information on rerouting.

Moving Polygonal Object Vertices

Main article: Editing a Polygonal-Shaped Object

This method of editing allows you to select any placed polygonal-shaped object directly in the workspace and change its size and/or shape, graphically. All polygonal objects, including polygons, regions and 3D body objects, share the same graphical editing techniques.

The basic approach to editing a polygonal-shaped object is:

  • Click once to select the object — editing handles (vertices) will appear at each corner, as well as a handle at the center of each straight or curved edge.
  • Click and hold on a handle to move it, note that there are 3 modification modes; Miter, Incurvate and Move. The current mode is displayed on the Status bar and in the Heads Up Display, press Shift+Spacebar to cycle through the modes.
  • To move an edge of the polygonal object, click and hold anywhere along the edge then slide it to the required location.
  • Use the green alignment guides to align edges vertically, horizontally or at 45 degrees.
  • To insert a new handle along an edge, hold Ctrl, position the cursor anywhere along the edge (a new handle will appear), click and hold the mouse button to add the handle, then move the mouse to position the handle.
  • To remove a handle, hold Ctrl, hover the cursor over the handle (a small cross will appear if that handle can be removed), click and hold briefly until the handle disappears.
  • To move an entire polygon or solid region, click and hold then move the polygonal object.

To learn more about editing polygonal objects, refer to the article Editing a Polygonal-Shaped Object.

 

 

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