Cut, Copy & Paste Tools

Parent page: Commands

The CircuitMaker logo being copied and pasted from another PCB, into the PCB currently open in the PCB editor.


Manipulating and editing design content is a daily task for a PCB designer, with commands such as Cut, Copy and Paste being a standard and often-used part of their editing toolkit. That means these commands must be easily accessible and behave in a precise and predicable manner. Supporting these requirements for precision and predictability, when a Cut or Copy is performed the PCB editor prompts for a reference location, ensuring the content can be precisely placed when it is Pasted. As per standard software editing behavior, objects targeted for a Cut or Copy action must be selected first.

The PCB editor is a layered design environment, with many objects being placed on a specific layer. Single layer objects that are cut or copied are always pasted back onto the same layer, as the layer setting is a property of the object. To learn how to paste onto a different layer, read the Pasting the Clipboard Contents onto Another Layer section.


Cut, Copy and Paste commands are available via:

  • Home | Clipboard | in both the PCB and the PCB Library editor.
  • The standard shortcut keys, Ctrl+X (Cut), Ctrl+C (Copy), Crl+V (Paste).

The Cut and Copy commands put the selected content onto the CircuitMaker clipboard, and the Paste command takes the last cut/copied content from the clipboard and places it into the active workspace. The Cut and Copy buttons on the Ribbon become available when there are objects selected in the workspace, the Paste button becomes available once something has been cut or copied to the clipboard.

Putting Content onto the Clipboard

After launching the Cut or Copy command, the cursor will change to a crosshair and you will be prompted to select a reference point. This is a location relative to the selected object(s), and is used to accurately position the selection when using the Paste command. It is important to choose a location that helps you accurately position the pasted objects. There are 2 ways a reference location can be chosen:

  1. The default behavior is that the cursor is locked to the snap grid, so when you click the reference point it will also be on-grid.
  2. Alternatively, when you hover the mouse over an electrical object, such as a pad center, a via center, or the end of a track segment, the cursor will instead pull to the hotspot of that object. This snap-to point is known as the object hotspot, and it overrides the workspace snap grid whenever the cursor is within the defined range of the object hotspot. Use this feature to choose a meaningful selection reference point. Keep in mind that when you paste, the selection set will be pasted with the reference point (which was that object's hotspot) on the snap grid.

Once you have identified a suitable reference location and have positioned the cursor as required, click or press Enter - the selection will be copied to the clipboard. It can the be pasted back into the same PCB workspace, into another PCB design, into the PCB Library editor, or into another Windows application.

To temporarily disable the object hotspot feature during a copy or a paste, hold the Ctrl key down. The cursor will then be constrained by the current snap grid.

Refer to the Grids and Units page to learn more about the configuring the snap grid and the object hotspot range.

Getting Content off the Clipboard

The current clipboard content can be pasted into an open PCB or a PCB Library. As well as the Paste button (Home | Clipboard | ), you can also use the Ctrl+V shortcut to paste the latest clipboard contents into the current workspace.

The content will appear floating on the cursor held at the reference point that was chosen during the cut/copy action, as shown in the image below. The content can be positioned using the mouse. Alternatively, press the arrow keys on the keyboard to step in increments of the grid, hold Shift to step in increments of 10 x grid.

Copied content being pasted back into the PCB editor, floating on the cursor ready to be correctly position. The reference point for the objects floating on the cursor is the center of the pad.
Note also the international symbols, these have been defined as part of a font so are being placed as a string. 

Each of the special symbols shown in the image above are placed as a character in a font. The font is called Mooretronics and was created by one of the CircuitMaker Makers, Darren Moore. It can be downloaded from this forum thread, check that you are downloading the last-attached copy, as Darren has added new symbols over time.

The Clipboard Behavior

The clipboard supports a variety of data formats, depending on the origin, object type, and target pasting environment. Supported data types include:

  • Any design object copied or cut from a schematic/schematic library or PCB/PCB library document, can be pasted back into another document, of the same document-type.
  • Unicode text copied or cut from any text-based document (e.g. text file, Microsoft Word/Excel document, etc).

Note that the clipboard content is not persistent across design sessions, all content will be cleared when the software is closed and restarted.

Pasting the Clipboard Contents onto Another Layer

When PCB design objects have been copied and are pasted back into the PCB editor, they are pasted onto the same layer that the source objects were copied from, regardless of which layer is currently set as the active layer in the editor.

To change the layer of the copied objects, you need to:

  • Paste them into the workspace,
  • Select the pasted objects,
  • Open the PCB Inspector panel. The total number of selected objects will be detailed at the bottom of the panel.
  • Use the Layer drop-down to choose the required layer, as soon as you choose it, the layer of all the objects will change.

A collection of 214 objects have been pasted, and the Inspector panel is being used to change the layer of all objects, from the Top Layer to the Bottom Layer.




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