KiCad library problems


I’ve been using KICAD for over a year, but am far from proficient. Library management issues are my major issue.

Specifically, setting paths for the libraries and the environmental variables available, and how to use them…there seems to be no way to edit what you’ve setup once you do it, and it survives even after a delete and reload of the SW.

I really don’t want to do anything fancy, just have a place that’s available to all projects, and a second place for parts and footprints of parts I create. My setup is likely really screwed up, and I’ve no ideas how to setup the environment for all the crap KICAD uses…

I can’t seem to find all the parts I’ve used in previous projects when I start a new project. Occasionally, I do some cleanup, which causes more problems…I tend to delete stuff I don’t think I need, like cache and bak files, which cause more problems.

Any advice on how to setup the system so it’s EASY to use???


Hi @cursader,

Library management is a weak part of KiCAD and you’re not alone in finding some things unclear.

The system I use is what works for me. I don’t change the default KiCAD environment variables as I think they’re only used for parts that KiCAD pulls from the Github repository. I simply have one directory where I keep all my own parts and add them to every project using the library wizard. For ease of use, this is one big library for schematic symbols and one big .pretty library of footprints.

I also have my own source code versioning server (subversion) that I use to backup all my projects, including the cache files but not the BAK files. When sending others my projects files, I can simply include the cache files so they don’t have to have access to my parts library.

I’m sure the KiCAD parts management system will see some changes in the future.

Hope this helps,


It helps some, but I probably screwed up by trying to change some environment variables and/or locations for the files…so damn frustrating…the SW is so inconsistant.

I’d love to save some stuff and start over, but the last tyime I tried that, after the re-[install, nothing had changed.


What operating system are you running KiCad on? It stores application data in different locations and will intentionally persist application re-installs.


Hi @crusader27529,

You did not mention what machine you are using. I found the kicad_common to hold the definitions of the environment variables. This is possibly why these values stay alive after a re-install.

Mac, (I have not checked, but I would look for a similar file under the following)
/Library or $HOME/Library/


WIN10, unfortunately…


So, what’s the appropriate thing to do with kicad_common? Is it re-created when kicad is started or when it’s installed?

In order to start from scratch(I have the stuff I created copied and saved, I think), what sequence should I use?


Those are real questions :slight_smile:
I have not actually touched directory or those files yet.
I was thinking that you could simply remove (move out of the way) the directory and let KiCad recreate it on start up. That should get you back to the default for an initial install.

… Just now, on my Windows 10, I renamed the kicad directory to X_kicad. Sure enough, everything was reset back to default… including the paths and the files were re-created.


It’s weird to bump people off this forum, but these kinds of questions are usually best fulfilled on our sister forum:

People there have had lots of similar issues with the software.