Altium Tips and Tricks

At work I decided to make a list of Altium tips and tricks for people who are new to the awkward legacy cluster that is Altium. I figured I might as well put it here as well. I’ll continue to add to it as I think of more useful things.

PCB Layout

  • Press the “~” key while routing to open up a useful menu
  • Press “Shift+w” while routing to open a quick width change menu
  • Press Tab while routing to open a useful menu
  • Click on a trace and click Tab to select the whole strand in that layer, Tab again to select the strand including other layers
  • PCB inspector: useful side panel for setting properties of one or multiple components at the same time, go the View->Workspace Panels->PCB->PCB Inspector
  • To select a bunch of objects of similar type, use the “Find Similar Objects..” option in the right click menu
  • Use the “L” key to switch between layers while routing (only if you can go to another layers without using a via (like from a throughole).
  • Use the “+” and “-” keys to switch between layers using a via
  • “Shift+s” cycles between single layer mode
  • “Ctrl+m” brings up a measuring tool that does not act like an object
  • To route multiple connections at the same time, shift click all the starting points (pads or tracks) and select the “Interactively Route Multiple Connections” button to start routing
  • “Ctrl+left click” highlights objects of the same net


  • Hold down ctrl while moving something to avoid carrying wires around with it


  • For complicated board shapes, instead of manually drawing out a Polygon Pour, just select the border of your PCB (should be a keepout line) and go to Tools->Convert->Create Polygon from Selected Primitives. This will create a polygon on the current layer, which you then can select and define to your needs.
  • Copy and paste is weird in Altium, to copy, select the thing, use ctr+c (you should then see crosshairs on your mouse), then left click in open space
  • Usually it is easier to draw a board shape with the line and arc tools first, then convert it into a board: first draw the shape (preferably in the Keepout layer) then select all the primitives making up the shape, then go to Design->Board Shape->Define from selected objects
  • While routing you sometimes want to use multiple vias to go between layers, Altium will sometimes delete these vias, to prevent this just right click on a trace with the same net and go to the Net Actions->Properties… option, then in the pop-up menu, de-check the “Remove Loops” box.

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