5 Ways to Customize Altium Designer for Better Efficiency

January 19, 2017 Chris Carlson

Workflow that works well for PCB designers abstract example


The Altium Designer environment is designed to be very intuitive, but even slight customization of the interface can greatly enhance the efficiency of your PCB design workflow. Once you have been using Altium Designer for a while, you'll find the toolbar menu structure to be very intuitive. However, you may realize even more productivity gains with customization of the user interface. 


Customization is centric to each editor whether it's the PCB, schematic or any other editor within the Altium Designer environment. Whichever editor you are working in, the same approach may be taken in any of the other platform editors. And it's a LOT easier than you might think.




Five Ways to Customize Altium Designer

Customization of the Altium Designer editors is accomplished through the Customizing Editor which is specific to each of the editor domains. The specific editor to be customized must be the active open editor. The Customizing Editor is accessed from the top toolbar DXP >> Customize. Alternatively, you can double-click in the open area of the toolbars.


Access the Customizing Editor via the dropdown menu or by Double Clicking in the Open Area of the Toolbars.


There are five areas within the Altium Designer environment where customization can help enhance your workflow, including:


1: Shortcut Keys

It is often useful to map the shortcut keys of the editor to features which may be more intuitive to the individual. Each feature of the PCB editor which can be assigned to a shortcut key is available on the drop-down menu.


2: Menu Bar Items

The menu bar items may also be customized in the Altium Designer environment. Opening the Customizing PCB Editor allows dragging and dropping menu bar items from one menu to another or removing them altogether.


3: Toolbar Icons

The toolbar icons in the Altium Designer environment are a quick way of accessing commonly used features of the tool and may also be customized. The toolbar graphic, as well as the function evoked through the icon, is available for editing.


4: Dropdown Menus

Custom drop-down menus can also be added to the Altium Designer Environment. Various items may be dragged onto this new drop down menu such as components from the Libraries Panel and other toolbar menu items.


5: New Toolbars

The toolbars in Altium Designer are groupings of iconic command buttons and drop down menus that can be rearranged as you see fit. Once a new blank toolbar has been created, drop-down menus, icon menu commands, and other objects may be added by simply dragging items to the blank toolbar.


Enhance Your Design Experience with a Customized Workflow

It’s very simple to customize Altium Designer to add valuable optimization to your user experience. Any features that you feel are lacking in Altium Designer can be written with custom scripts and assigned to newly created menu items, shortcut keys, and toolbar icons. If ever the toolbars become disorganized or menu items are lost, the Restore button is always available to reset the Altium Designer toolbars back to their factory default.

Looking for new ways to boost your productivity in Altium Designer? Download our free white paper Five Ways to Customize Altium Designer for Better Efficiency today. Or try Altium's easy to use PCB design software today.


About the Author

Chris Carlson

Sr. Field Application Engineer Chris Carlson came to Altium in August of 2007 and brings with him his background in power electronics, data acquisition, and controls. Chris earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in 1993 and has worked as a design engineer in the Bio-Medical, Industrial Controls, Motor Drive, and Defense industries.

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