Colors & Visibility Control

This documentation page references Altium NEXUS/NEXUS Client (part of the deployed NEXUS solution), which has been discontinued. All your PCB design, data management and collaboration needs can now be delivered by Altium Designer and a connected Altium 365 Workspace. Check out the FAQs page for more information.


The PCB editor can display the PCB document in 2D or 3D modes with definitions for layers, 3D colors, visibility and other items, known as view configurations, available from the View Configuration panel.

Display related settings are configured in the View Configuration panel.
Display related settings are configured in the View Configuration panel.

The View Configuration panel is used to configure what is currently displayed in the design space and how it is displayed. This includes layer visibility and color, object visibility and transparency, masking and dimming levels, the current single layer mode, and a number of additional design space display features, such as the display of net names on pads, via and tracks.

The panel is also used to add Mechanical Layers to the design using the right-click menu; an unlimited number of mechanical layers can be added. As well as mechanical layers, Component Layer Pairs can also be added to function as special-purpose Component Layers, such as component courtyards or glue dots.

To learn more about mechanical layers, visit the Working with Mechanical Layers.

Panel Access

The panel is accessed from the PCB editor in the following ways:

  • Click View » Panels » View Configuration.
  • Click the button at the bottom-right of the design space then select the View Configuration option.
  • Click the color swatch on the Layer Sets control at the bottom left of the design space.
  • Press the L shortcut key to open the panel with the Layers & Colors tab displayed.
  • Press the Ctrl+D shortcut keys to open the panel with the View Options tab displayed.

Content and Use

The panel content is divided into two tabs. Click on a tab at the top of the panel to display the options available on that tab:

  • Layers and Colors tab – includes options to control the visibility of available layers, and add, rename or delete mechanical layers.
  • View Options tab – includes options to select, save or load the Configuration of layer colors/visibility, configure the visibility of object-types, control the masking and dimming levels, and configure other display related options.

Within each tab, the content is arranged in collapsible sections that are opened and closed using the arrow icon associated with each section heading. The information included is arranged by matching sections and each collapsible section is opened/closed in the same manner. The options that are available will depend on the current Layout Mode.

Setting the Color

Each layer includes a small color button; click to display the color selector.

The panel includes:

  • A grid of 10 x 8 predefined color buttons. Click a button to select that color.
  • A Custom Color row of up to ten custom colors.

Custom colors can be defined by performing the following:

  • Click Define Custom Colors to expand the color palette to also display the Custom Color Palette.
  • Use the horizontal slider in the center of the Custom Color Palette to select a base color then click anywhere on the palette to brighten or darken that color.
  • Alternatively, enter the Hex or RGB values into the appropriate fields in the Custom Color Palette.
  • Click the Apply button to add the new color to the Custom Color row and apply that color to the layer being edited.

Displaying or Hiding a Layer

Each layer or system attribute (such as selections or DRC errors), can be displayed or hidden. Click the visibility icon () to toggle the visibility off and on.

Manage layer visibility using the visibility icons
Manage layer visibility using the visibility icons

Where appropriate, each group also includes a visibility icon (). For example, in the image above:

  • To the left of the string Component Layer Pairs (C) there is a visibility icon; click this to toggle the visibility of all component layers on/off.
  • To the left of the string Top there is a visibility icon; click this to show/hide all top side component layers. The Bottom side layers can also be displayed/hidden in the same way.

Controlling Visibility from the Keyboard

In a busy PCB design, layers are often toggled on and off during the design process. To help with this, layer visibility can be changed using keystrokes in the following way:

  • Press the L shortcut key to display/make the Layers & Colors tab of the View Configuration panel active. The panel's title bar will become colored indicating that it is the active element in the software.
  • Note that there are characters and numbers in curved brackets to the right of some of the layers and sets of layers, for example, Component Layer Pairs (C), and [1] Top (T). The character/number in curved brackets is a keyboard shortcut key. As an example, press the L shortcut to make the panel active, then press the T shortcut to toggle the visibility of the Top signal layer. 
  • If you have accessed a set of layers, press Spacebar to toggle the visibility of all layers in that set.
  • If you have accessed a layer, its visibility will toggle immediately and the Spacebar can then be used to toggle it again.
  • Press the Up or Down arrow keys to move up or down through the list, for example, to access a specific mechanical layer or a pair of component layers. You can then use the Spacebar to toggle the visibility of that layer/layer pair.
  • The number within the square brackets indicates which physical copper layer that signal or plane layer is, in the layer stack. Consider the string, [6] Bottom (B), the [6] indicates that this is the 6th copper layer in the layer stack, Bottom is the user-defined name assigned to this layer in the Layer Stack Manager, and the (B) is the shortcut key to toggle the visibility of that layer. 
  • Shortcut keys for signal and plane layers stop at (9), the last available numeric key on the keyboard.

Permanently Display a Layer in the Single Layer Mode Display

To include a layer in the Single Layer Mode display, perform a Ctrl+Click on the eye icon associated with the desired layer to add that layer into Single Layer Mode display; a square will appear behind the eye icon () to denote that layer will be permanently displayed in Single Layer Mode.

Layers & Colors Tab

View Options Tab

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