OLE Object

Now reading version 1.0. For the latest, read: OLE Object for version 4

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.


Parent Page: PCB Design Objects

A placed sequence of OLE objects – image, spreadsheet cells and word document text (top to bottom).
A placed sequence of OLE objects – image, spreadsheet cells and word document text (top to bottom).


Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology in the PCB editor allows data supplied by Windows OLE applications to be embedded in a PCB design while actively linked back to the source application. In many cases, this allows the embedded PCB data to be edited from within the application that created it.

Typical OLE objects that might be placed in a PCB document include common Excel documents, Word documents or graphics objects from a suitable OLE image application. The supported file types include universal formats such as CSV and XLS format spreadsheets, DOC and RTF word documents, and BMP image files.

Availability and Placement

OLE objects are available for placement/embedding in the PCB Editor in one of the following ways:

  • Choose Place » Object From File from the main menus.
  • Right-click in the workspace then choose Place » Object From File from the context menu.

Choose the desired file from the Choose File dialog then click to place the object in the workspace. 

Altium’s Smart Paste capability also allows a selection in an OLE application to be copied and pasted (Edit » Paste) into the PCB document as an OLE object. The text paste option (Edit » Paste Text) can be used to strip the text elements from an OLE object if required. These will be placed as PCB text objects. 

Graphical Editing

Once placed, embedded objects can be proportionally scaled by dragging on their selection handles. With text-based objects such as Word and Excel documents, the embedded text is automatically scaled in size and thickness to suit the new dimensions.

Non-Graphical Editing

Editing Via the Properties Panel

Properties page:  OLE Object Properties

This method of editing uses the associated Properties panel mode to modify the properties of an OLE Object.

The OLE Object mode of the Properties panel 
The OLE Object mode of the Properties panel

During placement, the panel can be accessed by pressing the Tab key.

To access the properties of a placed OLE Object:

  • Double-click anywhere on the OLE Object.
  • Right-click on the OLE Object then select Properties from the context menu.
  • If the Properties panel is already active, click anywhere on the OLE Object to select it.
Press Ctrl+Q to toggle the units of measurement currently used in the panel between metric (mm) and imperial (mil). This only affects the display of measurements in the panel, it does not change the measurement unit specified for the board - this is configured in the Units setting in the Properties panel when there are no objects selected in the editing workspace.
Use the Edit data button to open the object for editing in its matching OLE application. When the file is saved in the application, you will be able to pass the change on to the embedded object on the PCB by clicking the Save button that appears back in the Properties panel. If you would rather discard the change, click the Cancel button instead. The change will still be evident in the object, but not passed to the instance on the PCB.
When editing a embedded OLE spreadsheet object (CSV, XLS, etc.,) in its source application, note that while the cell contents can be successfully updated, a change in the number of cells will not transfer to the OLE object in Altium.

Editing Multiple objects

The Properties panel supports editing multiple objects, where the property settings that are identical in all currently selected objects may be modified. When multiples of the same object type are selected manually, via the Find Similar Objects dialog or through a Filter or List panel, a Properties panel field entry that is not shown as an asterisk (*) may be edited for all selected objects.

Editing via a List Panel

Panel pages: PCB List, PCBLIB List

List panel allows you to display design objects from one or more documents in tabular format, enabling quick inspection and modification of object attributes. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering, it enables the display of just those objects falling under the scope of the active filter – allowing you to target and edit multiple design objects with greater accuracy and efficiency.


  • An OLE Object also can be converted to a collection of free primitive objects using the Tools » Convert » Explode OLE Object To Free Primitives command. This will break the object into appropriate Regions and/or Text objects.
  • A convert to free primitives option is also offered if the matching OLE application cannot be found when attempting to edit an OLE Object.
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