Defining PCB Editor Layer Color Preferences for Altium Designer

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The PCB Editor - Layer Colors page of the Preferences dialog.


The PCB Editor – Layer Colors page of the Preferences dialog provides controls to change the colors used for all supported board layers and system objects, associated with viewing a board in 2D. Quickly change the color of a chosen layer, or all layers, on-the-fly. Alternatively, define a color profile – determining the colors assigned to each and every layer. Color profiles can be saved and loaded and enable the quick application of favorite/desired color schemes.

The colors defined here are reflected in, and can also be defined through, the 2D System Colors dialog, accessed through the View Configurations dialog, when viewing a board in 2D.


The PCB Editor – Layer Colors page is part of the main Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences) and is accessed by clicking the Layer Colors entry under the PCB Editor folder, in the left-hand pane of the dialog.


  • Saved Color Profiles - lists the names of the currently saved color profiles. Click on an entry to 'activate it'. This allows you to view the colors configured for the layers in that profile, in the Active color profile region of the dialog, and make any changes as required.
Note that clicking OK will use the selected color profile, but if you have made any changes to layer colors for that profile, and want to use them beyond the current editing session, you must save those changes using the Save color profile or Save As color profile links in the Actions region.
2D color settings are system-based. All PCB documents will use the active 2D color profile.
  • Location of saved profile - shows the file path of a saved 2D color profile. Hover the cursor over an entry in the Saved Color Profiles list to see the path here.
  • Explore Folder - click to open the folder in which the saved color profiles are located.
  • Actions – this region presents various commands for working with color profiles at the file level (*.PCBSysColors):
    • Save color profile – click to save any changes made to layer colors for the currently selected color profile.
    • Save As color profile – click to access the Save Color Profile As dialog, from where you can save the currently selected color profile as a distinct, new profile, with a different name. The newly saved color profile will be added to the list of saved color profiles.
    • Load color profile – click to access the Load Color Profile File dialog, from where you can browse to, and open a color profile file (*.PCBSysColors). The chosen color profile will be added to the list of saved color profiles.
    • Rename color profile – click to access the Rename Color Profile dialog, from where you can specify a new name for the profile as required.
    • Remove color profile – click to remove the selected color profile. A confirmation dialog will appear, click No to simply remove the profile from the saved color profiles list. Click Yes if you want to also remove the color profile file from the hard disk.
The default color profiles are system profiles and, as such, cannot be removed. Only user-defined color profiles can be removed.
If you make any changes to your 2D color settings and want to keep them, save the color profile before closing the dialog.

Active color profile

This region of the dialog provides the option and controls to configure the layer colors for the active color profile - the profile currently selected in the Saved Color Profiles list.

  • Layers - lists, by name, all supported board layers, as well as system layers. For each layer in the list, its currently assigned color is displayed in the color swatch to the right. To change the color for a layer, simply select it in the list, then use the controls to the right to choose a new color.
The list of layers reflects those presented on the Board Layers And Colors tab of the View Configurations dialog.
  • Color Chooser - the region to the right of the layers list offers the same controls as those found in the standard Choose Color dialog, when setting colors elsewhere in the software. Three tabs are available, essentially giving you simple and advanced modes for choosing the required layer color:
    • Basic - this tab provides a flat listing of colors.
    • Standard - this tab provides a hexagonal color chooser filled with popular colors, as well as controls for quickly choosing black, white, or various shades of grey.
    • Custom - this tab provides advanced controls for getting that exact shade of color required. Use the main color area to drag the crosshair to the 'ball park' color required, then use the vertical slider bar to the right, to fine-tune the shade. Use the Color model drop-down field to choose between two color models, either RGB (Red, Green, Blue) or HSL (Hue, Saturation, Liminance). The fields below update as you change the color controls above. Alternatively, enter the values for Red/Hue, Green/Sat, and Blue/Lum directly.
  • Previous - shows the previous color used for the selected layer.
The previous color will only remain displayed while the layer is still selected. If you click to another layer and back again, it will simply reflect the current layer color.
  • Current - shows the new color chosen for the layer. This color will be applied during the current editing session with the software (if simply clicking OK), and/or will be committed to the color profile, if that profile is saved.
  • Custom Colors - this area allows you to store up to 16 custom colors, which is useful if you have finally reached a required color through the color choosing controls, and want to effectively 'save' that color for reuse. Clicking on any of the cutom color swatches will quickly assign its color as the current layer color.
    • Add to Custom Colors - use this button to add the currently chosen color to the custom colors palette.
Ensure the correct swatch to receive the color is selected on the custom color palette, to prevent overwriting an existing custom color that you wish to keep.


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