Most editing commands are available in the menu, but definitely key-bindings and Mouse actions are the most effective way to build and arrange schematics, so you should learn at least the most important ones.

The basic principle in XSCHEM is that first you select something in the circuit then you decide what to do with the selection. For example, if you need to change an object property you first select it (mouse click) and then you press the edit property ('q') key. It you need to move together multiple objects you select them (by area or using multiple mouse clicks with the Shift key), then you press the move ('m') key.


This list is available in XSCHEM in the Help menu

                        XSCHEM MOUSE BINDINGS
LeftButton              Clear selection and select a graphic object 
                        (line, rectangle, symbol, wire)
                        if clicking on blank area: clear selection

shift + LeftButton      Select without clearing previous selection

ctrl + LeftButton       if an 'url' or 'tclcommand' property is defined on 
                        selected instance open the url or execute the 

LeftButton drag         Select objects by area, clearing previous selection

shift + LeftButton drag Select objects by area, without clearing 
                        previous selection

Ctrl + LeftButton drag  Select objects by area to perform a 
                        subsequent   'stretch'  move operation

Shift +                 Select objects by area without unselecting
Ctrl + LeftButton drag  to perform a subsequent   'stretch'  move operation

Shift + Right Button    Select all connected wires/labels/pins

Ctrl + Right Button     Select all connected wires/labels/pins, stopping at 
                        wire junctions

Mouse Wheel             Zoom in / out

MidButton drag          Pan viewable area

Alt + LeftButton        Unselect selected object

Alt + LeftButton drag  
                        Unselect objects by area

RightButton             Context menu

Shift + RightButton     Select object under the mouse and if label/pin
                        select attached nets

Ctrl + RightButton      Select object under the mouse and if label/pin
                        select attached nets up to net junctions

LeftButton Double click Terminate Polygon placement
                        Edit object attributes

                        XSCHEM KEY BINDINGS
-          BackSpace    Back to parent schematic
-          Delete       Delete selected objects
-          Insert       Insert element from library
-          Escape       Abort, redraw, unselect
ctrl       Enter        Confirm closing dialog boxes
-          Down         Move down
-          Left         Move right
-          Right        Move left
-          Up           Move up
ctrl       Left         Previous tab (if tabbed interface enabled)
ctrl       Right        Next tab (if tabbed interface enabled)
-           '\'         Toggle fullscreen
-           '!'         Break selected wires at any wire or component pin
-           ' '         Pan schematic
-           ' '         When drawing lines or wires toggle between 
                        manhattan H-V, manhattan V-H or oblique path.
-           '#'         Highlight components with duplicated name (refdes)
ctrl        '#'         Rename components with duplicated name (refdes)
-           '5'         View only probes
ctrl        '0-9'       set current layer (4 -13)
            '0'         set selected net or label to logic value '0'
            '1'         set selected net or label to logic value '1'
            '2'         set selected net or label to logic value 'X'
            '3'         set selected net or label to logic value 'Z'
            '4'         toggle selected net or label: 1->0, 0->1, X->X
-           'a'         Make symbol from pin list of current schematic
ctrl        'a'         Select all
shift       'A'         Toggle show netlist
-           'b'         Merge file
ctrl        'b'         Toggle show text in symbol
alt         'b'         Toggle show symbol details / only bounding boxes
-           'c'         Copy selected obj. 
ctrl        'c'         Save to clipboard
shift       'C'         Start arc placement
shift+ctrl  'C'         Start circle placement
alt         'C'         Toggle dim/brite background with rest of layers
shift       'D'         Delete files
ctrl        'e'         Back to parent schematic
-           'e'         Descend to schematic
alt         'e'         Edit selected schematic in a new window
            '\'         Toggle Full screen
shift       'F'         Flip
alt         'f'         Flip objects around their anchor points
ctrl        'f'         Find/select by substring or regexp
-           'f'         Full zoom
shift+ctrl  'F'         Zoom full selected elements
shift       'G'         Double snap factor
-           'g'         Half snap factor
ctrl        'g'         Set snap factor
alt         'g'         Hilight selected nets and send to gaw waveform viewer
-           'h'         Constrained horizontal move/copy of objects
alt         'h'         create symbol pins from schematic pins
ctrl        'h'         Follow http link or execute command (url, tclcommand properties)
shift       'H'         Attach net labels to selected instance
-           'i'         Descend to  symbol
alt         'i'         Edit selected symbol in a new window
alt+shift   'J'         Create labels with 'i' prefix from highlighted nets/pins
alt         'j'         Create labels without 'i' prefix from highlighted nets/pins
ctrl        'j'         Create ports from highlight nets
alt+ctrl    'j'         Print list of highlighted nets/pins with label expansion
shift       'J'         create xplot plot file for ngspice in simulation directory
                        (just type xplot in ngspice)
-           'j'         Print list of highlighted nets/pins
-           'k'         Hilight selected nets
ctrl+shift  'K'         highlight net passing through elements with 'propag' property set on pins
shift       'K'         Unhilight all nets
ctrl        'k'         Unhilight selected nets
alt         'k'         Select all nets attached to selected wire / label / pin.
-           'l'         Start line
ctrl        'l'         Make schematic view from selected symbol
alt+shift   'l'         add lab_wire.sym to schematic
alt         'l'         add lab_pin.sym to schematic
ctrl+shift  'o'         Load most recent schematic
ctrl        'o'         Load schematic
-           'm'         Move selected obj.
shift       'N'         Top level only netlist
-           'n'         Hierarchical Netlist
ctrl        'n'         New schematic
ctrl+shift  'N'         New symbol
alt         'n'         Empty schematic in new window
alt+shift   'N'         Empty symbol in new window
shift       'O'         Toggle Light / Dark colorscheme
ctrl        'o'         Load schematic
alt         'p'         Add symbol pin
ctrl        'p'         Pan schematic view
shift       'P'         Pan, other way to.
alt         'q'         Edit schematic file (dangerous!)
-           'q'         Edit prop
shift       'Q'         Edit prop with vim
ctrl+shift  'Q'         View prop
ctrl        'q'         Exit XSCHEM
alt         'r'         Rotate objects around their anchor points
shift       'R'         Rotate
-           'r'         Start rect
shift       'S'         Change element order
ctrl+shift  'S'         Save  as schematic
ctrl        's'         Save schematic
alt         's'         Reload current schematic from disk
ctrl+alt    's'         Save-as symbol
-           't'         Place text
alt         'u'         Align to current grid selected objects
shift       'U'         Redo
-           'u'         Undo
-           'v'         Constrained vertical move/copy of objects
ctrl        'v'         Paste from clipboard
shift       'V'         Toggle spice/vhdl/verilog netlist 
-           'w'         Place wire
ctrl        'w'         Place polygon. Operation ends by placing last point over first.
shift       'W'         Place wire, snapping to closest pin or net endpoint
ctrl        'x'         Cut into clipboard
-           'x'         New cad session
shift       'X'         Highlight discrepancies between object ports and attached nets
-           'y'         Toggle stretching wires
-           'z'         Zoom box
shift       'Z'         Zoom in
ctrl        'z'         Zoom out
-           '?'         Help
-           '&'         Join / break / collapse wires
shift       '*'         Postscript/pdf print
ctr+shift   '*'         Xpm/png print
alt+shift   '*'         Svg print
            '-'         dim colors
ctrl        '-'         Test mode: change line width
ctrl        '+'         Test mode: change line width
            '+'         brite colors
-           '_'         Toggle change line width
-           '%'         Toggle draw grid
ctrl        '='         Toggle fill rectangles
-           '$'         Toggle pixmap  saving
ctrl        '$'         Toggle use XCopyArea vs drawing primitives for drawing the screen
-           ':'         Toggle flat netlist


changes to default keybindings may be placed in the ~/.xschem file as in the following examples:

## replace Ctrl-d with Escape (so you won't kill the program :-))
set replace_key(Control-d) Escape
## swap w and W keybinds; Always specify Shift for capital letters
set replace_key(Shift-W) w
set replace_key(w) Shift-W


An important operation that deserves a special paragraph is the Stretch operation. There is frequently the need to move part of the circuit without breaking connections, for example to create more room for other circuitry or just to make it look better. The first thing to do is to drag a selection rectangle with the mouse holding down the Ctrl key, cutting wires we need to stretch:

After selection is done hit the move ('m') key. You will be able to move the selected part of the schematic keeping connected the wires crossing the selection rectangle:

In our example we needed to move up part of the circuit, the end result is shown in next picture. Multiple stretch rectangles can be set using the Shift key in addition to the Ctrl key after setting the first stretch area.


The (uppercase) 'W' bindkey allows to place a wire putting start (and end point, later) to the closest pin or wire endpoint, this will make it easier to connect precisely without the need to zoom in all times.


while creating wires, lines, and moving, stretching, copying objects, pressing the 'h' or 'v' keys will constrain the movement to a horizontal or vertical direction, respectively.

Constrained horizontal move: regardless of the mouse pointer Y position movement occurs on the X direction only.

Unconstrained move: objects follow the mouse pointer in X and Y direction.