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Adding Vias in Eagle (The Easy Way)

A quick and easy way to add vias to your board layout in Eagle

There are a number of time-saving features in Cadsoft's Eagle that can make working with it quicker and easier (which is one of the main advantages of working with mature software products). Unfortunately, some of these features and shortcuts aren't very well known. One good example is laying out vias in Eagle, a task that takes up a good portion of the time involved in laying out any PCB. Many people spend months making vias the hard way before realising that there's actually a better way to do it (or, at least we did!).

The Classic Method

The approach most people take when getting started with vias is usually some variation on the following:
  1. Lay out the first part of your trace with the Route tool Route Icon
  2. Switch to the Via tool Via Icon
  3. Adjust the via settings if necessary
    Via Properties
  4. Place the via in the appropriate location
  5. Right-click on the via and set the via's Name to be the same as the original trace (otherwise you can't connect them)
  6. Connect the via and the original trace (now that they have the same name)
  7. Switch back to the Route tool and add another trace on the target board layer.
  8. Stir, shake, and a repeat ad nauseum.

It works, and this is exactly what we did when we first started out with Eagle, but there's a quicker (if slightly less obvious) way to do it.

The Lazy Method

  1. Lay out the first part of your trace as usual with the Route tool Route Icon, adding both the start and end of the trace (1 click each), and terminating the trace exactly where you would like the via to occur
  2. Rather than switching to the Via tool, move the mouse directly to the layer selection dropdown in the top left corner (ignoring the trace that will follow your mouse cursor)
    Layer Selector
  3. Select the layer you wish the other half of your via to be located on ("16 Bottom" for example if you started on "1 Top")
  4. Draw the second part of your trace on the other layer and "presto" Eagle will automatically add the via for you
  5. Note: You may need to adjust the Via settings once to set the size and shape you'd like to use, but once modified these settings will be used for all new vias.

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