Mastering the Silhouette Studio software is essential to success with your Silhouette machine. In the Software Basics series, we will learn the software step by step. I suggest you go through each lesson in order to gain a thorough knowledge of Silhouette Studio. I’ll take you step by step in a logical progression. Don’t try to memorize everything — just get familiar with what the software looks like and does. If you have not yet gone through my Before You Begin Series, do that first starting here.
In this first lesson of Software Basics, we’ll cover the basics of opening the software and setting some preferences.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. All opinions expressed are my own and are not tied to any compensation.
Opening Silhouette Studio
If you are on a Windows computer, installing the Silhouette Studio software should place a shortcut on your desktop. If it does not, you may want to add one (I’m not going to go into that here, because there are many places online to help with that. We’re going to stick to strictly Silhouette stuff). Or, you can just start by going into your list of programs and selecting Silhouette Studio.
If you are on a Mac computer, you will see Silhouette Studio in your list of applications and will start from there.
As the software begins to open, you see what is called a splash screen.
This lets you know that the program is opening. The amount of time it takes to open the software depends on a number of factors. Just be patient until everything loads.
The first time you open the program, you are prompted to agree to a licensing statement. You need to agree in order to use the program.
If you are asked about registering your machine, you definitely want to do this either now or at a future time. Registering creates an account with Silhouette America and initiates the 1-year warranty on your machine. We’ll talk about the account more later, but you need one for purchasing physical products, getting images from the Silhouette Design Store, upgrading your software, etc. You may have already registered the machine, in which case you would not see this prompt. If you know you have not registered your machine and are not prompted, go to the Silhouette America website to create an account. After you have created an account, go to the Support area and click on “Register Your Machine” in the left-hand column.
The Design Area
Once you pass the license agreement and machine registration prompt, you see the software Design (Drawing) Area.This screen shot shows Business Edition, so you probably will not see all the same icons on your screen. That is perfectly normal. Look around to see what the software looks like.
Setting Up Preferences
The next thing I suggest doing is setting up some preferences. This is just tweaking some general software settings.
To access your preferences, you can–
–click on the gear icon in the lower right of the screen.
–go to the Edit drop down menu in the upper left (Windows) or the Silhouette Studio menu (Mac) and select “Preferences” at the bottom of that menu.
–use the keyboard shorcut CTRL+k (Windows) or CMD+k (Mac).
This will open a panel on the center of the screen.
Feel free to read through all the preferences. We’ll talk about some others later, but there are several I suggest you set right away.
General (first tab)
Here you can choose your preferred language and your unit of length preference (inches or metric).
Tools (5th tab)
This is an area pretty much everyone will need to visit. In the default settings, after using certain tools you have to click on another tool or icon to quit using the tool. For example, if you draw a circle, you will keep drawing circles over and over until you click on something else. If you zoom out, you have to click something else to keep from continuing to zoom out. Very few people like this, so you can change it.
The first section is called “Action After Tool Use.” In this section, there are options for what happens after creating a shape, after drawing freehand, after using the eraser or knife, after zooming. I suggest for now setting all to “Choose Select” instead of “Continue…” To change one, click on the arrow at the end of the option and select from the list that pops up.
Advanced (last tab)
Look in this section for “Include Cut Data.” The box is checked as the default. When this is on, the software saves cut data as it saves a file. This is ONLY needed when you are going to cut from an SD card or USB stick directly. If you are going to have your machine hooked to your computer with the USB cord, you can uncheck this box, as having it on can make the saving of files and generating of cut jobs go much slower. When I teach you to cut from a USB stick, I’ll be sure to remind you to turn it back on.
Once you have these preferences set, click on APPLY at the bottom of the panel to save the changes. They will stay in place until you change them.
Another thing you can choose a light or dark interface. The latter is easier on your eyes. In the same area in the lower right as the Preferences icon, there is another icon for setting the color theme. You can click on this icon to toggle through the 3 options.
When you have these things set up, you are ready to move on to Lesson 2: The icons.
I cannot find where I change the setting for mouse movements. It will not let me move to the edge of the cutting area. I recently upgraded to Design Plus. In the regular Design I could move shapes to any location on the mat. Now it will only let me move things in chunks. I’m sure I am not checking a box or something somewhere. Does this make sense? Thanks Patsy Davis
Cindy Eckhoff says
Hi Patsy. This is a very common question. In your page setup panel, look for the box beside “Snap to Grid” or “Snap to Guides.” One of those is checked . Uncheck it. When that is on, the shape only moves in relation to the grid or guidelines. The annoying thing is that if you pull out a guideline, it checks the box automatically. I cover this in more detail in Lesson 4 of the Software Basics series.