This is your last lesson in the Software Basics series. Give yourself a cheer! You’re well on your way to becoming a Silhouette expert. Since you’re going to be creating some amazing things, let’s talk about saving those files. You can save in 1 of 3 ways to 1 of 2 general locations. Let’s talk about the hows and whys of each. (To start with Lesson 1 of the Software Basics series, go here.)
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I receive a small commission. You pay the same price. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. I will always be honest about my opinion of any product.
3 ways to Save
This is the generic way to start saving. It saves the whole page you are working on, so everything you see on the screen, even if it’s off to the side of the mat area.
For files you have not yet saved anywhere, the software opens your default saving location (more on that below). You name the file, click OK and it’s saved. Unless you are using Business Edition, the only choices you have as far as the type of file you save as are .studio3 or .studio. The former is the default and is what you should use. The latter is the file format that was used up through version 2 of the software and that’s so long ago you don’t need it anymore.
Just to satisfy your curiosity, with Business Edition you can save as SVG, JPG, GSP or PDF. However, there are restrictions on parts of the file that are images purchased from the Silhouette Design Store. This is to protect designers from folks passing off the designer’s creations as their own. If you decide to purchase Business Edition at any point, you can then read up on how this works.
If you have previously saved the file, Save saves it to the same location with the same name.
To use this option, you can use–
- File>Save drop down menu
- Save icon
- Keyboard shortcut CTRL+s (Windows) or CMD+s (Mac)
Save As means you are going to save the current file with a new name or to a new location (remember that we’ll talk about locations further down). If you’ve not saved it previously, it basically does the same as Save.
For example, let’s say you make a design for a football jersey with your son’s name and number. Then a friend asks you to make one for her with her son’s info. Rather than starting from scratch, you can open the file you made and saved already. She mentions grandma and grandpa may want one, so you want to save the new file. BUT you don’t want to save over the file with your son’s number, because his super cool aunt who comes to all the games might love one for her birthday next month. So with Save As, you can give it a new name and keep your original file intact.
When might you want to save to a different location? Let’s say you loved those jerseys so much that you wanted to create a birthday card for your son with those name and number elements. I like to have different folders for HTV projects and cards. So I open the jersey file from my HTV folder, resize those elements for the card, maybe add a birthday message with my sketch pens. When I’m done designing and cutting the card, I do Save As to save it to the cards folder on my computer. That leaves the jersey file intact.
To choose to save this way, use–
- File>Save As drop down menu
- Keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+s (Windows) or CMD+SHIFT+s (Mac)
This is the option to use when you want to save part of what’s on your screen but not all. Let’s say you made a Christmas card and for that you created a Christmas tree with your drawing tools. You may want to save the card as a whole project on your hard drive, but also save the tree to the library in case you want to use it on a different card next year. While the project is open, you can click on the tree and do Save Selection to save just that 1 piece.
To save this way, use–
- File>Save Selection drop down menu
2 places to save
There are basically 2 different places you can save a file – your hard drive on your computer or your library in your software. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each.
Saving to the hard drive
I like to use this option for full projects. For example, I make a shirt with Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) and I use a flower design from one designer, a butterfly from another and a phrase I type with my text tool. I resize it to fit a toddler-sized t-shirt and mirror my image, which I always need to do with regular HTV. That’s a project ready for cutting. I would save the full project to the hard drive on my computer.
When you choose this option, the software opens the folder structure on your computer. It opens to the last folder used. If you want to save it in a different folder, you’ll navigate to that one. Type the file name and press OK to save.
As I stated above, I like to have different folders for different projects on my hard drive. I know some folks who save absolutely everything to the desktop on their computer. That’s not very efficient in the long run.
Here’s what I’ve done. I created a folder in the Documents area of my Windows computer that I called Paper Crafts. Under that folder, I have created subfolders for 3D Crafts, cards, home décor, HTV projects, scrapbook pages, wedding, etc. Then in the cards folder I have subfolders for birthday, general, thank you, etc. See how it works? That helps me find what I’m looking for pretty quickly.
Pros to storing on your hard drive
- It’s saved outside your software. If you ever get a library corruption or something happens to the images stored in your cloud, you still have your images somewhere.
- You don’t fill up your library with projects full of lots of parts or that you won’t use in a different project. That makes the software run faster when you’re scrolling in the library also.
Cons to storing on your hard drive
- If this is the only place you save and you don’t back up your computer periodically, in the event of a computer crash you will lose it all.
Saving to the library
Hopefully, you’ve read my post about the library. If not, read that so this lesson makes more sense.
This is the option I use for individual pieces. For example, if I create a pumpkin shape I know that I will likely use it on multiple projects. If I do it correctly, this makes it easy to find the next time I want to use it.
For this option, I always fill my shape with a color. If I don’t, it’s harder to see what it is when I’m scrolling through the library. What it looks like on your screen is what it looks like in the library.
When you choose this option, the library opens in a small box over your design area.
Notice that the User Designs folder is highlighted in gray. That’s where the file saves if you do nothing else. To save to a different folder in the library, scroll through and select one. (Don’t forget that you can add new folders to organize your designs.)
Now look in the bottom left of the box that’s open. You’ll see Untitled-#.
That’s where you can name the design. The area should be highlighted so that you can just begin typing. If not, click at the end of the Untitled-# and backspace out those letters. Type the name you want to give it and click OK. The file is now saved in the library in that folder. Here’s my pumpkin–
The software will also sync that to your cloud account so that it’s saved there as well as long as you are online. If you are working offline, the sync happens the next time you work online. If you don’t want it saved in your cloud storage, you can save it locally only (I’ll cover that below).
Keywords and properties
You can stop at that point, or you can do something else that will help you find the image more easily. It won’t seem like a big deal when you are just starting out and your library is small. But when you get to 13,000+ images like I have, it’s nice to be able to search for images in ways besides just the title of the design. Cuz let’s face it — you aren’t always going to remember what you name files. That’s where keywords and properties come in.
Open the library again (it closes when you click OK), navigate to the folder where you saved the image and right click on it. In that menu, choose Show Properties. A dialog box opens that shows you all about the image – name, description, artist, category and keywords.
Right now, nothing is in there but the filename. But you can add it all. Once you do, you can then use those as search helpers.
- Name – If you don’t like the name you gave the file, change it here.
- Description – Use this to add any additional information other than the defaults. Did you create a phrase and then weld it to an image? (Don’t worry if you don’t know yet what that means.) Type the name of the font here, because once you weld it’s an image instead of text so you can no longer identify what that font is. Did you create a rhinestone design? Put in here the number and sizes you’d need to make the project. Look at the descriptions of images in the Silhouette Design Store to get ideas about what you can include here.
- Artist – For something you created, put your name here. If you’ve purchased a design elsewhere and are saving it to your library, put the name of the artist or company here.
- Category – This is the file type and will default to General. If it’s something else, click the arrow to open the drop down menu and select the type.
- Keywords – This is where you can put secondary descriptive words. I named my file “Pumpkin” but added the keywords fall, vegetable, garden, leaf and commercial. That last one helps me remember that I have the right to use this on items I sell, since I created it from scratch. To add a keyword, press the “+,” type the word and hit Enter. To remove a keyword, click on it to select it and then click the “-”.
Once you’ve got it all, click Save. Now try searching in you library using the file name, artist name or one of your key words. The information you put in the description bar does not show up in a search, so think about what you put where.
Local or cloud?
Within the library, you can choose to store images in the cloud storage (shared) or locally.
Storing in the Cloud
The cloud is the new, intangible way of saving digital information. Before, we always saved to our computers, external hard drives, memory sticks, etc. But all those things have the possibility of breaking and losing our data. Plus, it takes up memory if we keep everything on them and they take up room in our homes.
Enter the cloud. This is a way of having someone else save things for you – to be your back up. The companies who offer cloud storage have lots of computers with lots of memory and lots of fail-safes. In other words, they don’t have children who knock over a cup of coffee on your laptop and fry the whole thing so that you lose all your photos and budget spreadsheets.
When you save a file to your library, it will be saved to your cloud storage by default. You’ll notice that my pumpkin file has a green check mark with circling arrows under it in the library. That indicates that it is stored in the cloud.
Some people freak out when they hear about the cloud because they don’t understand it, but it’s safe. Think of it as making copies of all your printed out photographs and renting a storage unit to store them in. That way, if your basement floods and ruins all your photos you have extra copies. You have the key to the lock and you have control over what you put in there. Yes, the storage facility might flood, but it’s doubtful it and your house will at the same time.
Things to understand about Silhouette Cloud storage
- Anything you create or purchase somewhere besides the Silhouette Design Store and want to save to the library, you can keep either locally or in the cloud. You don’t have to store them in the cloud. It’s totally up to you.
- The cloud allows you to keep your library the same on different devices. No more running back and forth between your laptop and your desktop with a memory stick. You can save a file to the library on your computer and then cut it from the Silhouette Go app. You can have your library on up to 5 devices.
- When you open your software and are working online, your library syncs. To sync means the software matches what you have on your computer to how your library looks on its servers. You want all your devices to have the same files and folders on them and all your purchased images to download. Each time your library syncs, it does that. In other words, it pulls what you saved or purchased on your laptop yesterday into the library on your desktop today.
- To access designs in your library, you do not need to be connected to the internet. You only need to be online to purchase images or sync.
- Each user in the library has their own cloud storage.
- Each user gets 2gb of cloud storage. If you have a subscription to the Silhouette Design Store or are a member of Club Silhouette, you get 5gb.
- Designs you purchase from the Silhouette Design Store are stored on Silhouette America’s servers and can’t be moved to local storage. That’s why the symbol under them in the library is a blue lock with the sync arrows. This doesn’t take up any of your designated cloud storage room.
- The free designs that came with your machine are stored locally and can’t be moved to cloud storage. They have that locked symbol also.
This is how you store images you create yourself that you don’t want to save to the cloud. Honestly, I don’t have any idea why you wouldn’t want the security of that cloud back up. But since you are limited in cloud space, you might need to. Put things here that you would be okay losing – images you know you have used within a project, designs you aren’t sure you’ll ever use again but just might, etc.
To change one of your designs from storing in the cloud to storing locally, hover over it in the library and right click on it. In that menu, click on Local to change it to storing locally only.
The software will make sure this is what you want to do by letting you know that design won’t be backed up in the cloud.
Click Make Local Only to change it. If you don’t want the software to ask you that every time, you can check the box by Don’t show this message again. Designs saved locally only are designated with a gray “x” in the sync symbol.
You can switch these files back and forth between local and cloud storage whenever you like. And when your library syncs on any given device, it matches the changes you made the last time you were working with your library online.
Pros to storing in the library
- You can see the image in your library when you’re scrolling.
- You can easily search within the library for images.
- It’s backed up in case you ever have a computer crash. You can always get back images you’ve purchased from Silhouette because they are automatically in your cloud. But recovering your original creations is what we’re talking about here.
- You can access your design from multiple computers and devices, as long as they have Silhouette Studio loaded and you have added yourself as a user in the library. There is a limit to how many devices you can have your library on at once.
Cons to storing in the library
- If you only save locally in your library and have a computer crash or library corruption, you’ve lost those images.
- If something happens to Silhouette’s cloud servers and your cloud library is the only place you’ve saved them, those images are gone. This is actually a low percentage chance — much lower than your own computer crashing.
- Your cloud storage space is limited.
- Saving entire projects to the library makes them really hard to see in the library because the thumbnails are small.
- The number of files in your library can affect the speed with which the software opens.
Best practice for saving
In order to really protect yourself from losing any designs you spend hours creating, I suggest several layers of backup.
- Save full projects to your hard drive & back up your hard drive, either on an external hard drive or to something like Dropbox. That way if anything ever happens to your software library or your cloud storage, you still can retrieve things you’ve made.
- Save individual images to the cloud area of your library. That way if anything happens to your hard drive, external hard drive or Dropbox account, you can still get those pieces back.
- Periodically back up your library onto an external hard drive. Do that by hovering over a user name in the library, right clicking and selecting Library Export. NOTE: This saves the library as a whole, not individual designs. What that means is that you can’t pull just a single design out of the backup. You can only import the library folder as a whole file.
Setting the default save location
Once you start creating and saving files, you will find a system that works well for you. You can set up either the hard drive or the library as the default saving location. You’ll do that in the Preferences.
To open your Preferences, click on the gear icon in the lower right of the software. Once the dialog box opens, it will be on the first tab called General. Look at the second option – Default Save Location. Set the one you want (if you do nothing, it will be set on Hard Drive). Then click OK at the bottom. Starting with the next file you open, when you click Save on the file for the first time the default location you chose will be the dialog box that opens.
If you’ve worked with computers at all before, you are aware of AutoSave. This is a feature where as you are working, the software periodically saves the file for you in temporary memory. That way if your laptop battery dies, or the software crashes for any reason, you can still get back the file you were working with.
When this happens, the next time you open the software you will see a Recovered Documents panel on the right. All files you had open when the software quit unexpectedly are listed there. You can open each one and see if it’s something you need to save. Then make sure to choose in the panel to discard the file. That won’t discard what you’ve just saved – only the temporary file it autosaved for you.
The AutoSave happens on set intervals as you are working in Silhouette Studio. That means you may have made some changes between the time it last saved and when it crashes so you may lose some of the changes to your file. You can’t turn AutoSave off or change the time interval at which it saves.
Here’s the key thing to know about AutoSave. Notice above that I said the software saves the file in temporary memory. That means any documents you have open and any documents in that Recovered Documents panel are taking up memory. Files with photos or fill patterns take a great deal of memory. If your software or cutting is sluggish this could be a reason, depending on your computer. So it’s a good practice to keep the Recovered Documents panel cleaned up (deal with it each time you open the software if it’s there).
Okay, let’s say you’ve finished working and are ready to shut things down. There are several steps to this part of the process.
Closing a Document
If you want to close just the file you are working on and not the whole program, you can–
- Click the “x” at the end of the file name in the tab
- Use the File>Close tab drop down menu
- Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+w (Windows) or CMD+w (Mac)
If you have not yet saved the file in its current state, the software will check with you with Do you want to save changes to <file name>?. Click yes to save, no to not save, cancel to go back to working on the file.
Closing the program
When you are ready to close the whole program, you can do that with–
- The “X” in the extreme upper right corner (Windows) or the red dot in the extreme upper left (Mac)
- File>Quit drop down menu
- Keyboard shortcut CTRL+q (Windows) or CMD+q (Mac)
Again, if there is any file you have not saved in its current state, the software will prompt you to do so.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of the software, the next step is to learn more about cut settings and different types of designs. I HIGHLY recommend my Successful Beginner Projects series. These are 10 simple projects with cardstock and vinyl that take you step by step through learning more about your machine. And they use some of the simple, free shapes that come with your machine. Each project gives you a new technique to learn and master. If you’ll go through these first, you’ll save yourself lots of time, $ and frustration. Then you can go on to other materials. Be sure to check the list of posts here so you see what lessons are available.
Leave a Reply