Understanding File Type Extensions in Silhouette Studio

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Ever wonder what all those little letters at the end of a filename mean? Or which file types can be used in Silhouette Studio? Whether it’s a design format, a font, an image file, or an embroidery file, your software level and version determine whether or not you’ll be able open a file in Studio, as well as what can be done once (or IF) the file is imported.

Design Formats: Studio3, GSD, GST, DXF, SVG

Users of the free version of Silhouette Studio (Basic Edition) and above can open designs saved in Studio 3, GSD, GST, or DXF file formats. Each format includes cut lines and will not need to be traced (although the cut lines may need to be activated in Studio by selecting “Cut” or “Cut Edge” in the Send panel).

Studio/Studio 3 – the native file format for designs created in Silhouette Studio. This is also the file format for all designs in the Silhouette Design Store.

GSD/GST – formats used for files created in ROBO Master software; used with the older model Silhouette SD.

DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) – format designed for use with AutoCAD (Computer Assisted Drafting) software.

Import DXF


One of the biggest benefits from upgrading your Silhouette Studio software is the ability to import SVG files. In Designer Edition and above, SVG files can be opened and cut without any additional tracing. By default, most SVGs import with the cut lines turned off. The cut lines can be activated in the Send panel.

SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphic) – file format used among a variety of digital cutting machines. SVGs can be increased in size without losing quality. This file format is widely found in designs available for purchase from independent designers, the Silhouette Design Store, and free downloads.

Import SVG


Fonts: TTF vs. OTF

When downloading a font, you will often see two choices: TTF and OTF. Both are supported by all levels of Silhouette Studio, so how do you know which one to choose?

TTF (True Type Font) – the True Type font standard was developed in the late 1980s as a joint venture between Apple and Microsoft and is still very popular today. Most computer system fonts are True Type fonts, as well as many fonts available for purchase or free download. True Type fonts work on both Mac and Windows operating systems and are compatible with all printers.

OTF (Open Type Font) – Open Type fonts work on both Mac and Windows operating systems and are compatible with all printers, just like True Type fonts. However, with an Open Type font you have access to a larger character set, including special characters known as “glyphs”. For this reason, I recommend you choose the Open Type whenever possible. Silhouette Studio, Version 4.1, Designer Edition and above, makes it very easy to use these special characters. Here’s just one method:

  1. Click on the Text tool (left side of your screen) and click on the design page to insert a text cursor.

Silhouette Studio Text

  1. Open the Text Style panel (7th icon down in the column on the right of your screen).
  2. Click on the 2nd tab to open the Glyphs panel.
  3. Type the name of the font you wish to view (or use the scroll bar). The example shown is the Valentijn Romantic Font, available from The Hungry JPEG.


  1. All the characters included in the font will be displayed in the panel. In order to view one more closely, simply hover over it. The size of the display can be increased/decreased using the slider bar at the bottom of the panel.
  2. To insert a special character onto your design page, simply click on the image in the panel and the character will appear on the virtual mat in the same location where you placed the cursor.



Image Files: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIF, SVG, PDF, Ai, EPS, CDR

Image files can be used to create cut files in Silhouette Studio and are broken down into two categories – raster images and vector images. Both types can be imported into Silhouette Studio, depending on which level of software you own. The main difference is how each image type behaves when resized, which affects both print quality and their use in Silhouette Studio.

Raster images are made up of many tiny little squares (called pixels), each a different color.  The resulting image is measured in either dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch). The higher the number of dots/pixels per inch, the better the resolution of the image.  As you increase the size of a raster image, it becomes blurry and the edges become jagged and rough. Raster images do not include cut lines. In order to create a cut file, the image must be traced. These image types,  all of which are raster images, can be imported into any level of Silhouette Studio:

JPG (JPEG) – a common graphic file format used by digital cameras, standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group in 1992.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) – when you hear the word “GIF” (pronounced JIF, like the peanut butter), you probably think of animated images often sent via text or instant message, but the original GIF file format referred only to static images. It was introduced in 1987 as a way of reducing file size without a loss of quality. This format is best for simple graphics with limited colors and is often used for images displayed on the web.

PNG (Portable Networks Graphic) – the “ping” file format was introduced in 1996 as an improvement over GIFs. The biggest advantage of PNG files is their transparency. Most PNG files consist of an image placed on a transparent background, meaning that multiple images can be combined into one larger design. If you find that your PNG is NOT on a transparent background, the background can easily be removed by using the “Trace and Detach” function in Silhouette Studio.

BMP (Bitmap) – a commonly used format for saving image files. Because of their larger file size, bitmaps are most often used for printable images rather than web display.

TIF/TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) – this file format is used mostly in the printing and publishing area. The main purpose of a TIFF file is to maintain image quality, resulting in a larger file size. 

Vector images are created from a combination of lines, curves, and points, rather than individual pixels. They can be resized without any loss of quality and do not need to be traced in order to cut. Designer Edition and above allows for the import of vector images in SVG and PDF format.

SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphic) – (see Design Formats above)

PDF (Portable Document Format) – PDFs are actually a combination of formatted text, raster images, and vector images. The advantage of a PDF is that it will look the same no matter what program (Microsoft Word, Silhouette Studio, Adobe Acrobat, etc) is used to open it. When opening a PDF in Studio, you have the choice to import as grouped or ungrouped vector (cut lines included) or as an image (no cut lines). Resolution size can also be specified when importing a PDF as an image, by choosing an option ranging from 72dpi to 1200dpi from the dropdown menu.

Import PDF

Import PDF

Business Edition expands the use of vector-based images even further to include file formats associate with other drawing programs:

  • Ai, EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) – Adobe Illustrator
  • CDR – CorelDRAW

In addition to importing the various file types, users of Business Edition can also export files as SVGs, PDFs, or JPEGs in Version 4.1 and higher.


Embroidery Files: PES, DST, EXP, JEF, XXX

Designer Edition Plus and above gives you the ability to import embroidery designs into Studio. The placement lines included in a design can be used to cut fabric for machine applique or portions of the design can be converted into sketch files. The following file types, used for both home embroidery and commercial machines, can be used in Studio:

  • PES  – Babylock, Brother, Deco, Bernina home embroidery machines
  • DST – Tajima
  • EXP – Melco, Bravo, high-end Bernina
  • JEF – Janome, Elna, Kenmore
  • XXX – Singer, Compucon

If your embroidery machine uses a different format than one listed above, the file can be converted to an accepted format using an online conversion tool or embroidery software such as Embrilliance.


I hope you’ve found this information helpful and that you now have a better understanding of the different file types that are compatible with Silhouette Studio. Is there anything you’re still struggling with? Leave a comment below or message me on Facebook and I’ll try to help!

Until next time,




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  2. I have just gotten a new laptop, and had to re-install silhouette. It appears that it is an updated version (4.2) and I’ve noticed that none of my old fonts that I had downloaded are there. I have tried to re-install them, and can see them in my fonts folder (saved as true-type fonts) but when I open Silhouette Studio, I cannot find them. What am I doing wrong? HELP!

    1. Hi Cori! Are you on a Windows computer? Try this:
      1. Press the Windows and R Keys
      2. Type %localappdata% into the Run box
      3. Press Okay
      4. Open the Microsoft folder
      5. Open the Windows folder
      6. Open the Fonts folder
      7. Right-click on each font
      8. Select Install for ALL Users

      Hope that helps!

  3. Exactly the information I needed!! Thank you, now I know what will work in my newly purchased Business Edition. Amazing – well done!

    1. I’m so glad you found the information helpful, Irene. I know you’ll enjoy having Business Edition. It’s nice to have all the bells & whistles!

  4. Thank you so much for explaininng the file formats. I love learning how everthing works. This has helped a lot.
    I’m glad I found you.
    Thank you again!

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