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Is Silhouette Studio Free to Use?

If you are new to the Silhouette brand of cutting machines, you may not know that Silhouette Studio is a Free Program. You can download it before you get your Silhouette if you want to get a head start on designing or just want to try out the software. In this article, I’ll talk about just some of the options available to you if you want to make the most out of Silhouette Studio.

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase through one of these links. There is no additional cost to you.

What is Silhouette Studio?

Silhouette Studio is the software that runs Silhouette Cameo, Cameo Plus and Pro Machines, Silhouette Portrait, and Silhouette Curio Machines.

You don’t need to have a Silhouette Machine to download and use the software. If you wanted to use it to print designs for sublimation or make printables. If you have another brand of machine and have the Business Edition of the software, you can make SVG files to export. I’ve even created some of my own scroll saw patterns in Silhouette Studio.

It is important to know that the Silhouette Studio Basic Edition software is completely free. The Silhouette America website, and also Swing Design both have the software available for download.

With the Silhouette Studio Basic Edition, you can create designs with fonts installed on your computer as well as the drawing tools in the software. You can also use designs that you purchase from the Silhouette Design Store. You may also use any file with a compatible extension.

What File Types Can I Use with the Basic Edition?

Files purchased or downloaded from the Silhouette Store are in the Studio format. This type of file can only be used in Silhouette Studio.

Other types of files that can be used with the Silhouette Standard Edition are:

  • PNG 
  • DXF
  • JPEG 
  • BMP
  • GIF
  • TIFF 
  • GSD 

Some of these file types are not really familiar to most people. If an artist offers the DXF or the PNG, these will be your best options for Silhouette Studio Standard Edition. When downloading or purchasing a file, be sure to check what file types are included.

What is a Silhouette Studio Upgrade?

Silhouette offers upgrades to its basic software. Each upgrade is a one-time charge. There is no need to download the software again, you simply enter the license key you receive and you’ll be able to start using your upgraded software.

You can upgrade to Designer Edition and later to Business Edition, or you can upgrade to Business all at once. Keep in mind that you need to purchase the correct upgrade if you go with the incremental route. There is a different key for going from Designer to Business than there is for going from Basic to Business.

Where is the best place to purchase the upgrade?

I’ve been very happy purchasing through Swing Design. I’ve purchased my Cameos, accessories, and upgrades there and have been very happy with the service.

When you purchase an upgrade from Swing Design you’ll get a credit for $100 in designs. If you would like to take a look at the Basic to Business Edition and what it includes take a look at Swing Design.

To apply your license key, click on your “Help” menu, then on “Apply Upgrade Edition”.

You’ll be prompted to sign in and enter the license key that you received in your email.

These optional upgrades include:

  • Designer Edition
  • Designer Plus Edition
  • Business Edition

Silhouette has a chart of what each upgrade has to offer along with price comparisons.

Each upgrade unlocks various features of the Silhouette Program. I first upgraded to the Designer Edition and later upgraded to the Business Edition. You can upgrade slowly or all at once. Whatever works for you. Some people choose to upgrade to Business Edition so they can save their own SVG files, or work with multiple cutters at one time. A font creator is even unlocked at the Business Edition level.

One of the advantages of the upgraded editions of Silhouette Studio is that you are able to open SVG files in the software. You also have easier access to font glyphs and special characters in Designer Edition and above.

As mentioned above, there are tools and features that unlock at each level. In the Designer Plus and Business Editions, you have the addition of Flexishapes which can save you lots of time when designing. The added features in these editions are beyond the scope of this post, but trust me when I say that Silhouette Studio is a very robust design program!

What is the Monthly Membership?

To be clear, there is no monthly fee to use your Silhouette.

There are two different memberships offered by Silhouette and both are optional.

Club Silhouette

For $9.99 per month, you may choose to sign up for Club Silhouette. The perks of Club Silhouette include:

  • 10% off most items at Silhouette America. Some exclusions apply.
  • Free shipping on all orders over $50
  • Club Silhouette Points for every $10 you spend at Silhouette America.
  • 10 exclusive digital designs each month  (issued on the 15th of every month)
  • Free blade (or Mint Stamp Kit) and mat (or Mint Stamp Sheet) right to your door 3 times per year
  • 5 GB of user-design space in your software library for syncing personal designs

I’ve never used Club Silhouette, but I can see where it might be advantageous to have new blades and mats shipped to you.

Silhouette Design Store

Find the Perfect Design in No Time at SilhouetteDesignStore.com

There are a few levels of Silhouette Design Store Membership. Remember this is completely optional.

These levels are:

  • Starter
  • Basic
  • Deluxe
  • Premium
  • Diamond

Memberships include a certain amount of credits for the Silhouette Design Store. One credit=$1.00 and credits are applied to your account monthly.

The plus side of the membership is that there are some amazing designers who offer their products. You won’t be disappointed with the selection.

I recently purchased this sticker pack from the Silhouette Design Store and was very happy with the color and designs. This design is the “Outdoorsy Summer Planner Stickers” by Sandi Idleman

Another recent project was this tote bag made from a Design Store file. This design is “Book with Flowers” by Michele Kae. I added text with the Amastery Script font from Creative Fabrica.

Earning More Designs with the Rewards Program

Silhouette puts a little fun into the program by offering a rewards program. You gain credits with all purchases, but with certain types of purchases, there are bonus credits applied.

For instance, if you purchase a certain number of designs from the travel category, you may get 10 bonus points. Each time you This is a great way to expand your design library.

When you meet certain achievement levels you also earn badges, which you can view in your account. While this may not be for everyone, I think it’s helped me to think about different categories and projects to explore.

Silhouette Design Store Badges

There are also Daily Deals, Weekly Steals, and Last Chance categories where you can pick up deeply discounted designs. You’ll want to be sure to check out the freebie section and the sales in the Design Store as well.

All plans include a 60-day rollover period. This is important to keep in mind because if you don’t use your credits they can expire.

Some designers offer the option of purchasing the SVG format in the design store. These can be downloaded to be used with other types of cutting machines. I own a Silhouette and a Cricut. With the SVG, I can also upload my purchased designs to Cricut Design Space.

Do You Have to Pay to Use Silhouette Studio?

I hope I’ve explained some of the options that are available for you if you purchase a Silhouette Cameo or other Silhouette machine. Yes, Silhouette Studio is Free.

You don’t need to have an upgraded edition to have a subscription to the Design Store, and you don’t need a subscription to the Design Store to purchase designs and fonts.

Are the upgraded editions worth the price? Certainly!

I’ve had Silhouette Business Edition for a long time and really enjoy being able to save my own SVG files and use the upgraded features. Free or upgraded, there is no doubt that Silhouette Studio is one of the best design programs I’ve used.

The Design Store is absolutely fabulous. If you make lots of projects and only get the starter or basic memberships, you’ll still be saving time and money. If you like fonts and want to get commercial use licenses for your designs, you may consider a membership with more credits.

The fact that you can filter and sort by favorite designers is also an absolute plus!

I have the “Basic Membership” for the Design Store and I think it’s very worth it.

Keep in mind, that membership is optional, but unlike other programs, you OWN the designs you purchase. They will still be your designs if you discontinue your Design Store Membership.

What are your thoughts?

Do you own a Silhouette? Have you upgraded your software beyond the basic edition?

Have you subscribed to the Design Store? Do you have any favorite artists?

Feel free to drop any questions or comments in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you. And as always, Have a wonderful day!

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