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How to Use Silhouette Studio Without a Machine (And Why You'd Want To!)

If you're wondering "Can I Use Silhouette Studio without a Silhouette Machine"..the answer is YES! 

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use the Silhouette software even if you don't have a machine..beginning with the inexpensive one-time price, large number of design features, ability to vectorize, option to print to any printer on the network, and file export options.   

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Whether you use a Cricut, a sublimation printer, a wide format ecosolvent printer like a Roland BN-20 or even a white toner printer you should consider the PC and Mac-friendly Silhouette Studio! 

Read on for how to use Silhouette Studio without a machine including how to set up the software and unlock the extra features.

Why Use Silhouette Studio Without a Machine? 

No doubt if you mention Silhouette Studio as a software program for graphic design or vectorizing you'll often get a "oh how cute" look (or a straight up laugh in your face).. but the truth is Silhouette Studio is not only extremely affordable (the absolute max you'll pay..ever... is $99.99), it's also one of the easiest programs to use to vectorize images and layout designs for printing or cutting!  

So who should consider using Silhouette Studio..even if they don't have a Silhouette machine? Anyone who wants to: 

How to Create a Silhouette America Account Without a Silhouette Machine 

You'll want to start by first creating a Silhouette America account. Go to the website and click the Account icon on the top right then create your account.  

The email and password you use will be your sign in on the site and for your Silhouette Studio cloud library which you'll create after downloading the free software. 

How to Download Free Silhouette Studio Software Without a Machine 

As I mentioned, anyone can download and use the basic Silhouette Studio for free.  It works on both a MAC and PC.  The Silhouette software can be downloaded by going to the page. 

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Most users decide eventually to purchase a one time paid upgrade for Silhouette Studio to unlock more features including the ability to export as an SVG, PNG, and JPEG.  

Who Should Upgrade to Silhouette Studio Business Edition? 

If you need the ability to export the file from Silhouette Studio as an SVG, PNG, JPEG or PDF you will want to upgrade to Silhouette Studio Business Edition.  This would include users who need to import into:
The ability to export in these formats is just one of the many features of Silhouette Studio Business Edition and the main reason those using Silhouette Studio without a Silhouette machine would need Business Edition.  The $99 upgrade is a one time fee and unlocks all features of the software.  You can checkout a full Silhouette Upgrade features list and comparison here.

If you purchase a software license upgrade you will take the 16 digital license key and enter it into the software.  Launch Silhouette Studio and then click the Help menu.  Select "Apply Upgrade Edition".  

You'll need to enter the email and password you used during the registration process here.

How to Use Silhouette Studio for Beginners: Where to Start

Once you have downloaded Silhouette Studio you can launch the software.  Without a Silhouette machine you'll be working almost exclusively in the Design and Library tabs. 

To get started with Silhouette Studio, here are a few things to know: 
  • You can import your own files into Silhouette Studio.  JPEG files will need to be traced to create cut lines (vectorize). PNG images with a transparent background will be auto-traced on import as long as the option is turned on in the settings. 
  • SVG files will import with the cut lines turned on, but can only be imported if you have Designer Edition or higher. 
  • The tracing tool is what you want to use to vectorize images including JPEGs or PNGs. It's on the right side bar. 
  • The Page Setup panel is where you will adjust your page size.  Change the "Machine" and "Cutting Mat" to None if you do not have a Silhouette cutting machine. 
  • If you are working with a wide format printer you will want to go to File > Print Page Setup and select the printer and material size first.  Then in the Silhouette Studio Page Setup panel you can select "Current Printer" to match the page size.
  • To add multiple designs to the same work area go to File > Merge
  • All of your fonts downloaded and installed on your computer will show up in the Text Style panel. New fonts download and installed with appear there after you re-start Silhouette Studio. 
  • To add a contour line or a bleed line you'll want to use the Offset tool.
  • To export a file go to File > Save As > Save to Hard Drive and select the file type. Remember, you will only have the ability to export as a PNG, JPEG, or SVG if you have Silhouette Studio Business Edition or higher. 
  • Silhouette Studio can not run any other cutter besides Silhouette Machines and Graphtec CE-Lite, but you can you do a whole lot of file prep and design work before exporting to your file format of choice.
To learn more about getting started in Silhouette Studio, including how some of the most common tools work, you check out this tutorial for Silhouette Studio beginners. 

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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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