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Computer Basics for the Machine Embroiderer – Part 1

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Shopping for machine embroidery designs on the Internet can be somewhat frightening if you have never used a computer. Even after you have some experience, software updates and unexpected changes that occur in operating systems and Internet browsers can have you scratching your head again. Being a little familiar with the language and how to manage a few basic tasks can help.

Operating Systems

An operating system (OS) in technical terms is the main software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. Simply said, it runs your computer. You would most likely have a Mac OS or a Windows OS pre-installed, which helps you install the apps and programs of your choice. The OS also opens apps and programs that you have installed, such as embroidery design software that is required to open, view and edit embroidery design files.

Whether you have a Mac OS or a Windows OS, you can purchase and download embroidery design files to your computer. All computers will save and store downloaded files. However, the OS will not open files unless an associated program has been installed. If you do not have an embroidery design software program installed, you will not be able to open and view a design on your computer, but the design file can be copied to the device that runs your machine, such as a USB drive, and then the software in your machine will read the file from the USB drive and stitch out the design.

Internet Browser & Downloading Files

The Internet browser is the program that allows you to view web pages, shop and download files. Computers come with an Internet browser pre-installed, such as Safari on a Mac. Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 come pre-installed with Microsoft Edge, and earlier versions of Windows are pre-installed with Internet Explorer. You can also install a different Internet browser to one that fits your personal needs better, such as Opera, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Each browser program has the same purpose, but they also have differences when downloading files. Basically, you click on the download button or link on the download page and some browsers will automatically download and save the file on your computer, while others will ask whether you want to open or save the file. When given the option, it is advised to first save embroidery design files to your computer so that the file will be accessible later without connecting to the Internet.

File Formats

Each machine brand requires a specific format which is recognizable by the last three digits after the dot in the filename, also known as the “extension”, as seen in this image that shows one design inside a folder converted to seven different machine formats. If you do not see the extensions at the end of the filename, your computer might be set to hide the file types; and if so, adjust the folder view to “Details” which will reveal the format under the column for “Type”.

Some machines have the ability to understand more than one format, but many do not. For example the Tajima machine understands a DST format (written as filename.DST) but a Tajima does not recognize a PES (written as filename.PES) which is native to Baby Lock and Brother machines; whereas, many Husqvarna machines models will understand several formats, including HUS, VIP and VP3. You should download the format that is native to your machine. If you are unsure of which format to download for your machine, you’ll find that information in your machine manual, the manufacturer’s web site or you can also contact our Customer Service at and we can help you determine the correct format.

There are some formats, such as Bernina ART or Brother/Baby Lock PES that have been created in different versions due to software upgrades throughout the years. You may occasionally find a conflict, as seen in this image when trying to open a more recent PES version 5 in an older program, Melco Sizer, that doesn’t understand the PES format higher than version 4, or a message similar such as “Data Missing” or “Corrupt File”. When your machine or software doesn’t understand or recognize a file, even though it appears to be the correct format, the problem can usually be resolved by converting the file again to a more compatible version of the format.


The format cannot be converted from one format to another by renaming the filename to end with your preferred format letters. The filename before the dot can be renamed, but changing or eliminating the extension that follows the dot will make the file unreadable. The format can, however, be converted from one machine format to another by opening the design file of any format in an embroidery design software program, such as BuzzExplore or Embrilliance Essentials, and then saving it to the format that you need.

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