Updated for 2020! This post is an update to my years-old article at Medium. It’s refreshed to include Cricut Design Space users!
Computers are weird, am I right? Sometimes they want to open up files with the strangest programs. One that I see come up a lot is SVG files, which are graphics … but Windows computers want to open them up with a web browser. The SVG files will even have a browser icon (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) on them.
So what’s going on? Well, Windows likes to associate one program with one file type, so it’s always ready to open the appropriate program when you double-click on a file. Almost every time, Windows has a built-in program that can handle any type of file (though you can change that using this guide). SVG files, which are now used a lot for vector graphics in cutting machines, actually started out as a web file format. So Windows still figures, “Heck, guess we’ll just say the default web browser will handle that.” Then Windows dusts off its hands and pats itself on the back for a job well done. Which is great if you’re using SVG files on the web, but not so great if you’d like to use them in a vector design program or cutting machine program.
What we need to do is go in and tell Windows exactly what program we want it to associate with SVG files. You can make this any program you want: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Inkscape, Silhouette Studio, Cricut Design Space, or one of dozens of other graphics programs that can handle SVG files.
Here’s an example of what some folks see when they open up a folder full of design files. The “Type” column shows that this folder contains DXF, EPS, PNG … and HTML files. But what you can’t really tell from this view is that the HTML file in this screenshot is actually an SVG file!
THE QUICK AND EASY FIX
The simplest way to fix this issue is to turn on file extensions, so you can truly see the file type on each of these.
It’s an easy two-click process. First, click on the “View” tab at the top, and then go over and tick the box next to “File name extensions” so that a checkmark appears. It’s that easy! Now you can see that the SVG file isn’t just called “Sample-File” — now it’s called “Sample-File.svg.”
However, the computer is still thinking that the file is an HTML document. We can fix that too!
Right-click on the SVG file, and you’ll get the pop-up menu on the left. Hover your mouse over “Open with,” and you’ll get the flyout menu on the right. Your computer will give you a few options for programs it thinks you’ll want to open this file type with, including every web browser you have installed. (Yeah, I have four browsers. Deal with it.)
From here, go to the bottom of that flyout and click on “Choose another app.”
You’ll then get this window, with an even larger list of options. Scroll down to the bottom of that list, and you’ll see a blue “More apps” link. Click that sucker.
This gives you an even larger list of possible programs, but neither Silhouette Studio nor Cricut Design Space will be in there. You’ll need to dig even deeper to find those. Scroll to the bottom of this larger list of programs, and click on the blue “Look for another app on this PC” link at the bottom.
Now, the fun part: hunting for where Silhouette Studio and Cricut Design Space live:
FINDING SILHOUETTE STUDIO
You’ll need to find where Silhouette Studio’s EXE file is living on your computer. When you click on that “Look for another app on this PC” link, then click the big OK button, you’ll most likely be put into the C>Program Files folder.
From there, go into the Silhouette America folder, and then into the Silhouette Studio folder. This is where I found Silhouette Studio on my PC; the location of that EXE file on your computer may be different.
Click on the program, then click the “Open” button. Silhouette Studio should start up, and your computer will open your SVG file in a new artboard.
Minimize the program, then go back to your folder full of files.
Right-click on the SVG file again, and once again scroll down to “Open with,” hover over to get the flyout menu, and click on “Choose another app.”
Once you get in there, suddenly Silhouette Studio will be an option! Click on “Silhouette Studio.exe” so that it turns blue, and then check the box next to “Always use this app to open .svg files” and then click the big OK button.
Now, not only do you have the Silhouette logo as the icon for all SVG files on your computer, but it also finally shows “SVG File” instead of “Chrome HTML Document” in the “Type” column!
From now on, every time you double-click on an SVG file, it will trigger your computer to start up Silhouette Studio and open that double-clicked file on a new artboard.
FINDING CRICUT DESIGN SPACE
This is only possible now that Cricut Design Space is a standalone program installed on your computer; this didn’t work with the old web browser-based version. But be aware, this may not work for all Cricut users; apparently for some folks, the program file is hiding in a different place.
You’ll need to find where Cricut Design Space’s EXE file is living on your computer. When you click on that blue “Look for another app on this PC” link and then click the big OK button, you’ll most likely be put into the C>Program Files folder.
Not gonna lie — this one was tough to find! It’s hidden away pretty well. I had to back up to the root of my C drive, then move forward from there into:
Users > [your name] > AppData > Local > Programs > Cricut Design Space
(The [your name] part will vary; mine is “themi” because my user ID on my computer is “themissy”.)
From here, click on “Cricut Design Space.exe” and then click the “Open” button.
Your computer will start up the Cricut Design Space program, but it will not open up your selected SVG. This is because Cricut Design Space still has its own weird uploading system, so you can’t open a file in it the way you do with most other programs.
Now, minimize the Cricut Design Space program, and go back to your folder:
Once again, right-click on the SVG file, and hover your mouse over “Open with.” You’ll get the flyout menu that pops out to the right. You may see “Design Space Desktop Application” in there, and you may be tempted to click on that. But don’t do it! Instead, click on “Choose another app” at the bottom.
On the next menu, here’s where you’ll click on “Design Space Desktop Application.” The reason you had to go one menu farther is so that you can also tick the box next to “Always use this app to open .svg files.” So tick that box and click the OK button!
And lookie there! The SVG file now has the Cricut logo for its icon, and “SVG File” under the “Type” column.
Note: if you double-click on this SVG file, your computer will start up the Cricut Design Space program. But it won’t open the SVG file inside that program. You still have to click on Design Space’s “New Project” button, then use its “Upload” tool to open up this SVG in your workspace. I’m hoping in a future update, they’ll change how the program deals with files, so that it has an “Open” option like most other programs do. Fingers crossed!
If you regularly use a vector graphics program like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, or CorelDRAW, you can do this same thing! Both Illustrator and CorelDRAW should appear on that first “How do you want to open this file” screen, making them easy to select, then check the “Always use this app to open .svg files” box so your computer always knows to associate SVG files with that program. Inkscape is a little harder, especially if you use the portable app version. You may have to go hunting to find the folder where the portable app’s EXE file lives so you can select it, then you’ll need to go back in with “Open with” and “Choose another app.”
In fact, I’d suggest connecting SVG files to one of those programs instead of Cricut Design Space; Inkscape is a particularly good choice, since it’s a freebie! That way, you can create your designs fully in Inkscape (or another vector design program), save to SVG, and then just import them into Cricut Design Space for cutting. It would likely be faster and cleaner, since Cricut Design Space isn’t particularly good when it comes to creating designs.
Hopefully, you now have SVG files associated with just the right program on your computer! I hope this guide makes it much easier for you to organize your files and get crafting!