What you MUST do BEFORE exporting your Silhouette Library V3.6 or earlier

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.

So far, I’ve avoided the Silhouette cloud by staying in my happy little pre-cloud V3 of Silhouette Studio. However, the new features in V4 are just too tantalizing to ignore, and the time is rapidly approaching when I should switch to using V4 in my tutorials for y’all. So, I’ve spent the last week or so jostling Silhouette software between two computers, experimenting to try and get my non-cloud library to play nice with V4. Right now, I’m straddling the two versions.

As part of that process, I loaded up the Silhouette Studio software onto a second computer, exported my library from the first computer, and then imported it into the second computer. Now…  exporting and importing a library is a simple process in V3:  File > Library > Export Library on the old computer, and then File > Library > Import on the new computer. Out of one, into the other, super easy. What I didn’t know is that there is something I should have done before exporting. And skipping that step mangled my library.

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.
How to find out which version of Silhouette Studio you're running.Before exporting your library V3.6 or earlier—whether for a regular backup or to prepare to update to a more recent version of the Studio software—you must reindex your library to make sure it’s properly cataloged. If you don’t reindex before exporting, you could find that your files have been renamed and reorganized after you import the library again, with nothing where it once was.

Here’s how to reindex the Silhouette Library V3.6 or earlier:

In Silhouette Studio…

  1. Go to the ‘Edit’ menu (PC) or ‘Silhouette Studio’ menu (Mac)
  2. Select ‘Preferences’
  3. Select ‘Advanced’
  4. Select ‘Reindex My Library

And that’s it. Your library has been reindexed and you’re ready to export.

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.Note that we’re talking about reindexing here and NOT about resetting. They are two totally different things. Do not mix them up.

When you RESET your library…you’re resetting the library back to the original software installation settings…in other words you end up with an empty library. Your design files are completely removed. They are lost and gone forever (unless you have them in a backup folder somewhere else).

When you REINDEX your library…you don’t lose anything. Your files remain safe and sound in the folders and subfolders you’ve stored them in. The software simply does some internal catalog housekeeping to straighten things out behind the scenes. When the reindexing is complete, your library will look like nothing has happened. It has, though, it just all happened out of sight.

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.My story…

The Studio software installed just fine on the second computer, but the library import was an Epic Fail. Yes, “Epic Fail” deserves those capital letters.

The folders and subfolders I’d set up were all still there (Yay!), but the files within were all mixed up (OMG). Here’s what the first two rows of files were supposed to look like:

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.I had renamed my files so all the airplanes were together, all the angels were together, all the arrows were together, etc. I had also added CU to file names I had commercial license to use, and added an S to files from the Silhouette Store.

My digital patterns were similarly organized. In subfolders for Dots, Stripes, Gradated, Textures, etc., I had changed each file name to start with its color, so every subfolder started with all the blacks, then blues, then browns, and the rest of the colors following alphabetically. Here’s a screenshot of my Gradation subfolder. You can see how this arrangement would make it really easy to choose a gradation of a specific color.

What you MUST do before exporting your Silhouette Studio Library V3.6 or earlier version.

After importing, my library was a jumbled mess. For some reason, I didn’t take a screenshot of it—I was too busy hyperventilating, apparently ;^) —but imagine if you will…  Most names (95%?) had been changed to either “Untitled” or back to the original file name from when I downloaded the file. As a result, my poor airplanes, angels, and other files were randomly scattered throughout the library, and my patterns were no longer organized by color.

When you have 800+ files in a folder, finding what you need when things are randomly organized…  Ugh, my heart sank at the thought of how much time that would take.

Reindexing the library after importing didn’t fix things…even though the Silhouette Studio manual said reindexing would resolve library corruption issues. No, the library had to be reindexed *before* exporting to *prevent* the issues, instead.

Once the new software version replaces the old one—as happens when updating—there is no old version to go back to to reindex and export again. If this happens, you’re hooped. The only option is to start from scratch and rename everything again. Luckily, I was able to go back to V3 on the first computer, reindex the library, and load that version onto the second computer, so my story has a happy ending. Lesson learned.

It’s surprising how much of a secret this is. I read a lot and follow a lot of Silhouette blogs, but no one had advised to reindex the library before exporting. Silhouette America says nothing about it on their software update page or in the manual. So how is one to know? I happened to trip over a link to it in a footnote to a Silhouette America blog post. The link led to a page that I haven’t been able to navigate to through other parts of the website. Strange, strange, strange. But once I reindexed my library and imported the indexed library, everything was back to normal.

Hope your journey to V4 isn’t as exciting as mine.



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47 thoughts on “What you MUST do BEFORE exporting your Silhouette Library V3.6 or earlier

  1. This post came just when I needed it– Im buying a new iMac this weekend and so grateful to have seen your article. Thank you SO much for passing your knowledge on!

  2. Ahh! This was exactly what happened to my library after I had to set up my old notebook again :-(
    At least now I know why this happened, so thank you for your post!

    1. I’m sorry to hear this happened to you, Claudia. This post comes too late for you, but I hope it helps save someone else the grief.

  3. OMG I wish I had seen this BEFORE I did the change. I have got such a mess till it is not funny. I’m having to go thru 16,000 or more designs and refile them. Talk about a jumbled mess. And to make matters worse when I first started the change it failed about mid way thru and I had to start all over, which duplicated a bunch of files. Did this about a month or so ago and still trying to get the mess straight. Thanks for the heads up just wish I’d gotten it sooner.

    1. OMG… 16K files all a-jumble? My heart goes out to you. I wish you’d gotten it sooner, too. I posted about it as soon as I discovered it, but it’s been around for quite a while. Silhouette should have had this information front and center on their software update page. It would have saved a lot of heartache, judging by these comments and the email I’ve received. Good luck to you as you re-org it all.

  4. Thanks so much for the advice. Most helpful for the newbies. However, I think for most of us using Silhouette for years- this got missed and my hundreds of purchased designs (that I probably spent hours organizing into labeled files) is one big giant library now. Luckily I save ALL my designs (set up in the design page) to a thumb drive and have those as labeled files. I learned to do this long ago- after so many desktop/laptop crashes.

    1. Actually, it’s not the newbies who need this info so much as us folks who’ve been around since the pre-cloud days. We’re the ones running the old software that needs to be reindexed. Anyone new to the Silhouette in the last 15 months or so will automatically be on the cloud, and this reindexing thing won’t be an issue for them.

      Saving externally is the key, though, isn’t it? I save the designs I create outside the library on my hard drive and then backup regularly onto an external drive, so those have always been immune to any library/computer issues. As for the patterns and designs in the library…for years I’ve faithfully exported my library regularly to an external drive as backup so if something did go ka-flooey with my computer, I wouldn’t lose much. Or so I thought. That’s the frightening revelation through all this: that if I had needed that exported library tucked safely away on the external drive, it wouldn’t have worked because it hadn’t been indexed before exporting. Egads.

      So, yeah, with that bomb, I’ve come to the same conclusion as you… that I can’t count on Silhouette to have my back with the exported library, so it’s best to store individual labeled files outside the library, either on an external drive or regularly backed up to one. Now comes the fun of making that happen, because not only do I want those files out of the library, but I want them organized in folders, and *with* thumbnails to make them visually searchable as they are in the Silhouette library. That’s taking some finagling, a little creativity, and time, but it’s doable. That’s what I’m working on now.

  5. I am so frustrated since updating to v4. I had my files organised into groups so that I could find things easily, now I have two libraries, neither of them are the same and I am unable to move files as I used to do. I didn’t ever want my files to be stored in the cloud, but I’m stuck with it. Thank you Silhouette!!!

    1. I feel your pain. I *really* *really* *really* hope Silhouette brings out the option to stay out of the cloud. So far, I’ve managed to do it, but what a pain it was to get here and there are still downsides. Just make it easy, Silhouette!

      1. What I ended up doing was putting the files from my library onto my hard drive, so now I access them from there.

        Something that worked for me is this Silhouette file extractor:


        The cloud interferes with it (although the software guys say that’ll be fixed in future versions, so far it hasn’t been), so if your library has been to the cloud and back, it may not extract everything, but if your version 3 library has remained version 3 all along, it should extract the files so that you can access them individually. That should give you some options on how to store them on your hard drive.

  6. Thank you so much for this. I’m getting ready to move my library. I have the business ed. and question is does that work the same way? I’ve tried to export my files for back up but realize that it would be a mess if I had to restore. So am I correct in my understanding: if I reindex my library, I can then export my files to usp thumbs. Can I do them one or two subfolders at the time? Sorry if this sounds confusing…I’m confused but pretty much stay that way..

    1. It can be confusing… :^) So. Here’s the dealio. First, find out which version of Silhouette Studio you’re running. You can find that out by looking at “About…” under the “Help” menu at the top on the right side. If you’re running Silhouette Studio V3.6 or earlier, reindex the library (instructions in the blog post above), *then* export it (instructions above). The exported library is in a format that doesn’t allow you to look at or move individual .studio folders/subfolder/files…it all looks like gibberish, which is normal…it’s all in computer-speak…the Silhouette software knows what to do with it. When you export your library, it’ll ask you where you want to export it to, and that’s when you can tell it to put it on a thumb drive. The library export stuff works the same whether you have the Basic Edition, Designer Edition, or Business Edition—so no worries there.

  7. Thank you for all the instructions!
    I am so sorry for your and everyone’s issues. Silhouette has great concepts not all have been completely thought out it seems.

    Truly enjoy your blog and all you offer us! Thanx again Eff. 🎉

    1. Thanks for the commiseration (and kind words!), Jerri. :^)

      Yes, they do seem to roll things out a little prematurely, don’t they? I just wish for something like this that could be so catastrophic, that they’d get the word out about the fix. I’m just thankful I caught it in time to save my library.

  8. I can’t be the only person with tons of “non-Silhouette” files purchased before getting the Silhouette and some after. When updating, 99% of the old files were erased from the program. How can I get them back? How do I store them for the next update fiasco?

    1. Oh, Bonnie, I’m so sorry this happened to you. :^( And no, you’re not the only one. [Raises hand] I have thousands of non-Silhouette files. I’ve deliberately chosen to stay out of the Silhouette cloud (I store all my designs on my hard drive) because I don’t want the risk of putting my designs at the control of someone else. I’ve heard too many stories of files inexplicably getting wiped out and never recovered.

      Whether you can get your files back depends on what versions you updated to/from, if your designs are still in the cloud and it’s just that they’re temporarily inaccessible to you, and whether you exported your library as backup, etc., so your best bet is to call the Silhouette America help line. I’m sorry to say it’s possible that your files are gone forever, but if there’s any chance of getting them back, Silhouette will be able to direct you there. Fingers crossed for you, Bonnie.

  9. What a jewel you are to all silhouette users. You are a genius to figure all this out and very kind to share it with the rest of us. I have been afraid to update to V.4 but I may try it with your instructions. THANKS!

    1. What a treat to find your comment in my inbox this morning. Thank you! :^) I hope updating to V4 goes smoothly for you. It looks very different, but once you figure out where they’ve moved everything, it’s all good. Have fun with the new features!

  10. I am saving my library from my old computer and older version of silhouette on a USB drive. when I go to import the library from my USB drive to my new computer, the exec file is grayed out and i cannot select it to import….please help!

    1. Did you select “Import Library” or “Import to Library”? Silly of Silhouette to make the names so similar without explanation, but you want “Import Library”, not the other one. Let me know if that did the trick.

  11. Can you tell me what c:/ program files error 0xc0000020 is ? I
    have reinstalled program worked about 1 week started showing up again.

    1. I’m sorry, Leo, I’ve never seen or heard of that error message before so I don’t have a solution for you. It looks more like a computer generated message rather than from the Silhouette software. I would google the whole message to see if you can figure it out, and if you still can’t, then contact Silhouette support.

  12. Oh No! I wish I’d seen this. I upgraded to v4 this weekend, now I can’t find anything, and the cloud folder system has appeared! I wish I’d not upgraded now, is there a way to step back?! I was happy with no cloud and just backing up myself regularly … sigh. I have all designs in one folder at the top, some in different folders and I can’t find anything now. I also used to sort on downloaded date, which helped, that option also isn’t available anymore. Grrrr, sigh. Not happy Silhouette !!!

    1. I hear ya. [insert sympathetic hug here] So messy.

      Yes, you can go back to a pre-cloud version. Back up your library (and if you already have a backup from before the last update, keep it, too, just in case) then uninstall V4. I would do what they call a “clean uninstall” (google HOW TO DO A CLEAN UNINSTALL OF SILHOUETTE STUDIO and you’ll get several hits with instructions). Then reinstall a pre-cloud version of V3. You’ll find the older versions on the Silhouette America site under “Legacy Versions”. Good luck!

      1. Thank you soooooooo much Eff! I did just as you suggested, and I am now back to v3, which I know might seem like a backwards step, but for now my library is as it was, and if I do decide to upgrade again I can do the indexing step first! That said I prefer the look of v3, so for now it’s all fine with me to continue with V3. I really appreciate the help, and I am now happily using my Silhouette again. Happy crafting day :0)

  13. Oh, Helen, I’m so glad to hear that you were able to get back to a good place. If you’re happy with V3, there’s no shame in sticking with it. I’m a big V3 fan, too. It’s worked great for me. I just got lured by some of the new features in V4. Now I have both on my computer and I find I go between the two…I prefer each for different things.

  14. I am stuck on version 3. I originally upgraded to version 4 but lost all of my files. I contacted Silhouette support but their instructions and advice didn’t help. I remember having a similar problem on one of the previous updates, so I reverted back to the legacy version and was able to see all the designs again One of the instructions Silhouette support told me to do was export my library, but when I try to export library, I get an error at about 63% every time and the export stops. Thus, I am stuck. I now am going through my folder where I keep all of my files saved, and pulling everything out of the zipped files etc. I am trying to create a folder with every file as an SVG, but that is taking time as I have over 2500 files. Once this is done, hopefully I will be able to import the SVGs into the new version. Will this work?

    1. Oh, Sharon… what. a. hassle.

      Oh, Silhouette, why, oh, why, oh, why.

      It should work, but due to the instability of the Silhouette Cloud and the high probability of losing files with each update, I encourage you to use your hard drive/thumb drive to store designs rather than the Silhouette Library. I’ve always stored my self-created designs on my hard drive and not in the Silhouette Library, but I’m now in the process of pulling the rest of my designs (files I’ve downloaded from other sources) out of the Silhouette library as well. I just don’t trust it.

      Something that worked for me is this Silhouette file extractor:


      The cloud interferes with it (although the software guys say that’ll be fixed in future versions, so far it hasn’t been), so if your library has been to the cloud and back, it may not extract everything, but if your version 3 library has remained version 3 all along, it should extract the files so that you can access them individually. That should save you some time.

      Good luck!

  15. Hi! I’m a newbie here and am quite confused on what I need to do. I am running an older version of Silhouette Studio- 3.3.642ssde

    I want to export the library so I can move everything from my desktop to my laptop which is a Mac. When I try and do this- it doesn’t really ask me where to download – it tries to save it as a pdf which then doesn’t open because it says it isn’t a supported file or was damaged and can’t open. I do not own an external hard drive and was wondering how I could go about saving everything. I do see where you say to reindex my library before exporting. After I get all this completed and do the update will I automatically have the cloud?

    I would appreciate any advice you could give me! Thanks!

    1. You don’t say what you’re doing to export, but you should be prompted about where to save the library and the library should export in a proprietary Silhouette file, not a pdf. It’s not a file you can open, it has to be ‘imported’ into Silhouette Studio. So here’s how it should work:

      REINDEX: The first thing you want to do is reindex the library (instructions in the blog post above).

      BACK UP LIBRARY FROM OLD COMPUTER: To do that, open Silhouette Studio, click on ‘File’, then click on ‘Library’, then ‘Export Library…”. That will open a window with your computer directory. Navigate to where you want to save your exported file, then click “OK” in the bottom right corner to start the export process. A progress bar will appear. Depending on how many designs you have in your library, it could take several minutes to complete the export.

      INSTALL SILHOUETTE STUDIO ON NEW COMPUTER: Go to https://www.silhouetteamercia.com/software and download the latest version (not the beta version) of Silhouette Studio. If you had the Designer Edition or higher on your old computer, now’s the time to install it on the new computer. To do that, click on ‘Help’ at the top on the left, then click ‘Upgrade Silhouette Studio’. A box will open prompting you for your Silhouette email account, password and 16-digit license code.

      GET YOUR LIBRARY ONTO THE NEW COMPUTER: You have to have some way to transfer the library backup file from the old to new computer. If you don’t have a hard drive, you can use a thumb drive. Navigate on the old computer to the place you chose to download the library backup. It’ll be called something like My Library.studio_library. Copy it to the thumb drive (drag it from one directory to the other). Once it’s on the thumb drive, plug the thumb drive into the new computer. Open Silhouette Studio, click on ‘File’, then ‘Library’, then ‘Import Library’. Navigate to the thumb drive and click on the library backup file, which will start the import process. Again, it could take several minutes for the import to complete. When you try and access the library (from the top toolbar “LIBRARY”), the software will prompt you to sync with the cloud.

      That should work. Let me know how it goes. :^)

  16. Hi! Thank you so so much for taking the time to try and help me! I really appreciate it! I understand what you’re saying about the exporting- my computer was automatically using adobe reader as a pdf. I was able to change that but when I tried sending the library to my downloads file- I now can’t open anything! It just flashes and doesn’t show me anything. I know you said we wouldn’t be able to view it that it would be a scrambled mess but I can’t seem to open anything. I even tried disabling my protection and that didn’t help. I’m running on windows vista. So clearly it’s something on my end.

    I will try and get this figured out and have your reply to help me once I am able to export the library! Again, ThankYou so much for your time!


    1. You shouldn’t be trying to open the library file at all. It gets exported. It gets moved to the new computer via thumb drive. Then it gets imported. That’s it. No opening. If you were able to export it to your downloads file on the old computer, yay, you’re on your way. :^) Now move it to a thumb drive and import it into Sil Studio on your new computer. Don’t try to open the library export file. It must be *imported* to work (as in my previous comment). After you’ve imported it (not opened it), you should be able to access your library as usual from within Silhouette Studio.

  17. Hello Eff,
    I am having trouble trying to import my Sil Lib files onto my new MacBook Air running Sierra 10.12.6 . I exported the library on my old Mac which I am using V3 of Studio. My new computer is running V4. I exported the file onto an external hard drive. When I try to import it to new computer the file appears as “grayed” out so it cannot be imported. I tried putting the file on the desktop of the new computer & the file is still “grayed” out.
    Any help will be most apprecited

    1. I don’t know Mac at all, so I can’t be of much help, I’m afraid. I do know that on a PC you can manually place a library folder with the other Silhouette operating folders, or replace an existing library folder with another one so the new one is accessed by the software instead. I imagine you can do the same thing on a Mac, but I wouldn’t know where to start. Sorry…I wish I could be of more help. I would contact Silhouette customer service and see if they can talk you through getting our library onto the new computer.

      1. My son did a work around on it. He installed V3 software on new Mac then installed library. He then was able to move it to V8. Thanks for your reply.

  18. I am still running the 3.8.88 and I am having trouble backing up my files. I read your instructions to reindex the library, but for some reason, I do not have a reindex option!!!! HELP!!

    1. The reindexing instructions are for the 3.6 versions of the software and earlier. Those are the versions that are pre-cloud. The software deals with libraries differently after 3.6, which is why you can’t find the reindex command—your version is newer. Once your files are in the cloud, reindexing doesn’t matter. What kind of trouble are you having?

      1. After I back up my files and save it on my desktop, I am unable to open it, the Sil software says “The files you are attempting to open is not supported”

        1. You don’t actually “open” the backup file, but instead “import” it into the software by going under “File” (top left of the screen), then “Library”, then “Import Library” (and not “Import to Library”).

  19. Thank you so much for this blog, it has helped through some of my frustrations, but unfortunately not all of them.

    I have re-indexed my library in version 3.6.057 before importing them into 4.1.206 as you had mentioned and now when i go into the new version and into File–>Library–>Import Library i scroll to where i exported my old library to click OK and then silhouette prompts me to enter in my e-mail address and password to connect to the server and that’s where it all falls apart…..it never seems to connect to the server and when i try and update my library it will attempt to connect to the cloud but never does.

    I don’t know if this is due to my internet connection, even after being plugged directly into my router, or whether it’s a silhouette cloud connectivity issue……i have spent my Sunday trying to get this figured out and installed and get my library updated but have not been successful and am very frustrated with the program.

    Any help would be appreciated and sorry for the book!

    1. If you still have a copy of your backup library file you can try and import it a different way. Uninstall V4 of the software. Do a “clean uninstall” (google –> clean uninstall silhouette studio for instructions), which means you uninstall *all* of the Silhouette files, including one called Bonjour, which downloaded with V4 of the Silhouette software. Then install your old version of the software V 3.6.057 (or if you don’t still have a copy of it, go with whatever pre-cloud legacy version Silhouette offers on the Silhouette America website…3.6 or earlier). Then import your library (keep a copy of it on a thumb drive or hard drive just in case). Once your library is back in the old software, then do a regular update to the V4 software. The software should update and fold your old library into the cloud without you having to perform an import function.

  20. I reindexed before exporting, and when importing it does not import all my files, it only does 1200 or so of them, and leaves 10k behind it states that these files are “archived”.

    I have tried different version of the software, and HATE the cloud with a passion you can only imagine. I have tried that route, and it spends HOURS trying to sync, and then still doesn’t do it. Silhouette never seem to respond either.

    1. Wow… it just left them all behind “archived”? Ick. I suggest the same for you as I did for the person who commented just ahead of you. Go back to an old pre-cloud version of the software, import your library there (which it should do, no problem), then update to whatever version you want to work in. Read the instructions I wrote in the previous comment for details.

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