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How to Use Cricut Design Space for Beginners!

Learn how to use Cricut Design Space in this overview of my top 10 favorite things you can do in the Cricut software.

Are you new to Cricut and wondering how to start in Design Space?  When I first got a new Cricut machine and started using CDS, I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  I had never really used a design program before.

Believe me, I get it.  We were all there at some point.  I spent a lot of time on YouTube because I did not want my machine sitting in a box. 

I am on my third Cricut now, and when I used my first one over 8 years ago, there was no Cricut software to use!

Luckily CDS is easy to use once you figure out a few things.  Now, Cricut Design Space is my favorite design software! It is so user-friendly and can do so much. 

Even though this is a sponsored post, I purchased my first three Cricut machines on my own because I loved them so much and I was so excited when Cricut asked me to work with them because they had already been my favorite for years!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

how to use cricut design space pin

I love always finding out new things I can do in the program so I wanted to share my favorite parts of the Cricut software.  The new offline version has launched and I really haven’t found any real differences in using it.

All of the following Cricut editing tools are still the same.  You will also use CDS for all the Cricut machines… Cricut Explore 3, Cricut Explore Air 2, Cricut Maker, and the Cricut Joy.  If you want to know about the differences between the machines, make sure to check out my Which Cricut is Right for You post.

Pick which machine you will be using in the drop down menu at the top of Design Space.

machine drop down cricut

I made a video of design space in action with more details at the bottom of the post, but I wanted to give you a written list of bullet points too.  I know we all learn in different ways!

You can always subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch all of my other CDS video tutorials.


Also, you can check out my unboxing the Cricut Maker post where I go over all that it can do.

Make sure to sign up for my newsletter here for access to my FREE SVG files and to get weekly updates of new projects!

Extras in Cricut Design Space

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

First, let’s talk about a few of the extras in the Design Space software. Then we’ll dive into how to use Cricut Design Space.

1. Cricut Access – If you are just starting out with a brand new Cricut you will get a free trial of Cricut Access.  Make sure to browse around all that’s available in Cricut Access to see if it’s worth continuing on.  Plans start at $7.99 a month and include a ton of projects, fonts, and free images.  I think this is the easiest way to get started with the Cricut program. 

All of the images available with a Cricut Access subscription have a little green A tab on the left side of the image.

how to use cricut access

I wish they had access back when I started, I would have saved a ton of money!  I started with the machines that needed cartridges and the cartridges ranged anywhere from $15-50 each and I had over 40 cartridges…$$$$!

How do you get Cricut Access?  There are a few different ways to purchase Cricut Access.  Within CDS (this is new offline version!), click on the three lines in the upper left hand corner and the menu will appear.  Click on Cricut Access.

how to buy cricut access

This screen will pop up and you can start a free month trial of Cricut Access and then start paying $9.99/month and can cancel anytime.

free trial of cricut access

OR you can go to and purchase it there.  You’ll notice there are a few different options and paying for a full year of Cricut Access will save you money.

where to purchase cricut access

2.  Ready to Make Projects – Making the ready to make projects takes the guesswork out of everything.  Each machine comes with a certain number of projects that tell you exactly how to make the item. 

You can access the ready to make files after you have hooked up your Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker to design space.  In CDS, click on the My Projects drop down menu on the top right of your screen.

Then in the drop down screen, click on the machine you own to access the free projects.

free cricut projects

Or click on My Ready To Make Projects at the top of the drop down menu and all of the projects available will come up.  

free ready to make projects access

Again, projects included in Cricut Access will have the green tab on the side.

ready to make projects cds

Some of the free projects allow you to modify the design to a different size or by adding personalization.  Which is what I think makes the Cricut so fun!

3.  Cricut Community Projects –These are projects already designed and ready to make by anyone. They include Cricut projects using all the different Cricut Maker blades to get you inspired on things you can make using the knife blade, fine point blade, debossing tip, rotary blade, engraving tip, score tip, and more! I have a few projects on my  Cricut community page.

cricut community
personalized newborn baby gifts
One of my projects I have in the Cricut Community!

Some of these projects will be part of Cricut Access subscription and others will show you how much it would be to make.  If you design a project using Cricut Access images and fonts, make sure to share your beautiful work with other crafters!

4.  Cricut Design Space App – Did you know there is a Cricut app??  You can download and work with Cricut Design Space from an Apple or Android device.  A lot of people prefer to use their mobile devices, Ipad, or tablet to design and then connect with a Cricut cutting machine.  

However, there are a few differences with the app.  Some of the features are not available on the app but it’s nice to have in case I’m using my laptop for work and then can use my Ipad to cut from.

How to Use Cricut Design Space

Ok, so let’s get into the software itself and what you can do with it.

If you need help setting up an account in CDS, hop on over to my getting started with Cricut Design Space tutorial.

how to use cricut design space

5.  Canvas –  The Cricut Design Space canvas refers to the screen that you are designing on.  To start a new project on the Cricut Design Space landing page, simply click on one of the two “new project” buttons.

This will open up your canvas.  Now let the magic of creating begin!  

how to use cricut design space
  • How to Zoom in Cricut Design Space:  There are Zoom in and out buttons to see the tiny details or the big picture on the bottom left corner of the canvas. 
how to zoom in cricut design space

The design space zoom will increase or decrease as you push the + or – buttons by 25%.

If you are working on a pretty big project, you might want to zoom out to see the entire image.  Simply click on the Zoom Out or (-) button until it is the size you want.

how to zoom out on cricut design space

To make the image big so you can see the small details, click on the (+) Zoom In button.  You might need to use your cursor to move the screen up or down to get to the section you need to see.

how to zoom in cricut design space

Canvas Main Buttons

On the left side, you will find the main buttons.

how to use cricut design space
  • New – start a new project
  • Templates – One of my favorite parts of the canvas is using the templates so you can see how your project will work on different items.  You can easily change the color and the size of the templates to get a better idea.
  • Projects – opens up all the different projects in CDS.  
  • Images – where you’ll find all the images you can buy off Cricut Access in the Cricut image library and also the ones you’ve uploaded. Simply click on Images to then insert images by clicking on one in Access or an image file you’ve uploaded.
  • Text – What I use the most!  When you click on Text, a text box will open up. Type in text and find the font you want to use in the drop-down menu.  The menu will have Cricut fonts and your own fonts you have downloaded onto your device. Watch my all things font Cricut Design Space video tutorial to learn more.
  • Shapes – All the basic shapes and score line.  You can make a ton of different designs just by adding shapes together.
  • Upload – Upload a svg, jpeg, or png that you have saved on your computer.  See #8.

6.  Buy One Thing at a Time – If you don’t want to jump into Cricut Access yet or you already have a lot of linked cartridges, you can always purchase files one at a time. Once you buy a file, you will always have it, it never expires so you can use it in any project you like.

CDS will prompt you for payment before you cut the file. Easily set up your payment method under “account settings” on the left-hand side (click the three horizontal lines).

new to cricut
how to use cricut design space
how to use cricut design space

7.  Filters – Narrowing down what you are looking for is a huge time saver in CDS.  If you are looking for a certain text or image, you can use the filters next to the search bar to narrow things down to items you have uploaded or items available in Cricut Access.

I probably use this most often in searching for images.  You can filter to uploaded, single layer, Cricut Access, Free, etc.

8.  Upload Your Own Images- I make a ton of stuff using images I upload.  This is where you can make truly unique personalized gifts, waterproof stickers, and decor.  Cricut Design Space makes it easy to upload images you have saved to your computer and cut them out or use print and cut.

I have a huge list of where to find free SVG files to upload into CDS so make sure to check it out.

A cautionary note on uploading images – if you are selling items make sure the images you are using are not copyrighted.  You can google the laws around copyright infringement.  Disney is a huge one!  Be very careful if you are selling anything with Disney on it.  

Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely start a great craft business with a Cricut, but make sure you know the laws!

personalized shirts for mom

9.  Preview or Prepare Screen – CDS recently updated the preview screen which I love.  Now you can move things around within the preview screen before you cut it.

The Cricut software will try to save as much material as possible, but sometimes you can have cuts with big blank gaps in between the cuts.  I love the option of being able to manually move other cut lines into those spaces.

You can also move things to different Cricut mats within the Prepare screen.  Click on the image and then click on the 3 little dots.  You’ll notice “Move Object” appear.

move object in design space

Once you click on Move Object, all the different mats will pop up.  Click on whichever cutting mat or color you want to change that image to.  It will automatically change to that mat!

change mats design space

10.  All the Editing Tools – The editing tools that CDS has are pretty straight forward.  These are the cornerstone of being able to make your own designs.  Make sure to watch the video below to see all of these in action.

how to use cricut design space

Lower Right Corner of CDS:

Click on the individual links of each tool to read a much more in-depth tutorial on how to use them.

  • Slice – Cut images out of others or slice objects.  Use to make split letter monograms.
  • Attach – Attach text or images so they cut out exactly as you have them on your canvas.
  • Weld – Weld cursive text so it is one continuous line and no tails are cut.  Weld objects to turn into one object.
  • Contour – Delete inside or outside of images or unwanted lines.
  • Flatten – Flatten your image together to print it.  Read all about print and cut here and the new offset feature here.

Upper Right Corner of CDS:

  • Layers Panel – See all the different layers of your images.  Click the eye to hide or unhide certain layers.
  • Color Sync – See how many different colors you have on your canvas.  Change items to the same color by dragging and dropping in this panel.

Cricut Design Space Help Tutorial

Whew… that is a lot of info, but I guarantee you it becomes second nature once you play with the Cricut software for a bit.

If you’d like more detailed instruction on different parts of CDS, make sure to browse through my Cricut Design Space 101 series or watch my playlist on YouTube.

Cricut Design Space 101 Series

To dive more in-depth in how to use Cricut Design Space, make sure to check out the following tutorials. The majority have video tutorials to show you exactly how to use the software.

There is so much to Cricut Design Space that it's hard to teach you everything in one tutorial!

If you want a step by step course that you can take at your own pace, make sure to check out my Cricut University 101 with over 30 video tutorials!

Please let me know if you have any questions!  I’d also love to hear your favorite Cricut Design Space feature.

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a creative day!

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