Do all those file extensions seem like some crazy alphabet soup? What do they mean? How do they work? What the heck are they anyway?

File extensions are those characters (usually 3) following the period (“dot”) at the end of a file name which designate which programs can read the file. Windows programs may not read a file without an extension.

Not normally in use on Macintosh prior to OS X but now we Mac users have extensions too. (They were there previously, we just didn’t see them.) To read them, we say “dot PDF” (naming out each letter) or just “PDF.”

In the past, home embroidery software often only recognized their own preferred format; embroidery machines the same. Today’s machines and embroidery programs are more “multi-lingual” and can read many formats in addition to their native format.

On the subject of “native files,” it’s important to understand that many programs have a “working” file format and another one that is used by the machine.

For example, .BE is the working file format for Embrilliance and Embroidery Works. Even though no machine can sew this format, you still want to keep it because it has special, magical properties (all native files do).

When you’re ready to sew a design you’ve made or modified, simply save it out in your machine’s preferred format. I usually just save in DST because I know it will work on all my machines.

What You Need to Know

For the bare bones basics, you need to know:

  • What format your machine sews (see your manual or the list below)
  • How to convert a design in another format to your machine’s preferred format if your machine can’t read it (see your software manual or if you don’t have software, I recommend Embrilliance Essentials)
  • How to unzip a downloaded file (see this YouTube video if you need help with that: How to Unzip Embroidery Designs using Windows Explorer )
  • How to transfer a design to your machine (see your manual)

Obviously there are many other things you need to know to use an embroidery file and fortunately that info is easy to find these days!

Other Important Formats to Know

Two other formats you need to know about are .zip and .pdf. Neither of these are embroidery file formats. The .zip format is commonly used to compress files and make them easier to download.

Some browsers will automatically extract files during the download process, but most will not. You must extract the files before you can sew them.

PDF files are commonly used for any documentations or instructions. Most computers and mobile devices can read a PDF.

A third format, BX, is a new kid on the block. This is a revolutionary keyboard font format that works EXCLUSIVELY with Embrilliance and Embroidery Works.

Think of it as a stitch version relative of TrueType font that only works in those programs and no others (embroidery programs or not). They’re well worth learning about because they infinitely expand your embroidery font choices and they’re so much easier to use than manually aligning individual characters. Just search this site for “fonts” to learn more!

About these Lists

This post only provides a reference list of embroidery formats. This list was started over 20 years and I update it when I remember to do so and I’m aware of some new format out there.

Note: This information has been compiled from many sources. If there is an error, please let me know!

Home Formats

Ext For Disk Format File Format
Poem Designer Mac Mac Stitch
AY! Adorable You! DOS Object
ART Bernina Artista & OESD DOS Object
BE Embrilliance & EmbroideryWorks DOS & Mac Object
BX Embrilliance & EmbroideryWorks DOS & Mac Keyboard font file
BLF Master Works DOS Object
CAN Viking digitizing file DOS Object
EMD Elna Xpressive DOS
EOF Vector embroidery format DOS Object
GEN Object DOS Object
GNC Great Notions variant of Melco DOS
DOS Object
HUS Viking #1 Plus, Rose DOS Stitch
JEF Janome 1000, Kenmore ergo3 19010 DOS Stitch
JEF+ Janome 1100 DOS Stitch
OEF OESD Condensed DOS Object
PCD Pfaff 9mm DOS Stitch
PCM Mac Pfaff format Mac Stitch
PCQ Pfaff Maxi stitch DOS Stitch
PCS Pfaff 7570 DOS Stitch
PEC Bernina Deco, Babylock, Brother,
Simplicity (created when files saved from card to computer)
DOS Stitch
PEL Bernina Deco, Babylock, Brother,
Simplicity (Line drawing made in stage two of the Design Center)
PEM Bernina Deco, Babylock, Brother,
Simplicity (Map of stitching lines (both outlines and fills) created in
stages 3 & r of the Design Center)
DOS Object
PES Bernina Deco, Babylock, Brotherher,
Simplicity (format required for card or floppy)
DOS Stitch
PHC Machine format DOS
PMD* Mac Pfaff Mac Stitch
PMU Brother DOS Utility
SEW Janome, Elna, Kenmore, Simplicity DOS Stitch
SHV Viking Designer 1 & II, Platinum
Plus—special disk structure for machine
DOS Stitch
SPX 9mm & Maxi Pfaff C-V DOS Stitch
SSP Stitch Shop Pro DOS
VIP Pfaff 2140, 2144 & Viking Designer series DOS Stitch
VP3 Emnet DOS Stitch
XXX Singer XL 1000 & 5000 DOS Stitch

Cross Stitch Formats

Ext For Disk Format File Format
ARX Artista Cross stitch add-on DOS
CSE Win Stitch (Cross Stitch) DOS Stitch
ECF Cross stitch format DOS
KRZ Viking Cross Stitcher, Kreuz, Uli’s
Cross Stitcher
DOS Stitch
PAT PatternMaker Cross Stitch, PC-Stitch DOS Stitch
SCW Stitch Crafts Gold (Cross Stitch)ch) DOS Stitch
TBX Turbo Cross (Cross Stitch) DOS
WBX Easy Cross (Cross Stitch) DOS

Commercial Formats

Ext For Disk Format File Format
10O Toyota DOS
ASD Melco DOS Stitch
BDF BE-100 DOS Object
BRO Bits & Volts DOS Stitch
CND Melco DOS Object
DAT Barudan DOS Stitch
DS2 Barudan DOS Stitch (Beat 900)
DSB Tajima DOS Stitch
DST Tajima DOS Stitch
DSZ Tajima DOS Stitch
E01 Eltac DOS Stitch
~ E36 Eltac DOS Stitch
ELA Gemini DOS Stitch
EMB Wilcom DOS Object
EMT Wilcom template file DOS
EMX Wilcom Cross Stitch File DOS
ESD Wilcom (old) DOS
EXP Melco DOS Stitch
EXY Eltac DOS Stitch
F01 Fortron DOS Stitch
~ F36 Fortron DOS Stitch
FDR 1.44 Barudan DOS Stitch
FXY Fortron DOS Stitch
KSM Pfaff DOS Stitch
KWK Brother DOS Object
M3 Juki DOS Stitch
OFM Object format (Bernina Artista,
Melco, Wilcom)a)
DOS Object
PCH versions may vary for readabilityilty DOS Object
PDC Punto DOS & Mac Object
PMU Proel DOS Stitch
POF Pulse Signature outline file DOS Object
PSF Pulse Signature stitch file DOS Stitch
PUM Proel DOS Stitch
REF Compucon DOS Object
STC Gunold APS DOS Stitch
STI Capitol Automation DOS Object
STX Data Stitch DOS Stitch
T01 Wilcom (old) DOS Stitch
T03 Wilcom (old) DOS Stitch
T0O Toyota DOS Stitch
TAP Happy DOS Stitch
WCN Pulse Signature art file DOS
XXX Compucon DOS Stitch

Non-DOS Formats (Requires special disk formatting software)

Ext For Disk Format File Format
CND Old Melco CND (non-DOS) Non-DOS Object
FDR Barudan CPM Stitch
FMC Barudan CPM Stitch

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