File Associations

Ever download one of our designs and suddenly find that you’re unable to locate the embroidery format you need for your machine?

File association 1

When programs are installed on your computer, they can tell your computer to automatically associate different formats with itself. As a result of this when you go looking for those files, they may look different to what you are used to. File associations are generally useful as they allow you to quickly access files that are commonly used by programs. As an example Windows 10 will open most photo formats (JPG, PNG, BMP etc) with Photo Viewer by default, this allows you to double click on photos and quickly view them without needing to select a program yourself to see them.

File associations can be confusing when a program associates many different files with itself and you are unable to distinguish between them. It can also cause confusion if you have accidentally opened an embroidery file with a program on your PC and suddenly all of those files now appear differently to you.

How do you see the actual formats (not just the associated program)?

To see the actual file extensions (PES, EXP, JEF etc.) you can enable “File name extensions” within Windows File Explorer. This option is a tick box within the “View” tab located in the top left hand corner of the window:

Below is a comparison between this option enabled/disabled and the impact that it has on the way the files are displayed to you:

This may not show extensions for some files still though unless you modify the “Folder Options” (located just next to the “File name extensions” checkbox):

A new window should pop up, you will need to navigate to the “Advanced settings” of the “View” tab:

Ensure that the option “Hide extensions for known file types” is NOT enabled, otherwise this will hide the extensions from you even with the tick box “File name extensions” on.

How do you change program associations?

You can also set program associations yourself by right clicking on a file and selecting “Open with…” and enabling the option “Always use this app”.

Here is an example from Windows 10:

open with windows

Open with

Also this is an example from MacOS:

Mac Open With

Setting file association Mac2

Changing the application that opens a particular file type doesn’t change the files, only the way your computer displays and wants to open them.

“EXP” Format and Adobe Issues

There is a common issue related to the “EXP” format in particular, as Adobe Acrobat actually uses this same file extension for some of its files. This doesn’t mean that EXP files we provide will work with Adobe though (as the coding is much different between Bernina EXP stitch files and Adobe EXP files). As a result if you double click on one of our EXP files it will give you a error saying Adobe cannot open it:

Adobe EXP error.JPG

You don’t actually need to open the stitch files at all on your computer though (except for some older machines which require embroidery software to export to design cards). If your machine has USB ports though you just need to copy the file to a USB drive for your embroidery machine. If you do need to open the designs in embroidery software you just need to right click on the file and go to “Open with” as opposed to just double clicking on it and select your desired program.


    • The Singer embroidery format is “XXX”, I believe this specific machine should be compatible with XXX and DST files.

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