Using the Cricut Design Space App is a great way to enjoy your machine. You can access your images and ready-to-cut projects; best of all, you don’t need internet!
If you are already familiar with the Desktop version of Design Space, you will find this app very easy to navigate. Just dive in, tap, explore, and don’t be nervous. Your phone or iPad won’t explode!
On the other hand, if you have no experience, this is the best place; this article will take you to every little icon the app has.
I understand that learning a new skill can sometimes be a little frustrating, but when you take the time and are patient with it, you can become an expert.
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of the app, let’s see some differences between the desktop software and the iOS and Android apps, so you have an idea of the tools you gain and lose as you move across each option.
Differences between the Cricut Designs Space App and Desktop
Although the Design Space App is complete, you can do pretty much anything you can think of. There are some features that the desktop version DOES have.
I don’t want you to break your head trying to find those features on the app so let me list them for you:
- Select All: a button that allows you to select all of the elements and layers you have on the canvas area.
- Curve Text: The feature that allows you to curve text can only be found and used in the desktop version.
- Foil: You can’t use the operation “Foil” from the app.
- Patterns: unfortunately, you can only use and upload patterns on the desktop version.
- Templates: are an excellent way for you to visualize where your designs will go. This feature is only available on the desktop version. Read the full tutorial here.
- Photo Canvas: This allows you to see how a design may look on a surface.
- SnapMat (Only on the App): finally, something extraordinary that the desktop version doesn’t have! This option allows you to choose the exact location – on your mat – you want your Cricut to cut.
Is there any difference between the Design Space App for iPhone and iPad?
Lucky for you and me, there’s not a big difference between these two options. Can you imagine trying to learn two different apps?
The only tiny difference between the app for iPhone and iPad is SPACE MANAGEMENT.
You will notice this first on the “Make it” interface. On the iPad, you see the entire mat preview, but on iPhone, you need to tap on the upper right corner to display other options (covered later on).
Something to keep in mind is that most of the time, when you tap on something, the menus are very long, so with the phone, you will have to slide them to the left and right to see all the options – sometimes, with the iPad too.
Also, since space is so limited on your phone, the layers button will be deactivated multiple times when you tap on other features. On the iPad, you can leave the layers button visible at all times.
Is there any difference between the Design Space app for iOS and Android Users?
When I started my crafting journey, Cricut didn’t even have an app for Android users!
Later, Cricut came with the app, and they’ve been working on it. iOS is more advanced and allows you to use your machine without the internet, and it has the offset tool, photo canvas, SnapMat, etc.
I bought an Android (a cheap one) to look at how the app behaves compared to iOS, and most icons are identical. I have the most updated version as well, and as far as I can tell, I can’t find how to use the 2×2 CardMat.
I do know that for the app to function fully; you need to have specific requirements; that’s why I think that my cheap Galaxy A12 doesn’t show particular features.
According to the app description on the google play store, if you have the system requirements and the latest software update, you should have SnapMat, kerning, etc.
Most screenshots from this tutorial are taken from an iPad pro. However, 95% of this tutorial will also apply to Android users. So if there’s an icon you can’t find on your device but can see on the screenshot, the feature most likely doesn’t exist for that particular phone or Android users altogether.
Smart Hand Gestures for Cricut App
Let’s see all the hand gestures you need to know to manipulate the app.
There are five gestures you can use:
- Tap: use a single tap to select an image or layer (also to choose any menu options).
- Swipe: if you need to select more than one image, swipe your finger on your screen to select all the ones you need.
- Tap and hold: You can also select an image one by one. To remove the selection, do a single tap on the canvas area. Do a more prolonged tap and then select another design by doing the same thing.
- Two Finger swipe: if you need to move around the canvas, you must use two fingers simultaneously. Otherwise, you would be doing gesture #2 (Swipe)
- Pinch Zoom: zoom in and out using your thumb and index finger.
When you Open the Cricut App
Every time you open your app for the first time, you will be in the home interface. From this view, you can choose to make a ready-to-cut project or create a new one.
One essential thing about this menu is the “Machine Selection.”
Before designing, select the Cricut you have (Maker, Explore, or Joy).
You see, the Maker machines have options that are only available to that particular machine. So, if you have a Maker and you are designing with the Explore, you won’t be able to activate the tools for the Maker.
You can also set up your machine from this menu, and if you plan on using the “Print Then Cut” tool, you can calibrate your device, so everything goes smoothly.
There are other options here that I recommend you to look at. I won’t go into detail about them because I want to focus on the designing aspect of the app.
When you tap on “New Project” – the green square – you will be on the CANVAS; this is the area where we will put most of our efforts into learning.
I believe the best way to learn and master Cricut Design Space is from the beginning! When you have a clear concept of what every icon and panel is for, you can truly dig in and start exploring further and further.
Sometimes we are quick to jump from project to project – Hey, That’s ok too! BTDT – But knowing your work area will help you take your creativity to a new level.
I have divided the design area into three sections to make this easy. Top panel (pink), Canvas Area (navy blue), and Bottom Panel (yellow)
Are you ready to tackle each panel/section and see what happens when you tap any available options?
This panel allows you to navigate from the Canvas to your profile and projects, and it also allows you to expand the Canvas Space to the max.
Let’s see how every icon works.
a. Go Back to the Home Interface
Tap here if you want to go to the home interface. If your app is open in the background, and you open it, you will land on the last project you were working on. The “go back” icon will allow you to open a new project.
This option will activate after you’ve placed one element on the canvas. I recommend you save your project as you go because, even if you are working from your device and the cloud, you can run out of battery, your app can crash, and if that happens, your hard work goes with it!
c. Make it
Tap on “Make it” when you’re done designing and want to cut your project. When you send your project to your machine, you will be prompted to choose how to load your materials; the amount of options depends on the Cricut you own.
Below, there’s a screenshot of what you would see (it may change depending on how you want to load your material). Projects will be divided by color.
Before selecting your materials, you can rearrange the cutting order, increase the project copies and turn on the mirror setting for working with iron-on or other materials that require it.
You can also change the load type again if you change your mind.
At the bottom, there’s a little icon called SnapMat, a tool that allows you to visualize and then choose where to cut your designs precisely.
When you tap on this icon, you’re supposed to take a photo of your mat (with the material you want to use already in place), then you can move your design where you want it to be.
Important: When using a small screen like a phone or iPad mini, tap on the upper-right mat icon to display the mats, project copies, etc.
When you are ready to cut, tap on continue to choose your materials and see the specific blade and other accessories you need.
The canvas is where all of the magic happens! You can play with your designs, get creative, and touch things before cutting them.
The canvas area is divided by a grid, and every little square you see on the grid helps you visualize the cutting mat.
You can change the measurements from inches to cm and turn the grid on and off when you tap on the “Settings” icon on the bottom panel of the app.
Anytime you select one or more layers, the selection is grey, and you can modify its size from all four corners when you’re zoomed in enough.
Note: Depending on the app version you have installed, you may be able to perform different actions like deleting the layer, unlocking the proportions, resizing, 3d perspective, etc.
The bottom panel may feel like the most challenging one because pretty much everything is done from here.
On the desktop software, all options are divided into three panels; but on the app, they are all hanging out together at the bottom, and, while you get used to it, you might get frustrated trying to find the option you want.
Every time you tap on one of the options, the icon itself will turn green, and the options of that tool will either take you to another window or slide open another menu with more options.
Note: depending on your device’s size, you need to swipe left and right to see all icons.
You can only use one option at a time, except with the “layers” icon; this one can be active at all times. However, the layers panel can become deactivated on your iPhone very often.
Note: I noticed that on Android, you couldn’t have layers and other icons activated.
The bottom panel is grey and has 13 essential menus that allow you to edit your project.
This app is very robust and has most of the things that the Desktop version has.
Important: something fundamental on this panel; unless you have Cricut Access, images, ready-to-cut projects, and Cricut fonts cost money. If you use them, you will have to pay before cutting your project.
If you still have doubts about Cricut Access. Do yourself a favor and read this ultimate guide I put together for you to find out whether you need it or not. It’s seriously a lifesaver.
a. Add Image
Images are perfect when you are putting together your projects; with them, you can add an extra touch and personality to your crafts.
Cricut has terrific filters, you can type a keyword on the search bar, or if you tap on the upper-right corner, you search by categories, free images, operation types, etc.
I suggest you play with these filters, so you find images more efficiently.
You need the internet to find an image, but (for iOS users) you can download it and use it later on for an offline project.
If you just want images with text or find quotes or sentiments to go on your project, tap on “Phrases.”
This tool is very similar to “Images” and, in my opinion, a little redundant.
c. Add text
Tap on “Text” anytime you want to add text to the canvas.
After you tap, you will be prompted to choose the font you want to work with; then, a little box will appear on the canvas area for you to type in your text.
I noticed on “Android” you can text right away, and you’re not prompted to select a font first.
d. Add Shapes
Being able to use shapes is essential. You can create simple, less complicated, but still beautiful projects with them.
There’re nine shapes you can choose from:
The first option is not a shape but a fantastic tool called “Line.”
You can change the operation of this line and set it to “Score,” “Engrave,” etc., if you want to make boxes cards, etc.
Important: Depending on the app version, the line will be a “Score Line.”
Cricut allows you to upload files and images you want to use on your projects. When you tap on “Upload,” you will have the opportunity to choose the location of your image or even take a photo.
The internet is filled with files for Cricut; tons of bloggers create projects for free. I am one of them.
If you have no idea where to find images or cut files, I have a growing library that you can access when you subscribe to my newsletter and become a daydreamer!
The Actions subpanel is a very meaty one! From here, you can change your design into a whole new one.
Some of the tools here might confuse you initially, but don’t knock them until you’ve tried them!
Let’s see an overview.
This option will delete any selected elements on the canvas or layers panel.
On some app versions, this is the only way to delete a layer before you can delete a layer from the selection on the canvas.
Group – Ungroup
Group: tap here to group layers. This setting is handy when you have different layers that make up a complex design.
Let’s say you are working on an elephant. Most likely (and if this is an SVG or cut file), the elephant will be composed of different layers (the body, eyes, legs, trunk, etc.). If you want to incorporate different shapes or text, most likely is that you will be moving your elephant across the canvas area a lot.
Therefore, by grouping all the elephant layers, you can ensure that everything stays organized and nothing will get out of place when you move them around the canvas.
Ungroup: This option will ungroup any grouped layers you select on the canvas area or layers panel. Use this option if you need to edit (size, type of font, etc.) a particular element or layer from the group.
Check out this graphic to understand Weld, Attach, Slice, Flatten, and Contour.
Attach – Detach
Attach works like grouping layers, but it’s more powerful.
When selecting both shapes and tapping on “Attach,” you can see the layers just changed color (determined by the layer on the back). However, the shapes are connected, and this attachment will remain in place when I cut my project.
If you desire to separate your layers, select them again and tap on “Detach.”
The welding tool allows you to combine two or more shapes in one.
When I selected both shapes and tapped on “Weld,” a new shape was created; the layer on the back determines the color; that’s why the new shape is blue.
The “Slice” tool is perfect for cutting out shapes, text, and other elements, from different designs.
When I selected both shapes and tapped on “Slice,” you can see that the original file got all cut up; to show you the outcome, I copied and pasted the “Slice Result” and then separated all the pieces.
Flatten – Unflatten
This setting is extra support for the “Print Then Cut” tool.
When you have “Print Then Cut” activated, that change applies to just one layer at a time. But what if you wish to do it to multiple shapes at the time?
When you are done with your design, select the layers you want to print together as a whole, and then tap on “Flatten.”
In this case, the design went from “Basic Cut” to “Print then Cut,” and that’s why it isn’t showing a black edge anymore.
The Contour tool allows you to hide unwanted pieces of a design, and it will only be activated when a shape or design has elements that can be left out.
When you tap on contour, a new window will pop up with all of the pieces on the design you can hide on the left.
I combined the original design in one shape with the weld tool for this example. Then I typed the word contour and sliced it against the new shape; then, I hid the inner circles of the two letters O and the inner part of the letter R.
This option will replicate any layers or designs you have selected on the layers panel or canvas.
From a desktop, you can use Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. But from the app, the only way to copy-paste is from the “Duplicate” icon.
This option is only available for text layers. And in my opinion, this tool should go on the “Edit” menu.
Don’t be intimidated by the name of this tool. Once you learn what all options are for, you will see they are not that hard to use.
– Ungroup to Layers: This one is the trickiest of these options. This tool is only available for multi-layer fonts; these kinds of fonts are only available for individual purchases or Cricut Access.
A multi-layer font has more than one layer; these fonts are great if you want to have some shadow or color around them.
What if you like a multi-layer font and don’t want the added layer? Select your text and then tap on ungroup to layers to separate every layer.
– Ungroup to Letters: This option will allow you to separate each letter into a single layer (I will explain more about layers later on); use this if you plan to modify every character.
– Ungroup to Lines: This option is exceptional, allowing you to separate a paragraph on individual lines. Type your paragraph, tap on ungroup to lines, and there you have it, a separate line you can now modify.
f. Edit Menu
The “Edit” menu allows you to modify your text even further (if the text is selected on the layers panel). You can also align, arrange, and organize all of the elements you have on the canvas area.
Let’s see all the things you can accomplish when you tap this icon.
When you tap on this option, you can select any font you want to use for your projects. You can filter them and search for them at the top of the small window.
Remember that if you have Cricut Access, you can use any fonts with a little green A on the font description.
However, if you don’t have Cricut access, Make sure you use your system’s fonts; otherwise, you will be charged when you send your project to cut.
Once you pick your font, you can change its style.
Some of the options you have:
– Regular: this is the default setting, and it won’t change the appearance of your font.
– Bold: it will make the font thicker.
– Italic: it will tilt the font to the right.
– Bold italic will make the font thicker and tilt to the right.
– Writing: font style design to use pens, foil tips, etc. It will make your project look like you wrote it.
Note: not all fonts have the same options.
This alignment is exclusive to text. It’s excellent for you to organize paragraphs and lines of text.
These are the options you have:
– Left: Align a paragraph to the left
– Center: Align a paragraph to the center
– Right: Align a paragraph to the right.
Size, Letter, and Line Space
I can’t express enough how helpful these options are.
Font Size: You can change it manually from here. I usually just adjust the size of my fonts from the canvas area.
Letter Space: Some fonts have a considerable gap between each letter. This option will allow you to reduce the space between letters very quickly. It’s seriously a game-changer.
Line Space: this option will tackle the space between lines in a paragraph; this is very useful because sometimes I am forced to create a single line of text because I am not happy with the spacing between lines.
This option will tell your machine what tools and blades you will use.
Remember that you will have different options depending on your machine (Maker, Explore, or Joy).
You can use nine operations from the app (basic cut, wavy, perforate, pen, score, deboss, engrave, and print then cut and guide).
These are the option you have per type of machine:
- Joy: basic cut, draw with pens, guide.
- Explore: basic cut, draw (pen and score), print then cut, guide
- Maker: basic cut, wavy, perforate, draw (pen, score, deboss, engrave), print then cut, guide.
Note: You can’t foil from the Cricut app. If you’re into foiling, you must use a desktop.
Here is a more in-depth explanation of each tool.
Unless you uploaded a JPEG or PNG image to the Canvas, “Basic Cut” is the default operation that all of your elements on your canvas will have; this means that when you tap on “Make it,” your machine will cut those designs.
With the “Basic Cut” option selected, you can change the color of each layer to represent the materials you will use when you cut your projects.
If you need help learning about the Cricut Blades and the differences, I recommend this ultimate guide and tutorial. It’s the best on the web, just like this tutorial 🙂
Cut – Wave
This tool will create wavy effects on your final cuts instead of cutting on straight lines like the rotary or fine point blade.
Getting curved lines in Design Space is quite complicated, so this tool will come in handy if you like these effects.
Cut – Perf
The Perforation Blade is a tool that allows you to cut your materials in small and uniform lines to create perfect and crisp tear effects like the ones you see in raffle tickets, coupons, tear-out cards, etc.
Draw – Pen
If you want to write on your designs, you can do it with your Cricut!
When you assign this operation, you will be prompted to choose any of the Cricut Pens you have (You need specific pens unless you have a 3rd party adapter). When you select a particular design, the layers on the canvas area will be outlined with the color of the pen you picked.
With “Pen,” when you tap on “Make it,” your Cricut will write or draw instead of cutting.
Note: This option DOESN’T color your designs.
Draw – Score
The Score tool is a more potent version of the scoring line on the left panel. When you assign this attribute to a layer, all layers will appear scored or dashed.
This time, when you tap on Make it. Your Cricut won’t cut, but it will score your materials.
You will need the scoring stylus or the scoring wheel for these projects. However, keep in mind The wheel only works with the Cricut Maker.
If you have doubts about what materials you need, I suggest reading this article. It’s the ultimate guide for learning what accessories and materials you genuinely need.
Draw – Engrave
It allows you to engrave different types of materials. For instance, you can create monograms on aluminum sheets or anodized aluminum to reveal the silver beneath.
Draw – Deboss
This tip will push the material in and create beautiful and detailed designs. The debossing tip will allow you to customize your designs to a new level.
Imagine debossing a beautiful gift box with flowers, hearts, stars, etc.!
Print Then Cut
“Print Then Cut” is one of the best features Cricut has because it allows you to print your designs and then cut them; this is fabulous, and honestly, it’s what motivated me to get a Cricut in the first place.
I design tons of printables for kiddos and adults, and for taking photos – for my posts – I had to cut every little thing!
Ahhhgggg, I seriously wanted to cry every time. I am a lefty, and scissors make my hands hurt. So the Cricut is a live saver for me.
It’s a feature that allows you to add elements to the canvas as a reference on your project, but that won’t be part of your project when you send it to cut.
Everything you create or type in Cricut Design Space has a size. You can modify the size of the element from the canvas area. However, if you need an item to have an exact measurement, this option will allow you to do so.
The little lock is essential; with it, you can tell the program that you don’t want to keep the same proportions by tapping on it because when you increase or reduce the size of an image, the proportions are always locked.
Like “Size,” rotating an element is something you can do quickly from the canvas area. However, some designs need to be turned on a specific angle.
If that’s the case for you, I recommend using this function. Otherwise, you will spend much time fighting to get an element angled the way you want it to be.
This tool shows you where your items are on the canvas area when you tap on a specific layer.
You can move your elements around by specifying where you want them to be on the canvas. It’s handy, but it’s a more advanced tool.
I don’t use it that much because I can get around better with the alignment mentioned below.
If you need to reflect on any of your designs, this is the way to do it.
There are two options:
– Flip Horizontal: This will reflect your image or design horizontally. It’s sort of like a mirror; It’s handy when trying to create left and right designs. Example: You are building some wings and already have the left side; with Flip, you can copy and paste the left wing, and voila! Now you have both (left and right) wings!
– Flip Vertical: This will flip your designs vertically. Kind of like you would see your reflection on the water. This option would be great if you want to create a shadow effect.
When you work with multiple images, text, and designs, the new creations you add to the canvas will always be in front of everything. However, some of your design elements need to be back or front.
With the arrange option, you can organize the elements very easily.
Something great about this function is that the program will know what item is on the front or back, and when you select it, Design Space will activate the available options for that particular element.
These are the options you get:
– Bring to front: This option will move the selected element to the front.
– Bring Forward: This option will move the element one step forward. Typically, you would use this option when you have four or more items you need to organize.
– Send Backward: This option will move the selected item one step back. If you have a three-element design, It will be like the cheese in a cheese sandwich.
– Send to back: This will move the selected element to the back.
This setting allows you to align all elements, and it’s activated when selecting two or more pieces.
– Align Left: All elements will be aligned to the left when using this setting. The furthest element to the left will dictate where all other details will move towards.
– Center Horizontal: This option will align your elements horizontally and entirely center text and images.
Align Right: When using this setting, all of your elements will be aligned to the right. The furthest element to the right will dictate where all other parts will move.
– Align Top: This option will align all your selected designs to the top. The furthest element to the top will dictate where all other elements move.
– Center Vertically: This option will align your elements vertically. It’s handy when working with columns, and you want them organized and aligned.
– Align Bottom: This option will align all your selected designs to the bottom. The furthest element to the bottom will dictate where all other details move.
– Center: This option is a very cool one. When you tap on “center,” you are centering, vertically and horizontally, one design against another; this is particularly useful when you want to center text with a shape like a square or a star.
If you want the same spacing between elements, it’s time-consuming to do it independently, and it’s not 100% right. The distribute button will help you out with that, and to be activated, you must have at least three elements selected.
– Distribute Horizontally: This button will distribute the elements horizontally. The furthest left and right designs will determine the distribution length, and the items in the center will be distributed between the most distant left and right elements.
– Distribute Vertically: This button will distribute the elements vertically. The furthest top and bottom designs will determine the distribution length; the items in the center will be distributed between the most distant top and bottom elements.
Every color on your canvas area represents a different material color. If your design has multiple shades of yellows or blues, are you sure you need them?
If you only need one shade of yellow, like this example. Just tap and drag the tone you want to get rid of and drop it on the one you want to keep.
When you tap the layers icon, a panel will slide open on the right. From here, you can see the operation of each layer.
Note: As far as I tested, for Android users, the layers panel will pop open and has to be closed when wanting to use other tools.
To set you up for success, and before I explain to you what every icon is all about on the Layers Panel, let me introduce what a layer is.
Layers represent every single element or design that is on the canvas area.
Think of it like clothing; when you get dressed, you have multiple layers that make up your outfit; depending on the day or time of year, your outfit can be simple or complex.
So, for a freezing day, your layers would be underwear, pants, shirt, jacket, socks, boots, gloves, etc. You would only have one layer for a day at the pool, a Swim Suit!
The same happens with a design; depending on the project’s complexity, you’ll have different types of layers that’ll make up your entire project.
For example, let’s pretend that you are designing a Christmas Card.
What would this card have?
Maybe a text that says Merry Christmas, a tree, the card itself, perhaps an envelope as well?
The point is that all the tiny designs and elements that are part of that project are layers.
Some layers can be modified; However, other layers, like JPEG and PNG images, can’t because of the file’s nature or the layer itself.
For instance, a text layer can be converted into other types of layers, but you’ll lose the ability to edit that text.
You will learn more about what you can or can’t do with layers as you go.
I hope that gave you a good idea of what a layer is! Now let’s learn what every icon is for on this right panel.
Visibility, Duplicate and Delete
These three options are located at the end of the layers panel, and depending on the layers you select, you can duplicate, hide, or delete.
This option will duplicate any selected layers or designs on the layers panel or canvas area.
The little eye at the end of the layers panel represents the visibility of a design on the canvas.
When you are unsure whether an element looks good on the canvas area, tap on the little eye instead of deleting it to hide that design.
Note: When you hide an element, the eye will have a cross mark.
This option will delete any selected elements on the canvas area or layers panel.
j & k. Undo – Redo
Sometimes while we work, we make mistakes. These little buttons are a great way to correct them.
Tap “Undo” when you create something you don’t like or make a mistake. Tap “Redo” when you accidentally delete something you didn’t want to delete or modify.
When you tap the “Camera” icon, you can see what your camera displays. NO, you can’t take a photo or use it for your design; this is mainly a visual aid.
For instance, if you are cutting a vinyl decal for a notebook, you can overlay it over the real thing before cutting it!
We are on the last icon! Can you believe it?
When you tap on “Settings,” you can choose whether you want to use metric or imperial units.
Also, you can turn it off if you prefer to work with a clean canvas – no grid whatsoever.
There’s also an option that allows you to work on a dark canvas. Although I always work on “Light mode.”
Last but not least, you have the Smart Guides setting; I leave them on all the time because they help you position and align new objects with those you already have on the canvas area.
If you made it this far, you are no longer a beginner. Now, you know how to navigate and use your Cricut from your phone or iPad!
Do you know it takes me over 25 hours to complete a single Cricut article? I know it’s wild! But I like to make sure that you understand EVERYTHING!
I would appreciate your support on Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube / as I am trying to grow my audience to keep producing great content!