Embroidery Software

The Best Embroidery Software for Mac Computers and iPads (2020)

More often than not, embroidery software only works on a PC. Which is bad news if you’re an avid embroiderer AND a fan of Apple devices (like me).

In this guide, I want to show you some of the best embroidery software for Mac computers and iPads, and talk about the pros and cons of using each.

If you’re fairly confident with computers, I’m also going to share a way you can “hack” your Mac device to run embroidery software that’s only compatible with PC.

What’s the Best Embroidery Software for Mac Computers?

TruEmbroidery 3, Embrilliance for Mac, Premiere+ 2, and Bernina Toolbox are the best embroidery software options for Mac computers.

Keep in mind, this recommendation is based on my experience and opinion only. If you have another embroidery software that you’re using with a Mac device, tell me about it in the comments below. I’m always looking for the next best thing in embroidery software.

Here’s a breakdown of the features of each of these embroidery software options.

TruEmbroidery 3 Software for Mac

FeaturesFile Formats
• Convert a batch of embroideries to other formats in the Finder.
• Create, edit, display and print designs in true three-dimensional reality
• Make your choice of background color and select from eight different fabric textures.
• Life View helps you see your projects with real-world perspective.
• Designs are shown in your preferred real-life hoop.
• Watch your design “stitching” on the screen with the Design Player and print the color worksheet or real-size background template.
• Select and organize your favorite thread colors
• Organize your thread stash and create your own thread palettes with TruE™ 3 Thread Cache – create a shopping list for your iPhone or iPad, or to print!
• View specialty threads including metallic, multi-color and varying thicknesses. Select from 20,000 thread previews from 37 manufacturers.
• Bernina ART .art version 1-3 (read only)
• Brother/Babylock/Bernina PEC .pec
• Brother/Babylock/Bernina PES .pes version 2-9
• Compucon/Singer PSW .xxx
• Husqvarna Viking/Pfaff .vp3, .vip
• Husqvarna .hus
• Janome .jef, .sew
• Melco .exp
• Pfaff .pcs
• Tajima .dst
• Toyota .10 (read only)

Embrilliance for Mac

Embrilliance is one of the cheaper embroidery software options available, and it’s a great beginner option.

FeaturesFile types
• Merge embroidery designs in almost any format, even while they are in .ZIP files.
• Resize embroidery designs with stitch recalculation.
• Colorize embroidery designs.
• Convert between thread brands on your embroidery designs.
• Add lettering to your embroidery designs in Multi-Line, • Monogram and Circle modes. 
• Spiral text and make large embroidered letters
• Save in your embroidery machine’s format.

Import formats (read):
.ART, .ART42, .ART50, .ART60, .ART70, .ART80, .CND, .CSD, .DST, .DSZ, .EMB, .EMD, .EXP, .EXP+, .HUS, .JAN, .JEF, .JEF+, .PCS, .PCM, .PES, .PHB, .PHC, .PHD, .SEW, .SHV, .TAP, .VIP, .VP3, .XXX

Export formats (write):
.CSD, .DST, .DSZ, .EXP, .EXP+, .HUS, .JEF, .PCS, .PCM, .PES, .SEW, .SHV, .TAP, .VIP, .VP3, .XXX

Applique files can be saved as
.SVG, .PLT, .FCM (ScanNCut) and .studio (Silhouette).


FeaturesFile types

• New Cross Stitcher
• Uses software protection instead of hardware (no dongle)
• mySewnet™ integration
• Font Manager and easier to find fonts
• Project in the Hoop Utility
• Rotation handle on Pattern Fills
• Bezier curves for power users
• Word Sculpt Wizard
• Bernina ART (.art version 1-3; load only)
• Brother / Babylock / Bernina PEC (.pec)
• Brother / Babylock / Bernina PES (.pes version 2-10)
• Compucon / Singer PSW (.xxx)
• Husqvarna Viking / Pfaff (.vp4, .vp3, .vip)
• Husqvarna (.hus, .shv)
• Janome (.jef, .sew)
• Melco (.exp)
• Pfaff (.pcs)
• Tajima (.dst)
• Toyota (.10*)

Bernina Toolbox

FeaturesFile types
• Design editing, lettering, monogramming
• Includes 600 designs 
• 100 lettering alphabets
• Combine, rotate, duplicate, change colors
• Mirror, enlarge, reduce

Import formats (read):
Brother PES, BERNINA ART, BERNINA EXP, Husqvarna VP3, Janome JEF, Viking/Husqvarna HUS, Tajima DST, Husqvarna/Pfaff VIP, Singer XXX, Elna SEW, Pfaff PCS, Melco

Export formats (write):
Brother PES, BERNINA EXP, Husqvarna VP3, Janome JEF, Viking/Husqvarna HUS, Tajima, DST, Husqvarna/Pfaff VIP, Singer XXX, Pfaff SEW, Pfaff PCS
Woman using an iPad

Can you use embroidery software on an iPad?

Yes, you can use embroidery software on an iPad, but software options are pretty limited. Currently, StitchBuddy is the only robust embroidery software that works on an iPad.

Full disclosure: even though I’m including StitchBuddy in this guide, I haven’t used the app yet. Personally I find it a lot easier to create and edit my embroidery designs on a computer. And because the iPad doesn’t have a USB port, I can only imagine that exporting designs from the iPad to your embroidery machine takes a little more time. 

But if you prefer using an iPad and you like the idea of having your designs with you on the go, here’s what StitchBuddy can help you do.

StitchBuddy HD for iPad and iPhone

If you like having your machine embroidery designs within arm’s reach at all times, the StitchBuddy HD app for iPad and iPhone is what you need. The app helps you view beautiful previews on your iOS device, manage and modify designs down to the stitch level, and keep everything in sync with the embroidery designs on your computer.

FeaturesFile types
• Preview machine embroidery designs on your iPhone and iPad.
• Manage and modify designs down to stitch level, and stay in sync with your computer.
• Rotate, flip, move, resize, or delete selected parts or the entire design.
• Resize selected parts or the entire design (without adjusting the stitch count).
• Copy and paste to duplicate parts, or to combine different designs.
• Center a design in the hoop.
• Add basting stitches to fix the underlay.
• Change individual thread colors, or replace the entire palette.
• Select from several different manufacturer thread charts.
• Reorder threads and delete color changes.
• Display options incl. zooming, 3D stitch display, or stitch structure.
Import formats (read):
• Janome JEF, JEF+, JPX, SEW
• Brother PES, PEC
• Melco EXP
• Tajima DST
• Pfaff VP3, KSM, PCS, PCQ, PCD

Export formats (write):
• Janome JEF
• Brother PES v1.0 (130 x 180 mm), PEC
• Melco EXP
• Tajima DST
• Pfaff PCS

Can you make Windows embroidery software work on a Mac?

If you really want to use Windows-only embroidery software on your Mac device, then you can hack your Mac and make it run a Windows-only program. This is called “partitioning” or “dual booting” your Macbook.

Follow PC Magazine’s step-by-step instructions to run Windows on your Macbook.

If this process sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is.

Partitioning your MacBook isn’t easy to do. And it can open your Apple computer up to additional risks (e.g. viruses). So only explore this option if you know what you’re doing.

Most Mac users I know prefer to avoid Windows at all costs, because the operating systems are so different. Rather than go to the trouble of hacking your MacBook, my advice is to choose and master one of the Mac-compatible embroidery software options listed above.

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