How To Download Designs To The Brother SE400

Download designs with the USB port and cable

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the new USB port and downloading designs. This article will explain step-by-step how to download embroidery designs from your computer into a Brother SE400.

You can connect the Brother SE400 directly to your computer (PC or Mac) with the included USB cable. You can then download embroidery designs saved on your computer into the SE400 for stitching. You can also upgrade the internal software in the SE400 when Brother releases an upgrade.

NOTE: The USB port on the SE400 only accepts a USB cable that attaches to your computer. It is not compatible with USB drives, thumb or jump drives, memory sticks, etc.

Find Embroidery Designs that Work with the SE400

There are many websites where you can purchase embroidery designs and download them directly to your computer. Most sites have free designs you can try. You can also obtain designs on CDs. Designs on CD can either be saved to your computer first or copied directly to the SE400.

Make Sure the Design File Is Compatible with the Brother SE400:

.PES or .DST Embroidery Data File Format

The Brother SE400 can only read embroidery data files in .PES and .DST format. The best format for Brother embroidery machines is .PES because it contains information about the design such as number of stitches, number of colors, thread color names, and allows displaying an image of the design on the LCD panel.

Tajima (.dst) formats have some limitations that make them less convienent. Only the first eight characters of the file name are displayed in the LCD control panel. The image of the design cannot be displayed. Because the .dst format does not contain the thread color information, the design is displayed with Brother’s default thread color sequence. You will have to look at the design and pick the color you want for each displayed color.

Sometimes embroidery design files that you download from the Internet are “zipped.” You’ll know because the file name ends with “.zip”. On Mactinoshes and Windows XP and later, you can just double-click the file to “un-zip” it. (If this doesn’t work on Windows, you’ll need to install a free utility such as WinZip.) Then you’ll see the .pes files.

Design Fits in the 4×4 Inch Embroidery Area

Although the maximum embroidery size is commonly refered to as a 4×4 inch hoop size, it really doesn’t depend on the hoop. The embroidery unit of the Brother SE400 is physically incapable of embroidering a larger size because that’s the maximum amount the unit will move. The actual maximum size is 3.93 inches (9.98 cm or 99.8mm).

Check the File Name

The SE400 won’t recognize embroidery files with special characters in the name. If you have a file name with special characters, rename the file before uploading it to the machine. It’s safest to use only letters (upper and lowercase), numbers, “-”) and underscore (“_”) in file names.

Connect Your Computer to the Brother SE400

Included USB Cable USB Cable to SE400 USB Cable to Computer SE400 Connected to Computer

USB Cable Included
With The Brother SE400

Plug the square end
into the SE400.

Plug the flat end
into the computer.

The Brother SE400
Connected to the Computer

Plug the square end of the included USB cable into the USB port on the right side of the SE400. Plug the flat end of the cable into a USB port on your computer.

Make sure both the computer and the embroidery machine are turned on.

Brother SE400 LCDOn the SE400 LCD screen, press the USB icon. This will take you to a screen that will give you information about the designs you’re downloading.

Look at the LCD Screen

It’s helpful to glance at the Brother SE400 touch screen while you’re copying files over. The message “Transmitting by USB” will appear briefly during the actual file transfer. And then you’ll see this screen giving information about the designs you have transferred over:

Brother SE400 Control Panel after copying file

The first number at the top left of the screen is the total amount of memory you’ve used. The second number is the total amount of memory space. The SE400 can hold up to 12 designs or 476KB of data in its memory. After that you have to delete some old designs if you want to download more designs.

Next there is the button (looks like a pocket with an up arrow) for retreiving the pattern.

Under the button, there is the number of the current page and the total number of pages. Two designs are displayed on each page. In the photo above, I’ve uploaded three designs. So I’m on page 1 out of 2 pages.

At the bottom, there are images of the embroidery designs on the current page.

Copy the Embroidery Design Data Files to the Brother SE400

For Windows Computers (For Macintoshes, See Below.)

Back on your PC, you’ll have “Removable Disk” listed in “My Computer”:

Removable Disk on My Computer

Open the folder on your computer where you keep the embroidery files. Navigate to the particular design you want to download to the SE400. Right-click on the design file. Click on “Send to: Removable Disk”

Removable Disk on My Computer

Do not copy .zip files. You must unzip them first.

Do not copy folders to “Removable Disk.” The SE400 cannot recognize folders or find embroidery files in folders. The individual files must be added to “Removable Disk.”

Do not copy more than 12 designs to “Removable Disk.”

Embroidery Files in Removable Disk

For Macintoshes (For PCs, Skip This Section.)

Although the manual says the SE400 is only compatible with PCs, it’ll work just fine with a Macintosh.

The SE400 will show up as an external hard drive, named “No Name.” Just drag and drop the embroidery files to this drive.

No Name Drive on Macintosh

Do not copy .zip files. You must unzip them first. Just double-click it.

Do not copy folders to “No Name.” The SE400 cannot recognize folders or find embroidery files in folders. The individual files must be added to “No Name.”

Do not copy more than 12 designs to “No Name.”

A weird thing happens on the Macintosh. The Macintosh system puts invisible system files in “No Name” which the SE400 transfers over. So the amount of memory used can be 16 to 28KB when the machine is first connected to the computer, even before you’ve downloaded any designs. These files aren’t embroidery designs so there aren’t any images. Only the amount of memory used increases. This is isn’t a problem unless you’re pushing the memory limits with large embroidery files.

Retrieve the Embroidery Pattern

Move to the screen that displays the image of the embroidery design you want using the Next Page [<] and Previous Page [>] buttons on the right. Select the design by touching the image. The selected design will be displayed in reverse highlighting.

Retrieve the Embroidery Pattern

Then, press the Retrieve key (circled in red in the photo above).

The embroidery screen appears. From here you can check the colors, adjust the pattern, embroider it and/or save it to the machine’s memory.

embroidery screen

Embroider the Design

You can either embroider the pattern now or save it in the SE400’s memory to use later. If you want to embroider it now, make any adjustments you like, set the machine up for embroidery, and press the Start button to begin stitching.

Saving Embroidery Designs

Unsaved designs are lost when the SE400 is turned off. So if you want to use a design again without copying it from your computer, you must save it to the SE400’s memory. This is a convenient way to save names and designs that you use frequently. Or if you’re starting a project or several projects that involve several designs, you can transfer them all over at once and save them. I do this so I don’t have to keep moving my computer next to the SE400 because I don’t have a large working space.

You can save up to 12 designs or 476KB of data.

After retrieving the design you want to save by pressing the Retrieve Key and going to the embroidery screen, press the Memory button. “Saving…” appears while the pattern is being saved.

Saving the embroidery pattern

Retrieving Saved Embroidery Designs

From the first menu, press the Retrieve Key.

Retrieving the embroidery pattern

The saved designs are displayed. Go to the design you want using the Previous and Next Keys. Select it by pressing it. You can then delete it or retrieve it to embroider.

Retrieving the saved embroidery pattern

Hope This Helps

I get a lot of questions about how to download designs into the Brother SE400 and the manual isn’t very clear. Being able to easily transfer designs from my computer with USB is very important to me because I’m always wanting something different. So I hope this article helps you do it too.

If you don’t have your embroidery machine yet, check out my Brother SE400 review for detailed information. Click here to see today’s price on

Our Readers Respond ...

  1. mary says

    wish i would have seen this when i started using my machine back in March! i have a problem now. All designs i have previously used have been .PES. Just got the first .DST which was given to me on a zip drive from the digitizer. it is NOT a zipped file. i have copied it to the computer and uploaded it to the SE400. and, as per .DST, there is no visual “picture” on the machine upload. just the name. When i touch it it DOES reverse highlight but it will not retrieve the design (using the little up pocket icon). any suggestions?

  2. Beth Yarbrough says

    I have downloaded 2 free designs from the Brother web site on my MacBook Pro. I have clicked and dragged them into the No Name file. My MacBook Pro is connected to my Brother SE-400 by the cable. How do I transfer these files to the Brother? Nothing is showing on my MacBook Pro that it is connected to anything. Help!

  3. Kim says

    I purchased a font (I was able to embroider the single sample letter) but now I am unable to group the individual letters together in order to check layout and make sure it will be
    spaced properly. How do I set up the letters I purchased in a group and manipulate the layout as I do with the preinstalled fonts?
    Please help!!!

  4. gloria washington says

    I use to be able to see my removeable disk but I don’t anymore please help I download design but cant out yhem on my machine

  5. Bonnie says

    I am trying to download embroidery designs onto my SE-400. I am following instructions but can’t retrieve them. It is showing that it is in my machine but wont come up to select.


  6. Brenda Montgomery says


    I need help. I am attempting to monogram 3 names on a blanket, first, middle and last. The measurement show the same but the middle name always comes out bigger. Any suggestions. I am using the smallest lettering.


    • Rev Debra says

      A Monogram always has the initials in this order – First, Last and Middle – the Last name is the surname Monogram and will be larger with the first and middle on each side in smaller letters – if you want the initials take it off monogram and simply sew each letter – Hope this helps –

  7. Patrisha Bates says

    I am following your directions for downloading patterns from a removable disc but nothing happens. Even following the printed directions that came with my machine, nothing happens. I am really frustrated. There is no icon for the sewing machine coming up on my computer.

    • Kristy Alexander says

      I’m right there with you! I downloaded some software and fonts from etsy but when i connect to the sewing machine nothing happens. I’m really frustrated also.

      Do we have to download special embroidery software to make this work??

  8. Donna says

    All I wanted to do was embroider SHAY onto a quilt. I tried it with the SE 400 but it spaces weird. Tried all the fonts too. The Y is kind of set apart from the other letters (like this SHA Y). So, then I tried to use SewWhat and Sophie Sew to do it. I created the name and it looks ok, but can’t get it to upload to my SE400. I saved it as a .pes file, but no go.Same as other users on here, it says it’s uploading, but nothing displays on the LCD but the space used changes ….. Any ideas?

    • Melissa lewis says

      The same happened to me because I was trying to download a font larger than the 4×4
      it would say downloading but the machine would not except it. One other incident was when I was trying to download a font that I got off embroidery library. I went back to the embroidery library and downloaded it again to my computer and it worked. Maybe the file corrupted the first time.



  10. Dee says

    I’m waiting for a reply to the above questions. I need to know in better detail how to use this with my MacBook Pro. I don’t find the above clear enough. This is the only thing stopping me from buying this machine. Thanks

    • Jason says

      Hi. I believe this is a PC-Based tutorial. I have noticed on Walmart’s reviews that some folks use it with a Macbook pro with no problems! I would advise to see if you could contact one of those reviewers. Thanks!

    • Patti-Ann says

      If you go to the top of this page to the right she has a Facebook page you may want to friend it so you can ask here there. I just found this on FB and are new to my machine so I did friend her FB page to ask her info if I need to. Best of luck. There is also a FB group directly for Brothers SE 400 and there is many on there that do use their MAC Pros as well. Now I need to figure all this out with my MAC. ;)

    • Cathi says

      Yes I bought the machine and now stuck, read all afternoon and I am still not finding anything. I am not a computer wiz. If it is set I I can do it. I sew great but stumped on using computer with it together.Hope I figure this out soon…..Need a tutorial.

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