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. Pat says

    I have the LB6800 and I am just getting to use the Monograming section. I have purchased the large hoop but still have problems enlarging the fonts. I get messages stating hoop not large enough? I have not downloaded extra software presently. Do you have any recommendations on which software I can purchase to allow me larger Monograming say up to six inches tops and various styles.

    I appreciate your help. I have had my machine since 2013 but only used it for sewing until now – love it but purchased it with the intent to ultimately do Monograming. Frustrated with the challenges I have experienced.


    • Kamala says

      Hi Pat,
      You really need a larger, more expensive machine if you want to stitch designs larger than 3.94×3.94″. The maximum embroidery area is a physical limitation of the machine in all components. You could research software to split the design into 3.94×3.94″ blocks or tiles that you stitch separately. I have only theoretical knowledge of this, because I think it’s very difficult or impossible with many designs to get the pieces lined up for beautiful, neat embroidery.
      Since you’re just getting started, I suggest you learn to monogram smaller letters that fit and then decide.
      The large hoop does not let you monogram larger letters. Please read my review on the large hoop to see what you use it for.
      You can download free and purchased fonts in various styles that will work with the LB5600. See my article on monograming.
      Good look and I hope this helps, Kamala

  2. Yaneth says

    Is there any embroidery machine that can do letters that are 3-4 inches and even bigger i am looking into buying one bit it will be worthlee for me if it only does small letters. Also i saw some files to download on etzy that are up to 16inches. Would that go on any embroired machine?

    • Kamala says

      Hi Yaneth, The SE400 will do letters that are 3-4 inches. If you want do you bigger letters you really need a bigger machine. The Brother The Brother PE770 will do up to 5×7 inches. I don’t know anything about 16″ designs. I suspect they are for professionals with large expensive machines.

    • Lindsey E says

      they do make hoop that goes up to 18″ but thats only on certain machines that are more expensive

  3. Auntie K says

    Thanks so much! I have a Mac – this tutorial worked great! I’m making gifts for my Grand-Nephew (Wow! I don’t feel old enough to be a “Great” anything, lol!) Turned out beautiful…and using a FREE embroidery design to boot :-)

  4. Katie Heird says

    I have downloaded a file but it is not showing on my machine. It shows that is was downloaded but will not give me a picture to select. This all started because my files stopped working on my laptop, so I tried another computer. HELP!!!

    • Ashley Burbage says

      I am having the same problem. I can get some things to show up, but not others. I did not have any problems before this. What am I doing wrong?

  5. carrie says

    I have been trying to download from computer to embroidery machine with much difficulty. need help. I have the HE-1 Brother Embroidery System. I could use some assistance………………….Thanks!

  6. Joyce says

    Thank you SO much for your tutorial. My husband bought my SE400 for my birthday about 3 years ago. I was so excited to get this wonderful gift, but then found out that there was absolutely no one in my area (North Idaho) who knew how to download the embroidery designs and the manual didn’t have much in the way of instructions. I called Brothers customer service, but they weren’t much help, neither was JoAnns or Hancock Fabric. Now, my excitement has returned and I’m looking forward to try again. My only real question is, Would you advise my having a software program for just downloading to my computer?

  7. Sheri Wood says

    I am a newbie to machine embroidery! I have BrotherSE400. I have down loaded a new font. I was told to select the letters needed from file to spell the name I am embroidering . Load each letter to removable disk. So now they show up on my machine screen. Then save each one individually . Ok NOW how do I use them to spell out my name and sew it up!?!?! Or am I doing something totally wrong?

  8. Chris says

    I bought some patterns online but when I try to open them on my machine it says it’s too large is there away to adjust this?

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