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

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Our Readers Respond ...

  1. Kary says

    Hi Kamala!
    Is there a free software that splits a design to be used in a Brother SE425 with the multipositional hoop 4×7? Thanks

  2. Rona says

    I am getting ready to purchase the Brother SE425 and this was a concern to me as I do have a MacBook Pro and was a little upset when it said that it wasn’t compatible with my MacBook. But your blog / tutorial has been a Godsend to me. I am going to go purchase this machine now.

  3. Judee says

    Looking for the prewound bobbins that work with this machine…I have read a lot have problems with the prewound bobbins … do you use them? If so can you link me to the ones that work with this machine? Or tell me the brand and numbers? Thank you Sooooo much!!

  4. Adriana de Adams says

    Hallo Kamala, thank you very much for your explanations. I enjoy learning all you show. Yesteday I bought a Brother SE $00 and I´m learning what to do, so I will read and read all you share with us.
    Kind regards, Adriana

    • Kamala says

      Hello Adriana,
      Welcome to this site and the very fun world of machine embroidery. I’m so glad I can help.
      Kind regards, Kamala

  5. Jen Budde says

    I’m having issues when using Embrilliance and my se400. Anytime I align a design or text off-center, it automatically moves it to center when I transfer it to the machine. It is making me absolutely crazy because I have no good reference on where to hoop. Please let me know if you have a solution.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Jen, I don’t think the design is related to the hoop the way you’re thinking. It’s more of a workspace in Embrilliance. When Embrilliance saves the design, it doesn’t save the whole hoop area. It only saves the design itself. This makes for a smaller file size and saves memory in the SE400. If you open the design again in Embrilliance, you’ll see that it gets centered on the canvas. It doesn’t know anything about offsets or off-center because the only reference it has is the design itself.

      You hoop so that the center of the hoop is where you want the center of the design to be on the item. Or you can hoop and then move the needle to where you want the center of the design.

      Hope this helps,

    • Kamala says

      Hello Yaritza, Please read the tutorial on this page. I show screenshots and photos of using the SE400 with my MacBook. (just skip over the Windows’ screenshots.) For embroidery software, I use Embrilliance because it runs on my Mac.

      • Rona says

        Hi Kamala. How much does this software cost? I have a MacBook Pro myself and don’t want to be limited. I am getting ready to purchase the Brother SE425.

        • Kamala says

          Hi Rona,
          You don’t need additional software for downloading from your MacBook Pro. You will need editing software to merge designs including monograms and using fonts for words, etc. I use Embrilliance because it runs on my Mac (PC version too). They have several versions depending on your needs. I don’t know the current prices.

  6. Shelia Ward says

    I have the SE400 and cannot find where I need to go to down load the .pes program to be able to down load embroidery designs. I don’t have the CD slot in my lap top to be able to watch the 2 DVD’s that came with my machine and I have tried to google help from Brother about this but cannot find that answer. Please help.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Shelia, I don’t understand. .pes is not a program. They are embroidery data files which contain instructions to tell the SE400 how to embroider a particular design. For example, the butterfly design file I used in this tutorial is ATG-SFT003.pes which I downloaded from You don’t need additional software for downloading designs from your laptop. The software is built in to the SE400 and your laptop. Did you read this tutorial? I explain all this with screenshots. The DVDs won’t help you because the USB port is rather an add-on feature and explained in an extra manual called Instruction Manual: USB Connection. But really my tutorial on this page is better which is why I wrote it. ;-)

  7. marissa says

    I have paid for to in stand downloads got the ones I was suppose to downloaded them. They are saying it’s there but it’s not. Getting berry frustrated. I have the brother Se 400 and I wouldn’t recommend it. Way to complicated it’s just been wasting my time and money.

  8. Samantha says

    I still can’t see the designs on my SE400. I tried to resize my work but even when the design is 1in by 1in I can’t see it. Please help

  9. Sandra Shafer says

    Hi, I recently purchased some downloadable designs. I could not use them because they were too large for my embroidery frame, I have an SE 400. The company reconfigured them to fit my frame. I was able to send them to my machine, but only the KB used showed, not the image. I could not get any further with them. Any suggestions?

  10. Cheryl says

    Thank you for this tutorial, as I was having doubts about purchasing this machine. Now I think I will, just for the embroidery, as I have other sewing machines. You took the fear out of the usb to sewing machine besides other very important info. Thanx again

  11. Catrenna says

    I have a Brothers SE425 and when I download a picture that I put in .pes format it only reads part of the picture. What am I doing wrong? I am trying to make patches and it is only reading part of the picture. How do I fix it? Where do I find info to fix it?

  12. Louise Costa says

    I downloaded an embroidery pattern to my brother se400. The screen shows 84/476KB P1/P1. But when I hit the retrieve key, nothing comes up!

    • Charlotte Goodman says

      Louise , Same thing here on my SE400. Mine is 200kb. Does it take longer because the file is so big? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

      • Kamala says

        Hi Charlotte, It shouldn’t take long. The SE400 usually doesn’t recognize it because the design itself is larger than about 3.9×3.9″.

  13. Karen says

    Just purchased a brother PE150 machine and the PED Basic softwear – The softwear has some free designs but after I have used a purchased cd of designs I cannot find the samples again. I haven`t deleted anything, – can you give me some help and tell me what to do to get the free designs back again – Thank you

  14. Chrissy says

    if you googled this trying to figure out why you aren’t seeing your pattern on the screen of your machine (but it shows data used when downloaded) i figured it out!! My pattern was too large for the hoop so it wouldn’t show. Shrink it and retry! You’re welcome!

    • Kamala says

      Thank you, Chrissy. There are other reasons, but that’s the most common. So glad you figured it out. Congratulations!

    • Louise Costa says

      Thanks Chrissy! My book said the pattern would fit in the 4×4 hoop but obviously it’s still to big. This was driving me nuts. Thanks again.

      • Kamala says

        Hi Louise, The actual limitation is about 3.9″x3.9″so your book might not take that into account. I think Brother just rounded it up to 4 inches when they converted from the metric size because it’s an easier number.

    • Francesde1st says

      This might sound like a stupid question but here goes! When you said shrink it and retry , did you mean shrink it with an embroidery software on the computer or did you mean the shrinking button on the se400 sewing machine itself? I’m talking about the button with the arrows pointing in to resize the design.

      • Kamala says

        Hi Frances, you can generally use either method to resize a design. But if the image is larger than 3.9″x3.9″ to start with, you won’t be able to see it in the SE400 control panel and therefore can’t use the built-in resizing functions. In that case, you have to use embroidery software on your computer. Also, the resizing functions built-in to the SE400 aren’t as powerful as embroidery software. So I usually use software for editing. I use Embrilliance because it runs on my Mac (PC version too). If you don’t have embroidery software yet, you can use the free Wilcom TrueSizer Software.

      • Francesde1st says

        Just downloaded a free program. OESD.ARTsizer. Looks like it will do what I need including split designs but have not tried it on the machine itself. Will look into the Wilcom TrueSizer. Thank you .

  15. Elouise says

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