Silhouette 101: Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Portrait Questions Answered!

Technology can be an exciting, useful and wonderful tool!  It can also be frustrating at times.  No worries!  I’m here to answer your most frequently asked questions about the Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Portrait!
Silhouette questions answered. Mat and blade questions, how to, Cameo, Portrait

My mat is too sticky- what can I do to make it a little less sticky?

To make a brand new mat just a little less sticky, take a t-shirt and smooth it right onto your mat, then remove.  There will be just enough stick left afterwards!

My mat isn’t sticky enough- how do I make it more sticky?

Wash your mat with some soap and water and then let it air dry.  This should help bring some sticky back.  You can also try wiping it down with a baby wipe to clean off any stuck on debris.  If it’s really not sticky anymore, or if you’ve rubbed off the adhesive, a temporary adhesive spray can help “save” your mat for a while.

My mat keeps slipping around when I try to cut- what am I doing wrong?

Make sure you have your mat centered where the rollers are as far out as they can be while still being over both ends of the mat.   Check the blue lever on the right hand side of your machine as well.  If it is not in the “up” position (with the ending facing towards the top of the machine) then your roller bar is not going to hold your mat on one side and it will make it slide around.

Do I have to always put my mat in with the arrow pointing forward?

No, you can turn your mat around and put it in in either direction.  This actually prolongs the life of your mat!

How do I use a smaller mat on my Cameo?  Can I use a Portrait Mat on my Cameo?

You can use a Portrait mat on your Cameo, just adjust the white rollers.  To adjust the white rollers, just twist the white part and slide the roller over.  This gets easier as you do it though the first time might be a little hard!

How do you adjust the blade settings?

Line the red arrow up on your blade with the red arrow on your cap.  Then twist the numbers to where you want your blade setting.  You can see a visual in our “How to clean a Cameo blade tutorial.

The blade keeps scoring my mat- what am I doing wrong?

A little scoring can be expected, but if you are really cutting your mat, back your pressure up a little or decrease your blade length.  If you’re not careful, you can cut all the way through your mat!

I was cutting some vinyl and see a piece stuck inside the blade housing- how do I clean it out?

No worries- you can open up your blade and you can clean it out in a jiffy!  Check out our tutorial on how to clean out your blade.

What is the difference between the fabric blade and the regular blade?

There is no difference between the two blades aside from color.  Remember when Mom would yell at you for cutting paper with her sewing scissors?  The blue fabric blade is the same idea.  Paper dulls a blade much quicker than fabric or vinyl does, so the fabric blade is a different color to remind you not to use that blade on your paper.  This will prolong the life of your blade and make better cuts in fabric or vinyl.

When I am working with vinyl (regular or heat transfer), should I cut all the way through the backing sheet?

You do not want to cut all the way through the backing sheet when cutting vinyl.  The backing sheet can be used as a transfer sheet with heat transfer vinyl (see a heat transfer vinyl tutorial here).  To transfer a vinyl design, you’ll first want to weed your design and then use transfer paper (sometimes called transfer tape) to move your design from the backing sheet to your surface.  Transfer paper can be reused, so don’t throw it away after one use, just stick it back on your backing sheet!

What is “weeding?”

Weeding is a process of removing all the extra paper or vinyl from your design.  A hook tool is really handy when doing this process.  When you are finished weeding, only your finished design is left.

How can I adjust the white roller on the Portrait to cut a piece of vinyl less than 8″ across?

The white roller part can’t be adjusted on the Portrait.  To cut a piece of paper or vinyl smaller than 8″ on the Portrait, you’re best bet is to use some scotch tape to tape the remnant to your mat.  If you have a Cameo and want to cut using an 8″ mat, just twist the white roller towards you and move it over to the next set of indents.  The first time you do this, it might be a little difficult, but it gets easier as you do it more.

What is the difference between the Portrait and the Cameo?

The two machines use the same software, but the Silhouette Portrait cuts up to 8″ where the Silhouette Cameo can cut up to 12″. They can use the same blades and accessories, the Portrait is just a little smaller!

What is different about the Designer Edition Software?

The Designer Edition Software is an upgrade to your standard studio software and comes from code that we can email to you.  That means no waiting!  Just email our customer service team for more details!  You can also have the actual card mailed to you, if you prefer  The Designer Edition Software features the following:
Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition contains all the same functionality as Silhouette Studio® plus the following designer features:
  • Ability to open, manipulate, and cut .svg files
  • Rhinestone tools to convert designs into rhinestone templates and create your own rhinestone designs
  • Sketch tools to convert designs into several styles of sketchable art
  • Creative knife tools to allow you to clip designs using different patterns
  • Enhanced eraser set to modify designs with more precision
  • Built-in ruler and guide lines for precise alignment and drawing
  • Layers support (including ability to cut by layer)
  • PDF import
  • Nesting feature to allow you to arrange cuts as efficiently as possible—a scrapper’s dream!
  • Shadow tool—allows you to add a drop shadow to printable designs

What type of power cord comes with the machine?  What if I live in a different country?

An American power cord comes with the machine (120 Voltz).  You’ll need a power adaptor if you live in another country with different voltage.  We do carry the European power cord, however.

How do I import a new font into my library?

There are a lot of free font sites you can download fonts from, is my favorite.  Download your font and save it to your computer.  Once you unzip your downloaded file, in your Silhouette software, go to File–> Import into my library then select your file.  This should add your font to your library so you can use it.

What do I do if my machine isn’t finding the registration marks when I print and cut?

Good lighting is essential when using print and cut.  If your machine can’t see the registration marks, turn on a light and that should help.

 I have a download card – how do I enter the code on the card so I can use it?

Go to your Silhouette account (click on the blue S symbol from your left hand menu in your software).  Go to “My Account” then “add a download card to your balance” or “redeem a promotional download.”

What types of writing utensils fit in the ball point pen holder?

A lot of different writing utensils work in the ball point pen holder.  Sharpies, pencils, colored pencils… if it can fit in the pen holder, you can use it!  The pen holder holds any writing utensil that is less than 1/2 of an inch in diameter.

How can I lift my paper without tearing it?

A Silhouette spatula tool is the easiest tool to use to get your designs off your mat without tearing it.  Using a heavier weight paper is also useful with intricate designs.

How do I get my designs back if my computer crashes and I need to reinstall the software?

To get any lost designs, go to your Silhouette account and the go to “Recover all downloaded designs.”  You are only able to use this tool three times, but if you need it more than three times, you can call Silhouette America and ask them for help.

Do you have to have the machine connected to your computer in order to use the software?

If you can save your files as a GSP, which is a specially formatted file, then you can save the file to an SD card and use your machine without it being hooked up to the computer.  Silhouette has this on their Silhouette Cameo FAQ page with  more details.

Do I have to be connected to the internet to use the software or machine?

No, you do not need to be connected to the internet to use the machine, but you do need the internet to access the Silhouette site.

How do I connect pieces of a word I am working on so the machine doesn’t cut through the overlapping parts?

You need to use the weld feature.  Select your entire image you’d like to weld, then click the weld button that is found at the bottom of your screen.  It looks like a little square and circle combined into one shape.  There is a full tutorial on our Baby Shower Inspiration Card!

Did I miss YOUR question?  Leave a comment below and I’ll get you some answers!


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37 Replies to “Silhouette 101: Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Portrait Questions Answered!”

  1. Hi
    I have a Portrait that I love but don’t know much about except to cut. Most videos I have seen only touch on subjects and are still so vague; it’s frustrating since I know it can so much more. Do you have any tutorial suggestions?
    Also I would like to purchase a Cameo 3 since it is bigger and I now have room for it. Will I be able to run both machines at the same time using the same programs. I have 1000’s of files I have downloaded and would love to be able to use them at the same time.

    thank you for all of your help and suggestions

    Kathy Moore says:
    1. Hi Kathy,
      You use the same software for the Portrait as you do for the Cameo machine. If you have Business Edition software, which is a paid upgrade, you can run two machines at once. You can use all your Portrait files with the Cameo though, just plug in your new machine and use the same software, no changes except you can do bigger/wider designs 🙂
      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  2. I have just upgraded to a cameo from a portrait and my cut settings will not change to 12 inch wide no matter what I do, changed page settings etc and still will only cut 8 inch wide, can you help please.

    Diane says:
    1. Hi Diane,
      For the software to recognize that you have the bigger cutter, you have to plug in the machine (use the USB cord) and turn it on. Once it recognizes that you have a Cameo, it will allow you to use the 12×12 mat.

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  3. HELP! I just got the silhouette portrait and I am having a hard time longing my vinyl up on my cutting mat to match what is on my screen. I don’t get where to place my vinyl on my cutting mat for it to cut correctly! I’ve tried adjusting the mat size etc. I’m so confused! Also how do I know how big to position it on my computer screen!

    Kati says:
    1. Hi Kati,
      If you look at your cutting mat, there is a sticky grid section. The top corner of the sticky grid is the top corner of the material box in Silhouette Studio. There is a whole blog post about the cutting mat that might be helpful. Check this out-

      As far as sizing, putting a grid on your design may help you determine sizing. The machine will cut whatever size you want it to cut (within cutting restriction sizes, of course) so if you put a 1 inch circle (for example), it will cut a 1 inch circle. You can scale the designs larger and smaller, depending on the project you are working on. If you need some more help, please send me an email at

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  4. I just got the silhouette portrait — I’m using vinyl and I have it printing/cutting beautifully, but I’m having a hard time getting the designs to release onto the transfer paper (clear sticky to put it on my projects ) — Any help would be appreciated!!!

    sarah calaway says:
  5. Hello. I get so frustrated when I’m trying to select a specific shape and I can’t get it to select because it’s “highlighting” another one. An example is when I have a box and then another shape, let’s say a box, inside it. I click and click and click on the inside box and it continues to pick the outside box. Anyone else have that problem? Is it a super easy fix, I hope? 🙂

    Laura Stricklin says:
    1. Hi Laura,
      There are a few things you can the try to the make the this work easier for you. One thing you can try is to select both the images at once, and then deselect the outside image. You can also try coloring in your shapes with the fill tool. When you color in the shape, you ‘ll be able to select your shape easier.

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  6. I have a Portrait and the white rollers make indentations on my paper that won’t go away. Is there a way to work around it?
    Thank you

    Rhonda says:
    1. Hi Rhonda,
      The original rollers do compress the material somewhat and I haven’t really found a way to get rid of the indent either. The newer machines have different roller bars to help reduce the damage the machine might to do the material.

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  7. HELP! My computer crashed and I’m hoping someone can help me as I have a few projects I need to complete this weekend! I got a new computer but it says version 3 when I download the software and I know I had a higher version than this. I’ve gone to silhouette america and downloaded the latest software but it still says v3 when it opens and my old one said like v3.27 or something like that. When It try to open my completed files I had saved they are all off by about 1/4 inch. Also, my grid is a dark grey and I would like it to be white like it used to be. Anyone know how to change the grid color? I have been on the grid icon and nothing changes it but when I open up my old files it’s white like it used to be but when I go file new it comes back dark grey. PLEASE HELP! I’m sooo frustrated right now!!! Thanks!

    Julie says:
    1. Hi Julie!
      The latest version of the Silhouette software is V3.7.227. There is a V4 coming out soon, but that will not be released until the Cameo 3 comes out in August.

      To change your gird color, click on the Gird Icon in the upper right hand corner, then you should be able to choose the color of the grid that you would like. You may just need to click the “Show Grid” button if you don’t see a grid or if the grid is white.

      I hope this helps! If not, let me know and we can keep working on it!

      Kala says:
  8. when cutting more intricate designs the blade drags some of the paper up which sometimes results in not cutting entire object. Is it pressure, speed or something else.

    Roberta Gates says:
    1. Hi Roberta-
      It really could be a combination of things. I would try a new blade first. If you still have the same problem, you may want to try increasing your speed. Between that, it should work better. Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  9. What way should I put the blade into the Portrait Machine I have seen that some say it can go in any way and other say that it has to go in with the blade on it at 6 o’clock I am confused.
    Can you tell me also how do I avoid double cuts when cutting out lettering on vinyl I have not selected the double cut button but there always seems to be a very fine cut around the letters which is quite difficult to weed out to leave a nice sharp edge to them.
    Thanks in advance

    Margaret Smith says:
    1. The blade has a little fin on it, you always want to make sure the fin is facing outwards towards you when you install it. As far as double cut, is it on all files you cut or just some? It’s possible, if you trace, that there are two lines from tracing? I would have to have more information to really look into this for you, email us if you still are experiencing this so I can look into it more.


      Kala says:

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