Optimize PDF Planner Stickers for Cricut Design Space

Optimize PDF Planner Stickers for Cricut Design Space

Optimize PDF Planner Stickers for Cricut Design Space using Photoshop


Optimize-PDF-Planner-Stickers-Cricut-Design-Space-www.themanuscriptshredder.comMemory planning has taken over craft world, but buying all those supplies is insanely expensive. As a result, my Pinterest feed is full of hundreds of designers who have made their own sticker sheets and posted the files for free. There are sheets themed for every holiday, life event, and even culinary obsession (cupcakes anyone?) I’ve even seen a sheet of little trash can just for garbage day.

Unfortunately, all these sheets are PDF files, and I am not going to spend an hour cutting these little devils out by hand. This job is better suited to my Cricut. In a recent upgrade, Cricut Design Space eliminated the option for importing PDF files. This was no loss because the limited tools made this process clunky and the results were poor quality. Fortunately, these pages are simple to optimize in Photoshop Elements.

Using Photoshop Elements will create a file Design Space can recognize

In this tutorial, I will show you how to modify those PDF files using Photoshop Elements to import correctly in Design Space. You can either watch the video or follow the steps below.

The file I use for this tutorial is by designer Maryam Nasim. I find her designs produce the best results with this method. The example file is available from this post. I would also recommend you browse the rest of her site for more ideas and fantastic sticker sheets.

Open PDF in Photoshop Elements

The program will default to 8 1/2 x 11
Click ok

Remove white background from file

Step 1 Select white space surrounding sticker elements

Select magic wand tool
Set tolerance to 0
Click inside the white space to select

Step 2: Refine selection (if necessary)

Check your selection to make sure you have not selected any white areas inside your stickers

Notice how the selection has crept into the sticker
Notice how the selection has crept into the sticker

Click selection brush
Click “subtract” option

use the subtract options to remove things you wish to save from the selection
use the subtract options to remove things you wish to save from the selection

Remove any areas that are part of the stickers from your selection

With the selection removed from the owl's hat, he won't lose his puff ball
With the selection removed from the owl’s hat, he won’t lose his puff ball

Step 3 hit delete

This will remove the white background surrounding your pictures. Now the Cricut will recognize them as individual images and will cut them out. Finish the step by clearing the selection. (Select-Deselect, or command D)

Remove unwanted elements from the file

Two methods:

Use the crop tool to remove anything you don’t want your Cricut to cut out


Use the eraser tool.

In this example, I removed the logo and the licensing info from the side. If you don’t remove these, the Cricut will attempt to cut out all those tiny little letters. It won’t ruin your cut, but it will take forever.

Save the file as a PNG

You must use a .png file. If you save it as a pdf, Photoshop will add a white background to your image and you have lost all your work, and Design Space no longer allows PDFs.

select: compression= none, interlace= none

Make sure you save your file as a PNG
Make sure you save your file as a PNG

*Tip: If you need to preserve the larger size, i.e. for Erin Condren or The Happy Planner, you will need to do these additional steps.

  1. Crop the image to half size and “save as”
  2. “Undo” the crop
  3. Crop the other half of the image and “save as”
Turn the single page into two, by cropping and saving

If you import your image as a single page, Design Space will only allow you to print up to 9.25″ x 6.25″ images. This means the individual stickers will be too small to fit in your planner.

Now you are ready to upload into Design Space.

Open Design Space in your preferred browser.

Click: New project
Click: Upload image

Upload image
Upload image

Click: Browse and select your PNG file

simple images will import faster and more cleanly
simple images will import faster and more cleanly

Select: Simple image

Since you uploaded a PNG there is nothing to select and erase

Click: Advanced options-Reduce colors-unmodified

Choose unmodified to keep at the details of your image
Choose unmodified to keep all the details of your image

It will take longer to render, but you will have better-looking results. You can play around with this option. The fewer the colors, the faster it will upload. Since the program is painfully slow at this step, it’s a compromise between image complexity and your personal patience level.

When you are satisfied, click “continue”

Now the waiting begins

How long? that depends on the image. This step took a full minute before the “save” option turned green. Use the time to title and tag your image. Then, sip some coffee.

Choose: “Print then Cut” and then hit save. This is the default setting. (Do not click on the “save as cut” option. You will be sad later.)

After I clicked save, it took Design Space a full five minutes for it to finish. I know it’s just sitting there, but don’t refresh the page, just let it work. Walk away if you have to.

Your image should now be ready to use in Design Space.


Because Design Space is so slow, it’s critical to optimize your images before you attempt to import them. This will save you literally hours of frustration and wasted time and will help guarantee that after all your efforts you will have a usable file.

Some tips to make your project a success:

  1. Choose images that have fewer colors. i.e. less shading and detail as these take longer for the program to upload
  2. Look for images that have a defined border. Watch out especially for white elements that connect to the edge of the sticker
  3. Look for images that have whitespace between all the elements. Many designers will place elements against each other (especially washi tapes). The Cricut will interpret these as a single image rather than cutting them into individual strips

Hopefully, this tutorial will help you make better use of all that free material available out there and turn your projects into a source of fun, rather than frustration.

Happy Crafting

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