If you search Etsy long enough, you’re eventually going to run across a digital download or printable. You may have avoided purchasing digital files in the past because you’re not sure how it works or what you’ll do once you purchase one.
Or, you might be like me and purchase digital files to decorate your home with wall art, for diy party decorations and invitations, and use them for everything.
After reading this article, you’re not only going to understand what a digital download is, but you’ll also know how to access your digital downloads and how to print them.
Looking for a quick summary? Try printing from Prints of Love if you have time to order online because they make it easy to print digital files and plant a tree after every order. If you want quicker pickup look to a chain store like Walmart or a Cosco who have online services and physical pickup.
What is a digital download?
On Etsy, a digital download can also be referred to as a printable or an instant download.
As Kodak Digitizing points out, a digital download means you’ll click a link and transfer a file to your computer.
When you purchase a digital download, you are not purchasing a physical product. What you’re purchasing is a file. Once you’ve made the purchase, you can use the file in any way you choose and print it as many times as you like.
Digital downloads come in various formats, including PDF, JPG, PNG, SVG, EPS, and more. Each type of file depends on what you need to use it for and how you are going to print it.
For example, some online print services like Walmart only accept JPG or PNG downloads. This means that you should look to purchase JPG or PNG files if you plan to use Walmart to print your photos or other digital file.
What happens after I purchase a digital download?
Once you purchase a digital download on Etsy, you should be able to access the file within a few minutes. Etsy will add the file to your account in the orders section and you can download it on a desktop computer or using a mobile phone and opening etsy.com in your browser.
Etsy will also send an email to the email address associated with your account if you have an Etsy account. The email will include a link to the file that you just purchased.
How do I access my digital downloads?
You can follow the link in your email to go directly to the digital download that you purchased.
To find past digital downloads, log into your Etsy account.
Then get into your account and click on “Purchases and Reviews.” This will take you to a page with all of your previous purchases on Etsy.
Find the digital download you want to access. Next to that item, there should be a button that reads “Download Files.” You will be redirected to the page where you can download the files you need.
If you’re having trouble accessing your digital download, Etsy has a help page to assist you.
Note: You can access digital downloads through the website on a computer or a mobile web browser. You CANNOT access the digital downloads through the mobile Etsy app.
This trips up many people who can’t find their download.
How do I open my digital downloads?
Once you’ve downloaded your digital file, you’ll want to open it.
Etsy currently supports more than a dozen digital file types. The files usually require certain software to open, so you want to ensure you have the right software for each file. Below is a list of the file types currently supported by Etsy. (Source: Etsy) Next to each file type is some of the most commonly used programs that will open that file type.
- .bmp (Microsoft Windows Photos, Apple Preview or Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW)
- .doc (Microsoft Word)
- .gif (Microsoft Windows Photos, Apple Preview or Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW)
- .jpeg (Microsoft Windows Photos, Apple Preview or Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW)
- .jpg (Microsoft Windows Photos, Apple Preview or Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW)
- .mobi (Calibre, Stanza, Sumatra PDF, Mobi File Reader, popular eReaders)
- .mov (QuickTime, iTunes)
- .mp3 (Windows Media Player or iTunes)
- .mpeg (Windows Media Player, QuickTime)
- .pdf (Adobe Acrobat Reader, Most Internet Browsers)
- .png (Microsoft Windows Photos, Apple Preview or Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW)
- .psp (Corel PaintShop Pro, Adobe Photoshop, ACD Systems Canvas)
- .rtf (Microsoft Word, WordPad)
- .stl (AutoDesk Viewer, Microsoft 3D Viewer, Microsoft Print 3D, ShareCAD)
- .txt (Windows NotePad, TextEdit on Mac)
- .zip (Usually, you can unzip a .zip file with any computer.)
- .ePUB (Various eReaders)
- .iBook (Internet browser or Apple iBooks)
How do I print my digital downloads?
There are several methods to choose from when it comes to printing your digital download.
Printing Digital Downloads at Home
Sometimes printing a digital download file is simple. Items like pattern instructions or coloring sheets are usually a standard letter size, which means they fit on an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper.
You can easily print these items on your home or office printer.
Some of the most common issues that arise when printing a file at home include whether the file is black and white or in color and the paper’s orientation. Landscape means the bottom edge of the paper is longer, and the side of the paper is shorter. Portrait means the side is longer, and the bottom edge is shorter.
You also need to understand your printer settings and know whether you should click ‘fit to page’ before printing and how to print multiple files per page if you need to do that. (Here is how to print multiple pages per sheet from Adobe Reader).
Printing at home comes with its drawbacks, however.
“Home color printers are clearly the least expensive option, but as a result, they offer the lowest quality,” writes blogger Foxyoxie.
If you are printing wall art or invitations, you may want to use an online print service like Walmart, Cosco, Prints of Love, Vistaprint or go to a local print shop or Kinkos.
We like Prints of Love because of their policy to plant trees for items printed.
Printing Digital Download Photos
While quality usually doesn’t matter with pattern instructions, it does matter with photos. You can purchase photo paper and print your photographs at home, but you may not like what you get. Instead, turn to higher-quality printers for your digital download photos.
If you have a local Walgreens or Costco, these are probably your best choices. You can upload your digital image files to the company website and pick your prints up when they’re ready. Both Costco and Walgreens have the capability of printing different sizes of photos, which means you’re not restricted to the 8.5” x 11” sized paper your home printer handles.
If you’re willing to pay for shipping, you could also use Shutterfly or Vista Print for your photo printing needs. The nice thing about these is that you can print the photo images on pillows, reusable bags, and mugs.
Printing Digital Download Invitations and Cards
Invitations and cards are other things you probably don’t want to leave to your home printer. You’re looking for something of higher quality, with nicer paper.
In these instances, turn to a mid-level printer like your local FedEx Kinkos or local office supplies store like Staples.
The benefits of this are that you won’t spend as much money as you would on a professional printer, and you’ll receive a higher quality product than your home printer can produce.
The downside is, you may have to print the files yourself or wait longer to have one of the employees print the files.
Printing Digital Download Art
Much like printing photos or invitations, you’re going to want a professional touch on your digital download art. You want something more than what your home printer can provide.
Trust me, I tried to print nursery art at home and it didn’t match the file at all. I ended up using Walmart and was much happier.
Instead of Shutterfly or Vista Print, Ashley at Frugal Coupon Living suggests Staples.
Once you get your digital files printed, you’ll want to add some finishing touches.
Search Etsy for the perfect frame, or head to your local Michaels store, where you can get your digital art and photos matted and framed to your specifications.
What else to consider when purchasing a digital download?
Before you purchase any digital download, you should check two things.
One, that you have the appropriate software to open the digital download. (I run through all the different file types Etsy allows and what you’ll need to open each file type a little further in this article, so keep reading to find out what software you need.)
Two, you need to think about the print size and aspect ratio of the item that you’re purchasing.
The site PosterJack says, “You’ll need to make sure the file size matches; otherwise, you will have to crop the image to get the print size you want. So, for example, if you want your artwork displayed as a 16”x16” print, which has a 1:1 aspect ratio, purchasing a digital download that’s created for a 16”x20” print which has an aspect ratio of 5:4 will not work without cropping it.”
Make sure the digital download fits your needs before you buy.
While purchasing digital files from Etsy may be more work for you, odds are you’re going to see that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Digital files are often cheaper on Etsy than their physical item counterparts. Plus, when you buy a digital file, you can shape it into the exact size you want. In the case of art, you can also choose the exact frame and matting that you want.
What you end up with is an item more customized to your tastes and needs.