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The Complete Guide to Using Your New Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine (From Start to Finish!)

The Complete Guide to Using Your New Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine (From Start to Finish!) main article image
Posted on August 18, 2021 by Carrie Christenson

So you’re thinking about (or just did) purchasing a Cricut Explore Air 2 and now you’re wondering “How do I use this thing?!?”  Fear not!  I’m here to help you take those first steps into this new hobby so you can start making.

We’ll go over everything that the Cricut Explore Air 2 does, how you use it, and where to find SVG files.

Table of Contents:

1.  How Does a Cricut Explore Air 2 Work?

2.  6 Things to Know Before Buying a Cricut Explore Air 2.

  1. What can you make?
  2. Is it easy to use?
  3. Do you need a computer?
  4. Does it come with software?
  5. Where can I get free SVG files?
  6. How long does it last?

3.  Setting Up For The First Time

  1. Unpacking the box
  2. How to connect to your computer
  3. How to set up Bluetooth
  4. Software updates
  5. Accessories
  6. Tips on getting started

4.  6 Easy Project Ideas for Beginners

5.  3 Beginner Tutorials for Cricut Explore Air 2

How Does a Cricut Explore Air 2 Work?

cricut explore air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 cuts 100+ materials, including cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on to specialty materials like glitter paper, cork, and bonded fabric. Compatible with 6 tools to cut with precision, write with detail, score like a pro, and foil with ease. With Cricut Explore Air 2, custom cards, T-shirts, home decor, and so much more are just a few clicks away. Use with Design Space app for iOS®, Android™, Windows®, and Mac®.

Here is a video by Joann Fabrics showing what all you can do!

6 Things to Know Before Buying a Cricut Explore Air 2

1.  What Can You Make With Your Cricut Explore Air 2?

The real question is what can’t you make?  You can cut all thinner materials like adhesive vinyl (like a sticker), heat transfer vinyl (you need an iron or heat press to apply), fabric with a backer attached, cardstock, sticker paper, cork, etc.

You can’t cut wood, unbacked fabric, or thicker materials like foam core because it won’t fit under the roller bars and the machine is not powerful enough.  The fabric needs a rotary blade to be cut unbacked without jamming up on the cutting mat.  (You’ll want a Cricut Maker to cut unbacked fabric, read all about it here)

2.  Is it Easy to Use a Cricut Explore Air 2?

Yes!  You need to be a little computer savvy in order for a frustration-free experience but you definitely don’t need to be an expert.  I recommend the Cricut machines for anyone who isn’t the most technology-friendly because Cricut’s software takes a lot of the guesswork out for you when it comes to cutting.

If you are making a predesigned project from their store or uploading your own predesigned SVG file then it’s as easy as resizing the project to size and hitting the continue button.

If you like to create your own designs, you can do that too!  They have text tools, shapes, and templates to help you.

3.  Do You Need a Computer?

Yes and no.  You can use the Cricut app on your phone or tablet!  I personally prefer to use a computer for 3 reasons: Control with my mouse and keyboard, the size of my screen, and all of my fonts and files are on my computer.

4.  Does it Come With the Software?

Yes! You don’t even have to own the machine to download it, only if you want to cut.  Head to this link and sign up for an account (if you haven’t already).  Their software used to be completely web-based but they’ve recently changed to being able to download it to your computer so you can use it offline as well.

5.  Where Can I Get Free SVG Files?

I’m so glad you asked!  There are tons of places online where you can find them, but I would recommend heading to Creative Fabrica and checking out their vast selection of free goodies.  Here is an exclusive link for 5 free SVG files.  They also have free fonts too!  The best part is that all of these files include a commercial license so you can sell your creations legally.

6.  How Long Does a Cricut Explore Air 2 Last?

They will last you years!  They will keep coming out with newer machines every few years, but your machine will continue to work great as long as you take care of it.  Sometimes they offer a trade-in discount to help you upgrade to the latest machine, so keep your eyes peeled for those offers when they roll around.

Setting Up For The First Time:

  • What’s all included in the box?

Your Cricut Explore Air 2 Includes:

  • Cricut Explore Air® 2 machine
  • Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing
  • Fine Point Pen, Black
  • LightGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm)
  • Welcome Book
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
  • 50 ready-to-make projects
  • Materials for a practice project

If you prefer to watch a video of the unboxing, check out these videos:

Paige Joanna – Getting Started 

Craft Test Dummies – Getting Started 

  • How to Connect to Your Computer

The very first time you connect to your computer it’s best to directly plug your machine into your USB port using the included USB cable.  The software will walk you through the steps on your screen.

  • How to Set Up Bluetooth
  1. Turn on your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine
  2. Open your Control Panel/System Configure and confirm Bluetooth is on.
  3. Your machine should show up in your menu as an option, click connect
  4. It should have connected!  If you need a pin, that’s 0000.

Here’s a video that will walk you through Bluetooth setup as well!

  • Update the Software

The first time you plug your machine into the computer while it’s connected to the internet it will check to make sure you’re using the latest version of the software.  If you need an update it will pop up with a window asking you to click the update link and you can follow the on-screen prompts.

  • Accessories

There are lots of accessories you can buy to use with your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine. 

  • Cutting Mats – They come in different grip levels for the type of material you’re using.
  • Blade Options – They have replacement fine blades, deep blades, and fabric blades.
  • Pens – There are all sorts of colors and metallic options you can use with your machine to write instead of cut.
  • Foil Transfer tool – This has a heated tip to transfer foil onto your material
  • Replacement parts – Just in case a new cord or similar is needed!
  • Tips on Getting Started

Learn the basics of using the software, simply open it up and play around, like drawing a shape. 

shapes in cricut screen shot

Test out the Text Tool, you’ll see the options for buying fonts from Cricut, but make sure you select System fonts to use what is installed in your computer.  

text in cricut software

text for cricut software

If you want to get more bang for your buck with buying fonts check out these links!  You can buy individual fonts here, bundles of goodies here, and also sign up for a subscription plan to get nearly unlimited options.

You can play with uploading your own SVG files, patterns, and images too.  This is a step-by-step guide on how to do that.  Here are some links for where to buy more SVG files and again, you can sign up for a subscription for tons of options for one low price.

Now let’s get to the fun part….Projects!!

6 Easy Project Ideas for Cricut Explore Air 2 Beginners

1.  Kids Easter Wall Art

This project shows you how fun and easy it is to create projects with your kids!  All you need is some basic art supplies and your machine to make one-of-a-kind artwork.

Kids Easter craft project

2.  Trendy Leather Earrings

Who doesn’t love affordable jewelry?  This quick and easy project is great for gifts or making earrings to sell and the best part is you can make several all at once if needed.

How To Make Trendy Leather Earrings With Your Cricut Explore

3.  Ribbon and HTV Banners

These are the perfect way to add custom touches to a room or a party!  I love layering banners over mirrors to add a bit more personality and design to my home.

Ribbon banner

4.  Mandala Market Clutch

This is a great heat transfer tutorial!  You can use a blank zipper pouch or bag and add your own personal touches with some mandala SVG designs.

Mandala market clutch

5.  Spring Acrylic Plaque

I love the look of these simple acrylic plaques!  They can be customized for a million different uses like menus, seasonal decor, home decor, etc.

Spring acrylic plaque

6.  Doormat DIY

This is a very on-trend project to learn right now!  You can customize your own coir doormat with witty phrases to greet your guests.


3 Beginner YouTube Tutorials for Cricut Explore Air 2:

1.  Beginner Home Decor Projects

This video shows you how to make a few home decor-type items using your Cricut and vinyl, like a pitcher, labels, and paper flowers.

2.  Getting Set-Up and Decor Projects

She walks you through getting started with your new machine and then makes a candle wrap, pillow, and t-shirt using infusible ink.

3.  How to Write With Your Cricut

This tutorial walks you through how to use your pens with your Cricut machine to have written projects.

I hope all of this was helpful to give you the confidence to open that box and start using your new machine.  Cricut really makes it easy to start making right away with a few clicks of a button.  

Happy Crafting!

-Carrie Christenson


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