Suggestions for computer?

Hello! I’m Jeremy with my wife Dajah, and we are now owners of the GF Plus! We should be getting it in about three weeks, just had some questions. I’ve read on the forums that both Mac and Windows are tested with the Glowforge, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which computer you go with. But has anyone had a good or bad experience with certain programs on these computers?? Maybe one program works better or is preferred with a Mac over another? Just looking for suggestions on which computer to purchase for the GF. We plan to be building a lot with the GF, if that helps. Thanks for your reply’s in advance!


The :glowforge: UI works in your browser (Chrome is preferred) - so for that it really doesn’t matter. Where it’ll make a difference is in you design programs.

They recommend Inkscape and GIMP because the programs are free - but you will find on this forum that people use practically every program out there.

SO - if you don’t have a computer style you’re already familiar with, and you’ve never used an art program, I would suggest a PC/laptop and installing Inkscape and GIMP.

BUT if you have any experience with a computer style, or any experience with an art program that you like, I would suggest continuing with that.

*personally I use Inkscape (vector) and (raster) as my two art programs


I’d add to get as much RAM as you can. Other than that, get whatever platform you’re already comfortable with.

I use Affinity Designer most (which is available on PC & Mac, as well as iOS), but also use Inkscape and Silhouette Studio because there are a few things I think are more intuitive/easy on those platforms.


I’m a MAC user and it works great for MAC with a Chrome browser. I’m sure it does for a PC too…just sharing mine:-)

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I’ll just add that I prefer to do my design work with a pen stylus vs a mouse - so that’s an iPad or a touchscreen Windows system unless you get a standalone wacom tablet. So your preferred work style might factor in.

(Windows here using primarily illustrator and Sketchup, some Illustrator on iPad as well)

Awesome, thanks for the responses!! The fact that it strictly runs on the type of program rather than the computer definitely makes choosing a computer easier. Thanks again!! Which programs does everyone favor? I’ve seen Inkscape a lot (trying to stay with free programs), but what are some others? I’m not opposed to buying a program, granted it’s worth the pay.

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If you’re going to be doing a lot of photos, I would recommend ponying up for Photoshop so you can install the Actions that @jbmanning5 put together. His photos are legendary on this site :slight_smile:


The Glowforge doesn’t run via a program like other lasers do. It has its own web app ( that will work in pretty much any browser. You’ll want to be able to create/edit SVG files to get full use of your lsaer and that’s where the software comes in, although you can also purchase SVGs on Etsy and in online design shops (Design Bundles, etc.)

Top programs around here are probably Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Affinity Designer, CorelDRAW and Silhouette Studio. There are also some CAD programs people use.

I would second getting Jb’s actions. HOLY smokes they are awesome!

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LOL - I tend to avoid listing individual programs because the list of what folks thinks are most common will vary significantly depending on the individual :stuck_out_tongue: (This is not a swipe at @ChristyM in any way!)

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Hah. I don’t use all of these. They’re just what I commonly see people recommend as a personal preference on here. Also, note that I included almost everything major and then said “and CAD options.” I covered most of my bases, at least. :wink:

Except you don’t list any of the programs I would consider to be under common usage (other than Inkscape), hence my comment. People tend to see names they recognize, and gloss over ones they’re unfamiliar with.

Photoshop, GIMP, PaintNet just off the top of my head.

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I told him he’d need a program for SVGs. That’s why I didn’t include those. I use GIMP myself, but not for creating cut files. I also use Affinity Photo, Adobe Elements, etc.

I also said that these were what I saw as most commonly used. There’s no reason people couldn’t add their own ideas. Ironically, the reason I chose to say it that way was because I was trying to give him more options and not just my favorites.

Yup totes - I just try not to relist the same info over again, and instead link to where it has been covered before. Like I said, I wasn’t trying to call you out in any way.

Fair enough. I find it takes longer for me to find a list than just reshare it, so to each their own. I guess next time I’ll try to be really explicit about them being vector editing programs, though. :wink:

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There’s nothing you can design for a Glowforge that requires any meaningful amount of computing horsepower. Any system built in the last 5 years will meet the needs of a GF user just fine. You could probably extend that to anything in the last 10 years, except then you’re going far enough back the hardware may not be supported by current operating systems. Which you don’t need, except that it’s highly desirable from a “safe computing” standpoint.

Save your money on processors and just make sure you’ve got a SSD. SSDs are a lot faster than HDDs in data transfer, so any computer no matter how old will perform quite a bit better with the simple addition of a SSD. Disclaimer: I make SSDs in my real job. :slight_smile:

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I’m using a Late 09 27” iMac and the last pay to own version of Adobe suite on an OS that stopped upgrading 4? years ago.(still get security updates though.)
Important part is that the browsers still update. I use chrome for GF stuff.

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Awesome!!! Thanks again for the replies, this has really helped us decide on which computer to get (which we are still in debate with). Thanks, and Glowforge on!

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I’ve used macs and PCs simultaneously for the last 23 years at my job. Hands down, I would choose a mac over any PC. They are just more reliable from both the hardware and software side. Pc’s need updated constantly and hardware fails often. Macs are more expensive to fix but break down way less often.
As far as software goes, if you want quick designs and fast learning curve, go with inkscape. If you want long term software that will allow you many more options when designing your own work, go with Illustrator. I pay $20 a month for the Adobe CC Suite which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, Premier Pro and a bunch of other programs. There are lots of tutorials on line and within the software itself too.


And I like using lightburn laser software for some things.