You don’t need a desktop or laptop computer to use a Cricut machine, but you do need at least a smartphone.
The current Cricut cutting machines (the Maker/Maker3, Explore Air 2/Explore 3, and the Joy) operate using Cricut Design Space. You need one of the following to operate Design Space:
- Windows or Apple computer (desktop or laptop)
- iOS device (iPad or iPhone)
- Android device (smartphone or tablet)
Cricut machines require Design Space software to receive instructions for cutting and drawing projects. Design Space not only tells the machine what pattern to cut, but also selects cutting pressure depending on the material. Design Space also lets you purchase or import pre-made projects, fonts, and images.
The Cricut Joy, the company’s smaller, portable machine, doesn’t even have any physical buttons. The Design Space interface is the only way of communicating with the machine.
The Cuttlebug was Cricut’s only manual die cutter and embosser. It did not require any kind of computer or software. The Cuttlebug was discontinued in 2019, but you can still find some online new or used.
Older Cricuts used cartridges and had touchscreens, working as stand-alone devices without computers. Users purchased cartridges pre-loaded with designs and fonts to create new projects. These legacy machines could also be used with the Cricut Gypsy, a hand-held device with its own software. The Gypsy could be used to store cartridges, make designs, and operate early Cricut machines.
Cricut legacy machines that operate without a computer:
- Cricut Personal
- Expression 2
- Cake Mini
Read more about Cricut’s current machine lineup here.