I’m a huge fan of Nik plug-ins, and while many (including me) were a bit concerned when Google bought them out, the Google Nik Collection itself seems to be working pretty well – the addition of Analog Efex Pro at no extra cost was a bonus too.

But the way Google manages downloads, updates and licences is quite different – in fact it’s downright confusing. You have to dig around in the Google help content and online generally to figure out what’s going on, so here’s a quick run-down on how it seems to work.

If anyone has had a different experience, please let me know so that I can update or correct this information.

01 Google manages your licence

You don’t get a licence code with the Google Nik Collection. Instead, Google manages your licence itself. Once you’ve paid for the software or Google has agreed you’re eligible for the licence because you have/had an existing Nik licence, you’ll get an email with a download link for the software. This is a personalised link, not a generic download, so don’t lose it.

Google Nik Collection email

This is what mine looked like. I’ve needed it more than once to download the latest version (more on this shortly), so archive the email somewhere safe where you can find it again.

02 You can’t licence the trial version

The trial version on the Google Nik Collection website is fully functional and works for 15 days. If you decide to buy it (good choice!), you won’t get a licence code. Instead, Google will send you a personalised download link by email (see above). You need to download and install this version all over again.

Google Nik Collection

03 Updates are automatic

Well  they are in theory. The Google Nik Collection doesn’t prompt you with an update message when a new version is available, it just fetches it for you automatically. There have been several updates since it was first launched, and it’s a good idea to check you have the latest because it has been a bit buggy. (An Aperture preview rendering problem seems to have been fixed.)

You can find out which version number you have by starting any of the plug-ins and clicking the plug-in name in the top right corner of the window to display the splash screen. This will show the current version number of the plug-in, but afterwards, in brackets, is the version number for the Google Nik Collection itself, and this is the one you need to check.

Google Nik Collection version

This is what my splash screen for Color Efex Pro looks like. I’m running version 1.1.1.1 which at the time of writing was the latest version.

So how do you know if you have the latest version? You can check on the Google Nik Collection Release Notes page, which lists each iteration, its date and what was changed.

Google Nik Collection release notes

Now according to Google, as soon as a new version is released, your version will be updated automatically. This doesn’t seem to happen straight away, or ever. Google’s documentation does say it will only happen when all the host applications you use it with are closed, which is pretty rare on my machine, so I suppose that’s the explanation.

It looks like Google did update my version recently, but what happens if you have an older version and the update hasn’t happened? There is no manual update option… or at least not an official one.

What I’ve done with previous versions is find my original download email and use the download link again. This appears to download the latest version, which I can then save over the one I had before.

Weird or what?

I don’t like Google’s licensing and updating system much. It’s odd, it’s irritating, and if I was at all cynical I might wonder if it was some ploy for gaining Google some kind of advantage I haven’t yet worked out.

But now that I have (I think) figured out how it all works, I thought I’d share this information in case other Nik fans are as confused as I was.

See also