Google Makes It Official: The Nik Collection is Dead (and my Q&A)

Hi, everybody. Sorry I missed out blogging on Friday – my wife and daughter flew up to New York City to meet me Friday morning (I was already up in NYC on business), and I got all caught up in that. We had a blast (saw two awesome shows: ‘Wicked’ and ‘School of Rock’ and took a hilarious tour of NYC called ‘The Ride’ – highly recommended).

Anyway, I’m back and of course, on Friday (as luck would have it) all hell broke loose when Google added a disclaimer to their download site for the free Nik Collection of plug-ins, that they would no longer be supporting it moving forward. If a new OS from Apple or Microsoft is released and it breaks the Nik Collection from working, they’re not going to fix it. Or, if a new version of Photoshop or Lightroom stops it from working, they’re not going to fix it. Or if a stiff wind comes along, and it breaks the Nik Collection they ain’t fixin’ it). Tip of the hat to DPReview for uncovering that.

Well, long time Nik Collection users are (me being one of them) are pretty much freaking out, so I thought I’d do a quick Q&A about it here on the blog-a-roonie:

Q. Didn’t Google pretty much say the same thing when they first released the Nik Collection for free? 
A. They did. They said, in kind of a soft-sell way, that they weren’t going to support further development of the collection.

Q. So we kind of already knew this?
A. Yeah, we pretty much did. I wrote about that in my Q&A the day they made the initial “free” announcement, back in March of 2016.

Q. So what exactly did you say in that Q&A about it?
A. Well, I answered a “Q” with an “A” (see below).

Q. Does this mean that future updates for this collection have ceased?
Based on what I’ve read, I absolutely think that is the case, but I haven’t confirmed it with anyone inside Google yet.

Q. So, what if I download it today, and then there’s a major Mac OS or Windows update down the road and then it doesn’t work anymore. Will Google do an update to fix it?
A. Not as best as I can tell, so use it today and enjoy it for as long as it works.

Q. Will Google ever release a Nik Collection Version 5?
A. I would love that, but based on their post about why they are making it free, it seems fairly clear that their desktop plug-in days are over (that was my take on it anyway).

Q. So, how much longer will it still work?
For some folks, it’s already too late. I’ve seen posts and gotten emails from people who have told me straight up that when they updated something and the collection stopped working. They have some sort of configuration (maybe it’s a particular graphics card with a particular OS update, of what-have-you), but it broke their Nik world. I hate to hear that (and I worry about it myself because I’ve been a Nik Collection user for years. In fact, I did an entire KelbyOne online class on how I use the Nik Collection (and released it just a few days after Google made their “Free” announcement).

Q. So, if they already alluded to the “we’re not updating this stuff anymore” situation when they released the free version, how come everybody is freaked out now?
A. Because Google added the “we’re not updating this stuff anymore” text right to the downloads page itself, so it’s more official and scary looking. Plus, I think we all hoped that Google wouldn’t really just leave us hanging like that and that they actually would, in fact, update the software when push came to shove.

Q. Yeah, but you’re saying people are already having issues with the Nik Collection working?
A. Right. So, push has already come to shove – and apparently enough people with problems contacted Google for help that they felt they needed to put a disclaimer on their downloads Website.

Q. Maybe Google is understaffed and doesn’t have someone available that could patch the software?
A. That’s entirely possible, but at last count, Goggle had around 62,000 employees (but that’s from last year. It’s probably more by now).

Q. So they have 62,000+ employees, but they can’t spare one to simply fix this plug-in that is beloved by so many people?
A. Apparently not. If Google wanted to assign one, or even one thousand, Google certainly could and probably not even notice they were missing — but apparently, they don’t want to devote even one single engineer to fix it, or they would, right? This is a business decision for Google (no longer supporting the Nik Collection), and I get it — it doesn’t fit into their plans/strategy moving forward. I’m not happy about it, but I do understand it.

Q. But isn’t there a petition on asking Google to at least to a maintenance update?
A. There sure is. Here’s where you can sign it.

Q. Did you sign it, Scott?
A. Absolutely!

Q. So, do you think if enough people sign this petition, it will convince Google to change their mind?
A. No. Not a chance. I believe that Google has no interest in the Nik Collection whatsoever. I believe the most work that has been put into the existing Nik Collection since 2012 was them putting up the notice that they’re not going to support it any longer.

Q. This reminds of when you said on “The Grid” right after Google bought Nik Software — you didn’t think Google bought Nik because they wanted to get in the business of selling plug-ins for Photoshop. I remember you saying that.
A. Yup, I did. I said I felt they bought Nik pretty much just for their Snapseed mobile app (which is awesome), and that I didn’t see them continuing to develop the Nik Collection as desktop plug-ins.

Q. And at the time, how did the Google/Nik folks react to you saying that?
A. I believe it was the catalyst for them installing a dartboard set with my photo on it.

Q. Yeah, I heard about that. Didn’t they even send two Google/Nik employees to be guests on The Grid to refute what you were saying?
A. They did, and they were masters at not answering my direct questions about will there be a Nik Collection 5. I made the joke on air that they were so skilled at not answering the question, that they should consider becoming politicians.

Q. So did they ever release that Nik Collection version 5?
A. Senator, I plead the 5th on the grounds that I don’t want to yell “I told you so!” so loudly that it knocks their dartboard set off the wall.

Q. Maybe, since Google doesn’t want it, they’ll give it to Adobe, and they could add it to Lightroom or Photoshop?
A. Ahhhhh, if only the software industry worked like that on any level. What a wonderful world it would be. It’s more likely that Google would assign 200+ engineers to update it than it would that they give it to Adobe or anyone. That’s not how multi-billion dollar software companies roll. I don’t want to whine too much – they did give us for free what was once a $499 collection of plug-ins (and they added another plug-in to it; the Analog Efex plug-in that everybody was hoping for. Stop snickering). ;-)

Q. So, all that aside, where does that leave us now?
A. We’re pretty much hosed. It is over. If your Nik Collection hasn’t stopped working yet, it’s like I said, “Enjoy it while you can” because it’s death is a-comin’.

Q. So, what’s your plan?
A. You might have already noticed that I’ve been transitioning over to using MacPhun’s Luminar plug-in. It has a lot of the same type of effects as Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 (which was their plug-in many pros I know relied upon — that and SilverEfex Pro for black and white conversions). It’s only been out since late last year, but it’s already had over 4-million downloads on the Mac alone, so it’s pretty much just taken off.

Q. Yeah and that’s why I didn’t switch to them earlier — they don’t have a Windows version.
A. Well, now they do (MacPhun announced it a week or so ago, and it’ll be shipping very soon).

Q. So, it’ll be on both Macs and PCs now?
A. Yup!

Q. Well, are you going to do a class on these as you did on the Nik Collection?
A. I’m on it. In fact, I’m in the studio taping it this week.

Q. How does it compare to the Nik Collection?
A. I think it compares closest to the Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 plug-in (well, it should be – some of the guys from MacPhun used to be “the guys from Nik Software”).  It has many of the same types of effects I went to Color Efex Pro 4 for, like: glows, detail enhancement, bi-color gradients, high-key effects, black and white conversions (not quite as good as Silver Efex Pro, but still good), Advanced Contrast, Structure, Polarizer, all that stuff (though it doesn’t have a straight-up Bleach Bypass effect, I think there’s a preset that gets close, but I will miss that effect from ColorEfex Pro 4. It doesn’t have “Tonal Contrast” by name, but it has the look (they call theirs “Structure”).

Q. Anything it does better?
A. It has lots and lots of presets (a lot that comes with it, and others that are downloadable), and the user interface is better (except for the pictures they use for the presets icons – they look very “consumerish” to me). It has a good Layers feature, so that’s pretty huge for Lightroom only users and their masking tools are really good. It’s got a spot healing tool that’s not bad (again, if you’re Lightroom only), and you can use it as a stand-alone app if you like (it doesn’t have to plug-in to Lightroom or Photoshop, but that’s how I use it exclusively).

Q. Anything worse?
A. It loads a lot slower when you first launch it. I’ve whined about it to them like a thing that whines a lot. I imagine it will get faster soon due to a bunch of whining [not just mine alone, but I can whine with the best of ’em when it comes to software], and if not, the whining will continue, (but much louder).

Q. So, if you’re telling us about which plug-in you’re switching to, I’m picking up a vibe that you feel like the Nik Collection might be ‘going away.” Am I right?
A. No. that’s not the ‘vibe’ I’m putting down. The vibe I’m putting down is the ‘death vibe.” Google said it — they are not supporting the Nik Collection any longer. It’s over.

Q. Scott, now you are starting to freak me out because maybe I’m reading between the lines here, but it sounds to me like you’re hinting that the Nik Collection may not have a very bright future.
A. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying “it has no future, and is dead now.”

Q. Maybe I’m jumping the shark here, but it kinda of sounds like you’re intimating that the Nik Collection may stop working for some people some day soon.
A. It has already stopped working for some folks now, and the reason is — it’s dead.

Q. But it sounds like you do think that Google will step in and save the day by assigning some engineers to do a maintenance update so we can keep using the Nik Collection, right?
A. No. I do not think that on any level, nor have I ever thought that, not even for a minute. I hoped it. I wished it, but that train has left the station.

Q. So, if I’m reading you right here, you just said Google is ‘training’ someone to update the Nik Collection? Is that what I’m getting from this?
A. You need to talk to someone.

Q. Are they at Google in the Nik Collection update department?
A. Sigh.

Well, folks, I don’t know what else to say. The train has left the station. The horse has left the barn. That dog don’t hunt. Fill in your own folksy phrase for “it ain’t gonna happen” here: ______________________. Hey, we still made images before the Nik Collection was even around, and we’ll be making ’em after they’re gone — we’ll just use a different set of plug-ins. Life goes on.

I hope you found this Q&A somewhat:

a) Helpful
b) Cathartic
c) Karmasutric
d) All of the above

Here’s wishing you a day where all your plug-ins work in perfect peace and harmony [insert gong sound here].


Seat 11C, 33,000 feet
Feel free to move about the cabin, inc.

  1. Yep, I knew Nik was going to be dead when Google bought them. I finally uninstalled all the Nik plugins last month and did a complete reevaluation of my toolsets. I checked out On1 Photo RAW, Luminar, Topaz Studio (in beta), and Perfectly Clear. I really want to like Luminar and hoping it would win out for me, but at the end, On1 Photo RAW was just much faster and more features complete.

    Scott, any opinions on On1 Photo RAW? Your friend, Matt Kloskowski, seems to be a big fan ;-) !

      1. There is always downloading a free trial. :) OK I know business is business and will let it go at that.

    1. Hi Ben. I’m at that same place – I’m thinking of doing an uninstall just so I don’t think of leaning on them when I know I should be using something else. I never got an eval copy of Photo RAW, so I can’t compare the two, and now I’m deep in the Luminar. I just use it for effects (not RAW processing or anything like that), so Photo RAW might be overkill for what I want to do. Not sure, but maybe I’ll take a look at it. Thanks for the heads up. :)

      1. Scott, same boat. I was looking for something to use only for effects. I am sticking with Lightroom for RAW processing, asset management, etc. To make a long story short, I was using their Photo 10 (previous version) but was never impressed with the speed and the amount of memory it consumes. Very skeptical initially of Photo RAW and heard all kinds of horror story about how buggy it is. I finally gave in and try it along with Luminar and others. To my surprise, I was very impressed at the speed of RAW. Much faster than Luminar. Again, I really wanted to like Luminar because of its beautiful interface, but at the end, it just doesn’t have the masking capabilities and other features I need (e.g. one of them being a very basic vignette effect that you cannot change the center point).

        Photo RAW is built from the ground up to leverage the GPU for speed. I was using it on my old 2013 Macbook Pro and it was already very fast. Now I am curious how fast it will go with a new AMD Ryzen 5 (6 cores) CPU and a Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU!

        As one of the commenters said, “Ask Matt!”. I am sure he will give you a copy?

      2. I have used the On1 software for a long time; there have been a few bugs along the way and initial software was pretty slow, but Photoraw has pretty much everything you could ask for. I stop using NIK soon after Google bought them and switched to and early version of the On1 software. I will say this flatly, with the coming release of Photo Raw 2017.5, it can easily work as a very effective replacement for Lightroom. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel PhotoRaw is on its way to moving past being a plug-in to becoming a very good stand alone product and their support is FAR better than Adobes and Google’s. Anyone with a brain, knew Google would ditch NIK, that is why many moved away from NIK long ago.

      3. I love On1 and have been using then since about v. 7. Very good plugins, however they’ve added a lot more stuff to be independent from any other host software in recent upgrades.

        That’s fine with me, but I don’t really use that stuff unless I just am playing around to see what happens.

        However my RAW editor continues to be Lightroom with some ACR as a filter thrown in.

        I’ve invested LOTS of time, money and effort into Adobe LR/PS and the Creative Cloud and have no plans to change my primary workflow (at least not until Google buys Adobe – UGH!!!)

      4. I had originally purchased the entire NIK suite, only used a small part of it.
        I agree Oni has a lot and frankly has become more stand alone like than ever before. But Lightroom is buggy and I do not feel like it is well supported. My recent interaction with Adobe Support was not one that no one should have to accept. The bottom line overall is I like Lightroom’s cataloguing and that is all I do in Lightroom anymore. I jump to Photoshop might use Camera Raw, but often go straight to On1 and then back to Photoshop to save and/or print. On1 support has improved from slightly below average to excellent over the years. I have used it since they have been in existence. I do fear, somebody big, is going to make On1 a offer they cannot refuse to either compete against Adobe or to get rid of competition. On1 does work great with my video card and is now very fast. Do bugs still exist; probably but not serious show stoppers as far as I can tell.

  2. For those of us that paid money for the software when it was still owned by Nik, this is horrible news. and I had paid not too long before google purchased the software, so I feel ripped off.
    But I would gladly pay again, to have the software supported. I just don’t see any other software being as easy or flexible to edit photos. I absolutely hate losing what I feel is an advantage in photo editing.
    and I’ve never been able to figure out a Lightroom preset or anything else that will give me what the Pro Contrast Dynamic Constrast filter gives me.

    1. Ditto Les! If Google had wanted to they could have had some Nik engineers come over in the deal, kept it a paid suite, and continued developing and profiting from it.

      BTW, for those who are choking over the $500 cost, that was for fist time buyers. I don’t remember the upgrade cost, but it was substantially less! I want to say it was around $200-ish, but it’s been a while. Still not chump change, but a fair price for a great product,

      I’ve surprisingly really liked the Google upgrades to Snapseed! Just imagine if that technology could have been applied to upgrading the Nik Collection?

  3. So you found a replacement for ColorEfex and SilverEfex, that’s a start.

    Any ideas about Viveza 2? If I could find a way to replicate that in PS and make it an action would be a good start. I guess I better get experimenting.

    1. Not yet, but I haven’t used Viveza for a while now. I remember really liking their structure feature, but that had that in other Nik plug-ins, so I mostly used it there. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything (also, let me know what you come up with in your trials). Thanks. :)

      1. Yes I use it mostly for structure, but also to warm up and slightly brighten images – the shadow brightener was also better than LR IMO.

      2. What do you think of MacPhun’s Tonality? It’s come up a few times in this discussion and I’ve been eyeing it for a while.

        Unfortunately I can’t run it on my crappy Windows machine, but when I get a Mac someday SOON I’m going to be all over MacPhun’s stuff!

      3. I just had a go with Luminar, and I think this can replace how I used Viveza 2, so at least I have options now.

      1. Scott, have you tried Noiseless from Macphun? What were/are you thoughts compared to Dfine?

  4. They obviously have thought from the beginning that autonomous cars are $$$ “waymo” important.

    INFIDELS ! :)

    I’m gonna miss Silver Efex Pro when it quits working, but will enjoy whatever time I have left…

  5. I guess I’m going to download my photoshop elements program to my old windows xp computer and download the nik collection to that. That way nothing will ever be updated!

  6. so if you have done editing on a round trip through LR and PS, you will never be able to go back and re-edit them again? Thank God I learned from you guys to covert to smart object. This is making me really ill.

    1. That depends – it’s still working for a lot of folks – it depends on which version you have, which OS, etc., whether, and how long, it will keep working for you. The news is – if and when it breaks, they ain’t fixing’ it.

      1. Frankly not supporting it for Windows 10 or Mac OS Sierra pretty much means most of us are out of luck if/when it quits working!

    1. Allison, for Color Efex you can check out MacPhun Luminar according to Scott or two options I like are AlienSkin Exposure X2 or DXO Optics Pro 11.

    1. Andy, yes it was $500 WELL SPENT dollars at the time. There is a cost to research and development, providing customer training and tech support and marketing the product.

      You can clearly see the effect of reducing the price to $149 and then giving it away!

      If you happened to get it for free, congratulations! Your plugin suite is now worth exactly what you paid for it!

  7. It is a very real possibility that since all most all of Googles software is opensource, that anyone that wants to can get the source code and take over maintenance. I would but I never used it so yea. But give up hope, only if you believe software really dies.

      1. What a lot of people don’t know is that Nik had a substantial IP portfolio that Google also got w/ the acquisition. I’m only guessing here, but I’d bet a lot of that has been put to use in other Google tech by now (not just Snapseed and Google Photos), which might make open-sourcing it difficult.

  8. I hated it when Google bought Nik as I had a feeling the only thing they wanted was Snapseed. Put a bunch of people out of work. I was happy to get the two programs I didn’t have when they started giving it away, and now I’m royally pissed off. Mergers and Acquisitions is not always a good thing. Wish the developers could buy it back.

  9. Scott – Silver Efex Pro was the Nik tool I used the most, by far. You seem to have mixed emotions for Luminar’s b&w tools now that Silver Efex is on it’s way to the scrap heap … any other reasonable b&w options in your toolkit?

    Also, I do very little HDR, but I put up with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro when I need to (when I started doing the occasional HDR, I had paid money for Nik, so I didn’t look elsewhere to support my limited use). I don’t like the LR 6.x / LR CC HDR tool … any preferred HDR options in your toolkit?

  10. On One should try to buy it from Google at a good price and incoperste some of the better presets in Color Efex and Silver Efex. It seems nuts that a product so many folks want is tossed in the trash! I’ll pay for an update and I bet I’m not alone.

  11. A very sad day Scott! I’ve been bummed all weekend! At least you got to enjoy some quality time with your family in the “Big Apple”! Glad it was a good time!

    I’ve got a couple decent alternatives to Color Efex …AlienSkin Exposure X2 and DXO Optics Pro – plus I’ll be checking out Luminar.

    However of greater concern to me is a good replacement for Silver Efex and HDR Efex. I see that Photomatix just released version 6 so is that my best HDR option outside of PS/LR now?

    I really don’t know of another decent B&W plugin that holds a candle to Silver Efex. Does either On1 or Topaz have anything in the “ballpark”?

    1. (full disclosure – I’m with Macphun, formerly with Nik). Give Aurora HDR 2017 a try for your HDR needs, and Tonality for your black and white conversions. We designed Tonality in particular to be the “successor” in features/workflow to SEP.

      1. Thanks Kevin.

        I actually love what I see coming out of MacPhun. Tonality and Noiseless are two more apps I hope you will make cross platform.

        At my next upgrade, I am going Mac, however for now I’m still on Win 10!

        Definitely will be picking up Aurora when it releases and possibly Luminar, although I am still trying to see what that app can do.

        Tonality really looks awesome and I can’t wait to have a system I can run it on. Still need something for Windows at the moment however!

      2. Thanks for the kind words. We’re working hard on all fronts! ;-)

        The noise reduction is pretty good on Luminar, so I think you’ll be in good shape there.

        I feel like we’re a stone’s throw away from having a very large percentage of Tonality replicated in Luminar. Tonality is still very “purpose-built” for B&W if you know what I mean, but Luminar is super-close in practiced hands.

        Cheers, Kev

      3. Thanks for your insight Kev. It makes me feel good to have an actual form Nik guy to talk with at MacPhun. If you don’t mind, I’d like to be able to maintain our online communication. I’m not sure exactly where we are bending the rules with what we put online, but if this is inappropriate, perhaps Scott of the Blog Police will take it down.

        In the interim, my email address is Hopefully you can capture that before it disappears from the blog. Drop me a quick email to let me know you got it and hopefully we can keep in touch as I zero in on my needs and your products.


      4. Hey Kevin, in Color Efex the Contrast Color Range, Pro Contrast and darken/lighten center filters we’re all major parts of my workflow. I’m gonna give Luminar a shot – are there similar filters to look for to replace these in Luminar?

  12. As much as it hurts, the easiest thing for me to do is just uninstall it, find replacements and move forward.

    I don’t want to keep using it and living in limbo waiting for the day it breaks!
    If by any miraculous chance it should ever be revived somehow, I will be back in a heartbeat.

    Just one last thought before I give my beloved collection a fond farewell….GOOGLE SUCKS!!!

  13. Let’s see: “The toothpaste’s outta the tube…” “The sh**t’s outta the horse…” And my favorite Chick Hearn quote (though not quite the same meaning), “The mustard’s off the hot dog!”

      1. “The mustard’s off the hot dog” actually referred to times when a basketball player fumbled the ball or missed a pass, or something similar. It’s one of the great “Chick-isms” from the late, great, Hall of Fame Laker broadcaster Chick Hearn.

  14. That sounds familiar… Oh yeah! I read about it in a newspaper: “The plane crew failed to keep one of the passengers from jumping off the plane over some photo plug-ins. He jumped right onto the stairs brought by the airport personnel up to the plane’s door” :)

  15. I already have an issue where if you have a RAW image open in photoshop as a smart object and load NIK Colorefex4 as smart filter, you get a black box and freeze. Very sad as that was my way to use save-able and future re-adjustable NIK filters for a long time.

    Anyone have a workaround?

    1. I gave yoiu a single arrow up, however that is so inadequate. I want to be able to give you about 10,000 arrows up. Talk about the “evil empire”! Where is Luke when we need him?

  16. One thing that nobody else does are the NIK “Control Points”. It is a unique feature that permeates all NIK software, including Viveza. I used that feature all the time, and I will miss it very much. No other masking tool -that I know of- equals that today.

  17. So far, the fix for the Nik plug-ins not working after an update is to
    uninstall and then reinstall. This has fixed this issue the two times I
    have encountered it.

  18. The main problem looking for a replacement, is that there are several alternatives, but these alternatives, like On1, Luminar, etc. are not really alternatives to just the NIK Photoshop Plug-Ins, but they include a whole image processing Suite. Those of us who use the Lightroom+Photoshop combo, and wish to to continue using it, have no use to a whole new image processing Suite product. What we need, and want, is just the Plug-Íns replacement part, and that´s not available as such, that I know of. That is the real problem.

  19. Pretty much you always talk awesome Scott ;-) I’ve decided to go mostly Luminar and try and emulate my Nik workflow now, rather than wait for it to die. Remember how cool Nik was when it came out? Sigh.

  20. This is all bad but I sucked it up after two whiskies last night and downloaded Luminar. I would love to work out how to duplicate the results I can get from Silver Efex’s Soft Contrast slider in either Lightroom or Luminar. Any thoughts?

  21. Scott,

    Could you please buy NIK from Google and maintain it. PLease Please Please… Do some crowdfunding with some techno geeks. I would pay for upgrades…

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