Using Google Nik Software as a STANDALONE program – Part 01

01 Downloading and Installing Google Nik Software

As I mentioned in my previous post, Google has bought the original Nik software, and as of March 2016, it is now available for free. Which is a wonderful opportunity for amateur and semi professional photographers who are operating on a tight budget. As I heard described recently, using software such as Adobe Photoshop, is like driving a basic model Mercedes car, everything is good quality, but relatively basic……….. but using Google Nik software is like driving a Rolls Royce, the quality of the end product is second to none!!!

For those of you without Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture programs, you can use the Google Nik software as a standalone set of plugins. To download the Google Nik Collection, go to

and click on the ‘Download’ button at the top right of the page. The Nik Collection can be downloaded for both Windows or for a Mac…………..I use a Windows pc, so I will be primarily describing the process for the Windows download.

The software will automatically download to your downloads folder. To access your Downloads folder on a Windows pc, click on the Start button, then locate and click on your user name. A new window will open, double-click on the Downloads folder. The file will be called something similar to “nikcollection-full-1.2.11”.

Download Folder on Windows PC, showing Nik Collection download

Download Folder on Windows PC, showing Nik Collection download


To access your Downloads folder on Mac, open your Finder and click on the Downloads folder, which is most often in the list on the left. The file will look something like “nikcollection-full-1.2.11.dmg” and end with a ‘.dmg’ extension.



  1. To install, double click on the Nik Collection file, if necessary press ‘run’ if a security pop-up appears, then click on ‘yes’ to allow software to make changes to your pc, and finally choose your appropriate language to start the set-up process.
  2. Follow the instructions from the pop-up window, ‘Welcome to the Nik Collection Setup’.
  3. The software requires at least 425Mb of free space on your hard drive. I saved the plugins to the location Google suggested, ie, C:\Program Files\Google\Nik Collection.
  4. During the setup process, you will be asked for ‘compatible host applications’, ie programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Apple’s Aperture, but since we are using this software as a standalone application, we can just ignore this, and press install.
  5. The software will then install to the appropriate location on your pc…………..this may take several minutes depending on the speed and size of your pc (Be Patient!! It’s well worth it!).
  6. Click ‘finish’ to complete the setup.



Now to use any of the Nik Collection Software Plugins

  1. Go to computer folder, and then locate Program Files.
  2. Locate and open the ‘Google’ folder.
  3. Find the appropriate plugin folder, and double click on the plugin application file.
  4. This will open the plugin software.
  5. In the top left corner of the running plugin, click on ‘file’.
  6. From the drop down, and press ‘open images….’
  7. Go to the location of the image you wish to edit and click on it to open it in the Nik Collection software plugin (see screenshot – in this case the Silver Efex Pro plugin) .
Silver Efex Pro 2 Plugin in use

Silver Efex Pro 2 Plugin in use


Another method of opening your images in the Nik Collection plugins, is to

  1. Go to the location of the image you intend to edit.
  2. Then open a second folder and go to ‘Program Files’.
  3. Locate and open the ‘Google’ folder.
  4. Open the appropriate plugin folder.
  5. If we want to use, for example, the Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin, open that folder.
  6. To open the image in the software, left click on your image.
  7. Drag the image over the top of the Silver Efex Pro 2 application file and release it. (See screenshot below).
  8. Wait a small amount of time, and your image will open up in the appropriate plugin, in this case, inside the Silver Efex Pro 2 software.
Drag and drop your image over the appropriate Nik Collection plugin application file

Drag and drop your image over the appropriate Nik Collection plugin application file


As a word of warning, once you have finished editing your photo, go to ‘file’ (top left), and click on ‘save image as…..’  and MAKE SURE YOU CHANGE THE NAME OF THE ORIGINAL IMAGE……………otherwise the software will automatically overwrite the original file. The same will happen if you use the ‘Save’ button at the bottom right of the plugin. To be sure that this doesn’t happen, always MAKE A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL IMAGE BEFORE STARTING IMAGE EDITING!!!


My next post in this series will be
“Basics of using Google Nik Silver Efex Pro 2”



If you have any questions about this process, or comments in general, please let me know in the section below, and I will endeavour to answer them.


15 thoughts on “Using Google Nik Software as a STANDALONE program – Part 01

      • I would thoroughly recommend the Nik Collection Gilly, it takes a bit of time to get used to, there’s 7 different plugins/pieces of software, each does something different to your photos, the Silver Efex Pro is amazing for black & white conversions, the other plugins are almost as good. If you give it a go, please let me know how you get on, and please feel free to ask as many questions as you want 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you’ve manage to start using it Gilly, you’ll find there are lots of videos on you tube etc with tutorials about using it, there are just soooooo much you can do with all 7 plugins, I’ve only just got to grips with the Silver Efex Pro plugin! 🙂 And as I said before, if you have a question or a hundred questions, I’ll be very happy to try and answer them 🙂


  1. Pingback: Black and white Sunday, repetition – Lucid Gypsy

    • Glad you too are going to get the use of this software Louise, I, like you was after the Siver Efex software, but there was no way I could justify spending that much on it. What I’m also really happy about, is that it is possible to use the software without the cost of Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop 🙂
      I hope you enjoy using it as much as I do!


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