After buying the Nik Collection software suite, Google re-worked the way its licenses are handled. One of the big changes was the complete elimination of product keys. If you want to install a new version manually, you have to uninstall the old version and then install the new one. This also holds true when upgrading from the trial version of the software to the full-on, bought and paid for version.
The problem with this is that it means you will lose all of the favorites, presets, and recipes you set up while tinkering around with the trial version. Google does provide a way to export these so you can then re-import them into the full version after you install it, but you can only export from within the software. That means if your trial has expired and you can no longer access it, there is no way to export your presets from the trial version to the full version.
Well, as it turns out, there is a way to do it, you just won’t find it in any of Google/Nik’s help documents.
Instead of exporting your presets, favorites, and recipes from within the software, you can copy the files from a hidden directory in Windows where they are stored. Note that in my particular case I was working with Windows 7. It should be similar in newer versions of Windows, but I have no experience where they’re located if you’re working on a Mac. They’re there somewhere though.
On Windows, you’ll find them in C:\Users\*Username*\AppData\Local\Google\ where *Username* is your windows username. Note that you’ll need to type this into the windows explorer address bar manually as the AppData folder is hidden, meaning you can’t point and click your way to it.
From there, you’ll see a list of folders containing all the various Nik plug-ins. Select the one you want, for instance Color Efex Pro, and you will see the folders “Favorites”, “ImportedPresets”, and “UserPresets”. Copy the contents of these folders and store them somewhere safe. Then, after you un-install your trial version of Nik and install the full version, just navigate back to these folders and paste the contents back in. That’s it, all of your favorites, presets, and recipes will now be available in the full version of Nik so you can use them to work on your photos like I did for the one below!