My Nikon Capture NX2 update fiasco
I recently had a very frustrating experience when I made the mistake of upgrading from version 2.2.7 of Nikon’s Capture NX2 to version 2.3. The problem was a perfect storm caused by the collision of my poor record-keeping with Nikon’s byzantine update process.
After reading several online forum announcements of this new version of NX2, I started up my older version and clicked on the ‘check for available updates’ tab. It responded that there were no updates available. So I logged on to Nikon’s site and found the update listed as a separate downloadable package. No problem, I thought. Clever person that I imagine myself to be, I downloaded the package and installed it on my computer.
When I started the program, it asked me for my software license key printed on the original CD I bought from Nikon. I found my software packaging and entered the number. And then the problem popped up: It asked me for old Capture NX license key. This is software that I bought almost 8 years ago, and it was long-deleted from my system. And during the clean-out process prior to my recent move, I had thrown away the package containing the original NX disks. I was stuck now with an inoperable version of a software package I had paid for. I submitted a help request to Nikon, and was told that absent my ancient NX serial number I was out of luck.
The issue is that the NX2 license I had was an upgrade license. And no matter that I had legitimately gone through the whole upgrade process several years ago, as far as Nikon was concerned, I could not prove I had owned NX in the past.
“Well”, I thought, “I can always just get my system backup disk and restore the older version of NX2 to my application folder”. Sounds good in practice, but it is not that simple. When I copied the old version to my application folder, the program would open, but no longer would work properly. I got a very unhelpful “Capture 2 cannot load file” whenever I tried to open a .NEF file. Some internet searching revealed that Nikon leaves all sorts of application helper files scattered over your hard disk that made it think I was still running the new, improved version 2.3 when what was actually running was the older version 2.2.7.
I finally fixed the problem by resorting to a utility program named ‘AppZapper‘, which thoroughly scours your hard disk for flotsam from application installation and then deletes not only the program files, but all the various helper files associated with it. I went through the entire ‘Nikon Software’ folder and used AppZapper to delete everything. I then got into the system /Library/Application Support folder and deleted every folder with Nikon in its name and made a note of what the name was before it was deleted. I then mounted my backup disk again and copied the old versions of these folders back to the /Library/Application Support folder. I then copied my older ‘Nikon Software’ folder back to the /Applications folder on my disk. And now everything works again.
What did I learn from this?
- Always record your license keys in a safe place. Preferably several safe places
- Programs leave stuff all over your hard disk. When deleting a program, use a utility like AppZapper to get rid of this cruft
- Nikon’s software and update process is really, really poor. And their support is not all that helpful
Postscript: Nikon technical support finally came through and acknowledged that I have a legitimate license to both NX and NX2 and issued me a new serial number for NX2. They also gave me detailed instructions for deleting the NX2 application and several .plist and other site specific configuration files. They sent me a link to the new 2.3 version, which I downloaded, installed, applied the new serial number, and ..
It did not work. Fails to open any .NEF or .jpg file.
So I spent the next three hours purging every known reference to Nikon anything on my system, and reinstalling from a Brand New full (non-upgrade) boxed version of NX2. When it comes time to input the new serial number (not the one supplied by Nikon, but the one on the new full version of NX2), the system somehow knows the old serial number I had from the very beginning of this sad saga. I unplugged my network cable and was able to get a working copy of NX2 on my system using the original serial number. Then I plugged my network cable back in and upgraded serially to version 2.7.2, which is basically where I was before this 7 hours of Nikon-induced, completely needless computer-oriented fucking around. To say that I am underwhelmed with Nikon’s software prowess is an understatement.