Installing some plugins in Photoshop is pretty straight forward as the installation makes the needed connections and the next time you start the program all is well. In some cases there is really no installation. In the case of Topaz plugins for example, simply pointing Photoshop at the folder where the Topaz programs reside is all that is necessary. That is done in Preferences by checking the “additional plugins folder” option and directing Photoshop to the folder. If you have other plugins that work the same way you can simple create a folder for all of your plugins and make that the destination.
One of my friends discovered that her Nik plugin did not transfer quite so easily into CS6 and I was no help as I am not familiar with their software. For those of you who may use them, here is the procedure recommended by Nik to get their software into CS6. Not intuitive.
“To get our software into CS6, you will need to download the latest versions of the current plug-ins from http://www.niksoftware.com/downloads. Install CS6 and run it at least once. Then shut it down. Uninstall our plug-ins, and then re-install using the downloads from our website.”
I do not use many plugins but I do recommend a few that do more than you can easily accomplish within the program itself. The Topaz DeNoise and InFocus plugins have proven useful over time in refining an image. If you like to work with HDR images, Photomatix Pro is likely the best candidate and can work as a plugin or a stand alone program. A free program called Picturenaut produces realistic results but doesn’t have much tone mapping control if you are into the more edgy looks. Useful productivity tools are available from Russell Brown at http://www.russellbrown.com/. He is Senior Creative Director at Adobe and writes a number of scripts that work within Photoshop and Bridge. His Image Processor Pro is a vast improvement over the one supplied by Adobe with Bridge and I am surprised that it isn’t the default processor for the program.
I’m sure you have your personal favorites, and that is fine. I usually prefer to “pick and shovel” my way through the Photoshop tools to accomplish my image refinements, even minimizing the use of actions except to simply reduce repetitive procedures where creative modifications are not called for. There is no reason to ignore plugins if they help you, especially in productivity. Just remember to maintain your creativity by not letting them be the style setter for your photography.