Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve is sort of a legacy product in some ways, still clinging onto the past as the company pushes it forward to the consumer. A big part of this is the specifications, which still recommend older hardware as a base, but also the way you buy the software can be a little confusing.
See, DaVinci Resolve doesn’t have a subscription, you pay the $300 once and you own it forever, including future versions. It’s why when you buy a Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, you might get a box promoting DaVinci Resolve 16 when we’re on 17 and some resellers will even still have stock from when it was version 12 or 14.
It doesn’t matter what version you get, because you still need to go and download the Studio version from the website, which will most likely be 17 at this point. However, there are a couple of methods of getting a DaVinci Resolve Activation Key, one including no key at all.
When you order the DaVinci Resolve Activation Key, you’ll receive a physical product. The reseller and Blackmagic won’t email you the code like with a modern piece of software, meaning you have to plan around the actual delivery of the said product.
DaVinci Resolve Activation Key or Dongle?
The Activation Key is a card with a code on it, while the Dongle is literally a USB dongle that Resolve can communicate with to give the thumbs up for letting you through to the Studio version.
There’s also a version on the Mac App Store, but this is highly unrecommended to not download, as it is often receiving less support, is a little more expensive and limits you to only ever working on a Mac.
With the Activation Key, you can move between operating systems and have up to two systems running off the same key at once. This is great for DaVinci Resolve’s method of collaboration, so you and a partner can work on the same project at the same time.
The Dongle is a bit different in that it needs to always be plugged in for Resolve Studio to recognize that it is activated. This means you’ll have to sacrifice a USB port to Resolve and it’s only one system at a time. If you want two or more systems running on the same Dongle, you’ll need to purchase another. But, you can then just take the dongle wherever you go and not worry about de-activating your other PCs with Resolve Studio running.
Blackmagic also recommends you keep these keys and dongles safe, as they’re not exactly going to believe everyone who comes through with a request for a new key if they’ve lost it. So keep it hidden, keep it safe.
DaVinci Resolve Studio Free
- Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, 6K, and 6K Pro
- URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, G2 and 12K
- Cintel Scanner
As mentioned above, you can also acquire a DaVinci Resolve Activation Card with the following products:
Currently, some resellers are selling the Activation Key Card with the Speed Editor, a small keyboard device with a jog wheel that works exclusively with Resolve’s Cut Page. This often comes at the same price from major resellers as the full key by itself, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that.
How to Activate DaVinci Resolve Studio Key
Blackmagic isn’t exactly making things easy for the new consumers that come through, as most will have already downloaded and installed the free version of Resolve onto their system expecting to just upgrade with a key.
The Free version and Studio version are two different pieces of software, so you’ll need to go to their website to download the latest Studio version, which will replace the Free version once you load the installer.
If you need to revert back to an older version or install Studio over the same version of the Free option (so 17.2 Free to be replaced by 17.2 Studio), you’ll need to uninstall Free for Studio to take its place.
On Mac and Linux, you can install older versions over newer versions without issue.
Plug in Dongle or Type in Code
If you have the dongle, before you load up DaVinci Resolve, plug it in and leave it in as you load it up. Don’t remove it or Resolve will kick you out of the Studio version.
If you have an Activation Key, you’ll want to pop that in when it prompts you to do so.