Magazine Article


A Quick Tour of Adobe Bridge
Overview of Features and Functions

Eddie Tapp

Adobe Bridge, part of Creative Suite 2, enables photographers to perform a multitude of processing, editing, and file management functions directly in Bridge, without opening the files in Photoshop. This brief overview comes from Eddie Tapp’s new book, Photoshop Workflow Setups, the first of a five-book series on organizing an efficient, user-friendly workspace.

Basic Bridge Buttons and Icons

At the top of the Bridge window is the Location window of the folder you are currently in. [In Mac OSX, the menu bar is at the top of the screen; in Windows, the menu bar is at the top of the Bridge window.] This drop-down menu gives you quick access to the folder hierarchy of your computer, as well as favorite and recent folders, so you can easily find the images you want to work with.

Navigation arrow buttons Go Back and Go Forward at the top left let you move to previously navigated folders. A Go Up button right of the Location window lets you quickly go to the parent folder of the one you are currently in.

Shortcut buttons on the upper right-hand corner include the options to show filtered, unfiltered, or rated items; create a new folder; rotate an image to the left or right; move items to the trash; and switch to Compact mode.

By selecting the Compact mode icon in the Bridge window, you can create a compact view of your Bridge window, and make it a “Floating” window. This means if you then access any other application, the Bridge Compact mode window will float in front of your application. This is especially helpful if you need to quickly access files for other applications.

In the lower right-hand corner, you’ll find Thumbnail size controls for largest, smallest, or zoom slider, as well as buttons for the different view items: Thumbnails, Film Strip, Details, Versions, and Alternates. You can quickly click through these icons to study the advantages of each view. For instance, the Filmstrip view lets you see your selected file in a central pane, but still view thumbnails of the other items in the folder across the bottom of the window. The size of the thumbnails can be adjusted by moving the slider on the bottom of the window.

You can delete selected files or folders by clicking on the Delete Item icon. I don’t recommend selecting the option “Don’t show again” when the dialog appears, as you could accidentally move items to the Trash.

Bridge Panels and Windows

The Bridge window has a variety of window panels with editing and processing options for customizing and managing your workflow and expediting production. In the default workspace, there are some key panels down the left hand side of the window: Favorites, Folders, Preview, Metadata, and Keywords. The Favorites panel is on top and contains some default items, but you can drag a file or folder directly from the main window into the Favorites panel for instant access to any directory you use often.

Nested underneath is the Folders panel, which shows you the entire folder structure of your computer. The Preview panel renders a preview of a selected file, separate from and adjustably larger than the thumbnail image displayed in the light table area. The Metadata panel contains metadata information for a selected file, such as date created, file size, and copyright information. Nested underneath that is the Keywords panel, which has some built in items, or you can create your own keyword or keyword set from the panel’s flyout menu.

Resize the window panels by placing your cursor over the edge frame and dragging. You’ll see your cursor change into the grab icon; simply move the window frame up, down, left, or right to the desired size. You can grab a panel tabs and drag it to nest with other tabs, much as you do with palettes in Photoshop. For instance, group the Metadata and Keywords panels together.

In the lower left-hand corner of the window, you’ll see the Show/Hide panel button, which allows you to hide all the panels and have just the image-viewing window showing.

The central thumbnail area, or Light Table, allows for fast previewing of images, rating, and file management. Select a file and reposition it in the Light Table, or move it to another folder in your Folders panel. Hold your cursor over a thumbnail and Bridge will temporarily display information about that file, except in Details View, where the information is already showing. Show Tooltips must be checked in the General Preferences tab.

Setting Your Bridge Workspace

You can open as many Bridge windows as you like. Select File > New Window to display a new Bridge window for the current directory. Navigate to another folder for access to a variety of folders, with as many Bridge windows open as required.

Select a layout that’s right for your workflow by choosing Window > Workspace then one of the preset options: Lightbox, File Navigator, Metadata Focus, or Filmstrip Focus (shown above). It’s fast and easy to switch among presets or create a custom Bridge workspace. Once you’ve adjusted your window panels to your desired display, you can save the arrangement by Window > Workspace > Save Workspace. Next time you want that configuration, just choose it from the list. For more information, visit