Adobe Bridge CS4 Quick Tour

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Thanks to digital cameras and the ever-expanding storage capacity of memory cards, photographers everywhere now have the freedom and flexibility to snap as many photos as we like of family, friends, special occasions, or whatever happens to catch our eye or capture our interest and imagination. Often, we end up taking far more photos than we'll ever need because it's just so darn easy to keep pressing the shutter button until the memory card is full.

And even then, if you have an extra card or two or ten in your pocket, it takes all of a few seconds to swap out the old card, pop in a new one and you're off to the races once again. It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can fill up a memory card with hundreds of images without realizing it, which is why I never leave home without first making sure I have extra memory cards tucked safely into my camera bag.

Now, if I can just remember to bring the camera bag with me, but then life would be just a little too easy. The problem, though, with all this newly acquired photographic freedom is that it can quickly lead to chaos, confusion and frustration if we don't realize that what we do with our photos at the end of the day is every bit as important as the images themselves. If all you have is a hand full, or even a few dozen photos, organizing them is no big deal.

But if you have hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of photos stored on your computer, keeping track of them can become a nightmare, and there's not much point in taking photos if you can never find them when you need them.

Fortunately, Adobe has created a great program to help us organize and manage our images called Adobe Bridge, or simply Bridge. Bridge is a standalone application, but it's included free with Photoshop, whether you purchased Photoshop on its own or as part of a Creative Suite package. It first appeared with Photoshop CS2 as a replacement for the old File Browser from previous versions of Photoshop, and it's gotten better and better with each new release.

We'll start with a quick, general tour of the program to see what's what and where it all is, then we'll look at how to use Bridge CS4 to download our photos from the camera or memory card to the computer. Once we have the images safely downloaded, we'll see how easy it is to preview, review, rate, label, move, copy, reject and delete, rename, rotate and filter images, how to save them as collections, how to add metadata and keywords, and more, all from directly within Bridge!

Let's get started! Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF! Launching Bridge There's a few different ways to launch Bridge. The fastest and most common way, though, to open Bridge is by clicking on the Launch Bridge icon in the Application Bar. If you're on a Mac as I am here, the Application Bar is located directly below the Menu Bar along the top of the screen.

Whichever way you choose, the Bridge interface will appear on your screen, with three main columns of panels dividing up the interface vertically and a series of icons and options along the top, as well as a few more in the bottom right corner. By default, the column in the middle is where we find the Content panel which displays thumbnail versions of the images inside the currently selected folder: The Bridge CS4 interface gives us three main columns of panels, plus some icons and options above and below them.

Bridge isn't that difficult to learn, but there's a lot to cover to get the most out of the program. Before we go digging into specifics, let's take a quick tour of all the different panels and options we're seeing on the screen, starting with the icons in the top left corner. The Browse Buttons In the top left corner of the Bridge CS4 interface are the Browse buttons the left and right-pointing arrows which act just like the Browse buttons in your favorite web browser.

As you navigate through different folders on your computer using Bridge, you can click on the Back and Forward icons to move back and forth through your browsing history: Use the Back left and Forward right arrows to move through your folder browsing history.

Parent Or Favorites To the right of the Browse buttons is a small, down-pointing arrow. Clicking on it opens a menu that let's you quickly select any of the parent folders of the folder you're currently in, or you can jump to any of the folders or directories that appear in your Favorites panel, which is a topic we'll save for later: Click the down-pointing arrow to quickly select any parent folders or any of your Favorites.

Click on it to reveal a list of the files you've recently viewed and the folders you've visited. Bridge works with all of the programs in the Creative Suite, not just Photoshop, so if you've opened any files for Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, etc. Click the Recent Files or Folders icon to quickly access any recently viewed files or folders. The Path Bar All of the icons we've looked at so far have had something to do with navigating through our files and folders, and directly below these icons is one of my favorite navigation options in Bridge CS4, the Path Bar.

The Path Bar shows us the full file path to the folder we're currently looking at. For example, I'm currently viewing a bunch of random images I've collected inside a folder appropriately named "Random", which is inside the larger "My Photos" folder, which is inside the "My Files" directory, and so on.

We can see this entire file path in the Path Bar. But what makes the Path Bar so useful is that if you click on any of the directories listed in the Path Bar, you'll jump instantly to that folder: Click on any of the directories listed in the Path Bar to jump right to it. Get Photos From Camera As we continue with the icons along the top left of the Bridge CS4 interface, we arrive at a small camera icon with a down-pointing arrow.

This is the Get Photos From Camera option, which we'll look at in the very next tutorial. Clicking on this icon opens the Photo Downloader, which is where we can select the device we want to download our photos from and set various options for where we want to save the images, file naming conventions, and so on. Again, we'll cover these details in the next tutorial: Click on the Get Photos From Camera icon to download your images to your computer. The name is a little vague, but clicking on the icon gives us quick access to three important features - Review Mode, which lets us view and compare multiple images in a cool, 3D carousel-style format, Batch Rename for renaming multiple images at once, and File Info, which let's us view and edit tons and tons of information about the currently selected image: Camera Raw is a whole other topic for a whole other series of tutorials, but if you shoot with a high end camera and your images were saved in your camera's native raw format, click this icon to open and edit them in the Camera Raw dialog box.

Click the Camera Raw icon to open raw images in the Camera Raw dialog box. Clicking on it switches you to the Output workspace we'll cover workspaces in another tutorial with options for outputting images to either a web gallery or to the PDF format: Select the Output option to output images to a web gallery or to the PDF format.

Workspaces change the layout of the panels in Bridge as well as the panels that are displayed on screen. The currently selected workspace is highlighted: Click on the various workspace names to change the layout of the Bridge interface. The default workspace is Essentials, but different workspaces can be better suited to what we're doing in Bridge. For example, the Essentials workspace offers a good general purpose layout, but if you're trying to preview your images, those little thumbnails in the Content panel aren't much use, and neither is the not-much-bigger Preview panel in the top right corner.

A better workspace for previewing images is Filmstrip. I'll select it by clicking on its name, and we can see that we now have a much bigger preview of the image, with the Content panel now moved to the bottom and displaying the thumbnails in a more convenient horizontal row: The Filmstrip workspace gives us a better layout for previewing images. The four workspaces shown along the top of Bridge are not the only ones available to us.

Click on the down-pointing triangle directly to the right of the word Output to view the complete list of workspaces, including any custom workspaces you've created.

I'm going to switch back to the default Essentials workspace so we can carry on with our tour. The Search Box To the right of the workspaces is your standard search box, which allows you to use Bridge to search for files within either the current folder or any sub folders inside the current folder: The search box is limited to searching within the current folder or any of its sub folders.

The Compact Mode icon. Clicking on it switches Bridge to Compact mode, which, true to its name, is a small, compact version of Bridge that displays only your image thumbnails and a few navigation options along the top.

This mode is handy when you want to keep Bridge open on your screen as you're working in Photoshop or any of the other Creative Suite programs because it always remains in front of any open programs. It's also handy for moving or copying files between different folders, since you can have two separate copies of Bridge open at once, making it easy to drag images and files from one Bridge window to another. We'll see how to do that later. To switch back to Bridge's normal size while in Compact mode, click on the Full Mode icon in the top right corner: When in Compact mode, Bridge always appears on your screen in front of any other open programs.

Thumbnail Quality Options Below the workspaces in the top right of Bridge are two icons that allow us to change the quality of the thumbnails we see in the Content panel. The reason we'd want to change the quality of them is because it can take a long time for Bridge to generate high quality previews, especially if you're working with lots of high resolution images. Clicking the icon on the left tells Bridge not to generate previews at all.

Instead, it will use the preview that's already embedded with the image file. This is the fastest way to load the thumbnails but it's not recommended. Clicking the icon on the right opens a menu with a few quality choices. Selecting the first option, Prefer Embedded Faster is the same thing as clicking the icon on the left. Why Adobe would give us two different ways to choose the worst possible option, I don't know. The default option is Always High Quality which is the one I use and I'd recommend you leave it selected if you don't run into any serious performance problems.

Some people prefer the High Quality On Demand option, which loads low quality thumbnails to begin with and only generates high quality versions when you click on a thumbnail.

This is a faster method, but I like to always see high quality thumbnails. The choice is yours: Lower quality thumbnails load faster, but higher quality thumbnails look better. Filtering Images By Rating One of the best features of Bridge is that it allows us to assign different star ratings and labels to our images. Ratings make it easy to separate our best images 5 stars from the worst no stars , while labels can be used, for example, to separate images that are still waiting for client approval from ones already approved.

We'll see how to add ratings and labels later, but we can filter the images we see in the Content panel according to their rating or label by clicking on the Filter Items By Rating icon the star to the right of the thumbnail quality options and choosing a filter option from the list. To go back to viewing all images, select the Clear Filter option at the top: The star icon allows us to filter the images displayed in the Content panel.

Sorting Options To the right of the Filter option is the Sorting option which changes the criteria for how the thumbnails are displayed in the Content panel. Here, I'm sorting my images manually, but if you click on the option, a menu will appear with lots of different options we can select, including by file name, file type, file size, and so on.

Click on the upward-pointing arrow to the right of the sorting option to change the order from ascending to descending, or the down-pointing arrow it flips direction when you click on it to switch from descending to ascending: The two sorting options allow us to change how the thumbnails are listed, as well.

Rotating Images If an image in the Content panel is sitting on its side and needs to be rotated, simply click on it to select it, then click on one of the two Rotate icons directly below the search box. Open Recent Files To the right of the Rotate icons is the Open Recent Files option, which is yet another way to jump to any files we've recently opened.

Click on the icon to view a list of the files, then click on the name of the one you want to open: Click on the Open Recent Files icon to select from a list of recently opened files. When the new folder appears in the Content panel, its name will automatically be highlighted. Click on the New Folder icon to add a new folder inside the current one.

Click on the item you want to delete, then click on the trash bin icon. Then click OK when Bridge asks if you're absolutely certain you want to delete it: Select the image or item you want to delete, then click on the Delete Item icon.

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You can either work with an existing document or create a new one. Choose Browse from the File menu, which will switch to, or launch, Bridge.

This will take you back to InDesign with a loaded cursor. However, in InDesign CS4 when you drag out a frame on the page, the frame will maintain the same proportions as the image. This is a huge improvement! Click the Bridge button in the Control panel to go back to Bridge. Back in InDesign, line up your cursor with the top-right corner of the first image that you placed and drag out the new frame. As you drag, smart guides will appear to let you know when the new frame is the exact same size as the first image.

Place a third image to the right of your first two images. You can select multiple images in Bridge and place them one by one without having to go back and forth between the two apps. Now drag the middle image until you get the amount of spacing you want between it and the first image.

The magic comes in when you drag your third image into position. When the spacing between your second and third images matches the spacing between your first and second images, your smart guides will kick in to let you know the spacing between all three is the same.

In order to use smart text reflow you need at least two pages in your document. So grab your Type tool T and create a new text frame on the first page. Switch back to the Selection tool V , click the out port of the frame you just created, and drag out a new text frame on the next page. The second frame will be automatically threaded to the first frame.

If you want to see this link visually, choose Show Text Threads from the View menu. Your cursor will be flashing ready for you to type. For the sake of example, you can choose Fill with Placeholder Text from the Type menu. This will fill both frames with text. So if I put my cursor at the end of the text on the second page and continue typing, InDesign will add a page with a new threaded frame for the additional text. We can turn on a feature that will automatically remove those extra pages that InDesign created.

Now if you remove enough text from your threaded frames, InDesign will automatically delete the extra page.

Keep in mind that this only works if the page is empty of any other items.


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