Adobe Bridge a useful design tool

July 6, 2015

By Kevin Slimp
Software Review 

When a person visits as many newspapers as I do, he starts to notice similarities. It used to be that most papers wanted staff training in InDesign (or QuarkXpress in years past) and Photoshop. I usually convince clients that they should get a little training in Acrobat while I’m around, and probably an hour’s education in layout and design. After all, I’m usually on site for a full day or more.

Lately, I’ve noticed some interesting trends. With the inception of Adobe Creative Cloud, I began noticing more papers were interested in learning how to use the InCopy/InDesign workflow. I even dedicated a column to one such paper back in February. InCopy is not the only application getting renewed interest these days. 

Recently, I spent a day with a weekly newspaper in Eastern Ohio. I even took a pic of the big building shaped like a basket to prove it. After lunch, the publisher asked something I’ve heard quite often in my visits with 100-plus newspapers this year, “Could you take a little time to teach us some things about Bridge?”

Adobe Bridge isn’t exclusive to the latest version of Adobe products. The Bridge and its predecessor, the Photoshop Browser, have been around since Photoshop 7.0. Ask your parents or grandparents about it. They probably remember the Browser.

With the advent of Creative Suite in 2003, the Photoshop Browser made way for Adobe Bridge, which worked in much the same way. The difference is that Bridge works with more than just Photoshop, although it’s still most commonly used in association with the photo manipulation application.

Why the sudden resurgence of interest in Bridge? My guess is that word has gotten around that Bridge is one of the most useful tool in Adobe’s arsenal, especially when it comes to automating processes to save time. And although some newspapers may have all the time in the world, a lot of folks are looking for ways to save time, without cutting corners when it comes to quality.


My favorite Bridge features

Batch Rename: Upon opening Bridge and selecting a folder, the user sees thumbnails of each of the items in that folder on the screen. When selecting a camera or card reader, the user will see thumbnails of the pics on the camera card. When selecting all, or a select group of files on a card, thumbnails will appear in Bridge. By right-clicking on any of the images, a list appears which includes the option, “Batch Rename.”

Batch Rename makes it easy to quickly rename all the images at one time and save them to a place you designate on the computer or server. For instance, let’s say you took 200 photos at a ball game. You might name them “tigersfootball-001,” “tigersfootball-002,” and so on. You could even include the date in the filename, using something like “150812-TigerFootball-001.”

• Keywords: Jean Matua in Minnesota once asked me how she could easily create a photo archive of her pics, without purchasing expensive software to do it. The answer was a no-brainer: “Use Adobe Bridge.”

Bridge allows the user to include hidden information inside photos that can be used to simplify the search process days, months or even years from now. Let’s say you took the 200 football pics from the previous example and wanted to add keywords to them. One option would be to add specific words to every image. “Football” or “Tiger” would be examples of keywords the user would want included in each pic. This could be done by two clicks of the mouse.

Other keywords, such as “quarterback” or “Smith,” wouldn’t be needed in every photo, but would be helpful in pics that included a quarterback or someone named “Smith.” These could be added individually to the appropriate images.

Begin adding keywords to each image, and before long you will have the ability to search through years of photos in seconds, using just a few clicks on the keyboard.

• Image Processor: The Image Processor tool in Bridge is actually based on a script in Photoshop, not that you need to know that in order to use it. Bridge contains dozens of tools to speed up your workflow. The Image Processor speeds things up by automating many tasks that could take hours manually. 

For instance, let’s say I’ve just received 200 images of houses for a real estate guide that’s due yesterday. I could open each pic individually and resize and save in Photoshop. An option might be to use image processor to open, resize, convert each pic to CMYK (using Action, which is accessible by Image Processor), then saving the images as TIFF files, with LZW compression, in a designated folder. Instead of spending three hours to prepare the photos, I’ve spent two minutes.

That’s a brief rundown of a few of the tools in Adobe Bridge. When I spoke with Jerry Tidwell recently about my trip to Texas this week, he asked me to cover a little InCopy information while at his paper. Once I arrive in Granbury, I won’t be surprised if he says, “Hey, Kevin. Could you cover a little Bridge while you’re here?” © Kevin Slimp 2015


Kevin Slimp is director of the Institute of Newspaper Technology. To read his past columns, go to To learn about the institute, go to

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