Adobe Bridge – The Swiss Army Knife of the Creative Suite

In my role as moderator on the forums at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, I read and field many questions on Photoshop, as well as other applications in Adobe’s Creative Suite. One thing I’ve noticed in the discussions and in the frequently asked questions, is that Adobe Bridge is highly underrated and often misunderstood. As one of the best applications money can buy (it’s FREE after all!) the reality is that Bridge has a monstrous set of capabilities, that all to often go untapped by the Photoshop user community at large.

Starting today, and over the next few weeks as a recurring series, I will be bringing you a look under the hood at what I consider the Swiss Army Knife of the Adobe Creative Suite. We’ll look at Bridge’s basic capabilities, as a file browser and launcher, but we’ll dig oh, so much deeper. In fact, if you stick with me, we’ll take the red pill (you do recall Adobe’s code name for CS3?) and we’ll see just how deep this rabbit hole goes!

On the surface Bridge is, at its heart, a media management tool – a combination file browser, previewer and launcher. Some of the basic functions that come with Bridge include:

  • Browse disks, folder and files
  • Preview images
  • Review multi-page layouts
  • Preview multimedia files such as audio and video
  • Launch files with their associated application

However, Bridge goes beyond simple file management. You can:

  • Sort, rate, label and compare images and files
  • Group images, Stack images, and Create collections
  • Manage metadata including keywords

But Bridge goes beyond even that. As an integral part of the Creative Suite, you can:

  • Work with Camera Raw files natively
  • Open or Place images and other files in any Creative Suite application
  • Automate Photoshop workflow in myriad ways
  • Manage Suite color settings

And last but not least, you can create a variety of output such as:

  • Slide shows
  • Web galleries
  • PDF contact sheets

For the techies out there, Bridge is fast, versatile, and knows how to stay out of the way yet be there when you need it. Bridge CS4 is a quantum leap over earlier versions.

Getting the picture? Heck, we haven’t even started yet! As I hinted, over the next few weeks we’ll take on each of these capabilities. We’ll cover the basics, but we’re going to go for the gold and uncover the real power that Bridge places at your fingertips.

For now, to get you started and to give you something to chew on, I’ll leave you with these excellent resources, starting with a nice big compilation of Bridge CS4 goodies:

A plethora of Adobe Bridge tutorials on Phosphors, an Adobe blog

Learning Adobe Bridge on Adobe TV

Adobe Bridge Help and Support Page

Stay tuned for more, as we pull back the curtain on this multi-talented program called, simply, the Bridge.

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