To get a handle on why Adobe Bridge is useful, it helps to understand what Bridge does beyond simply browsing for images in the folders on your desktop. After all, you can approximate the general look of Bridge by opening a folder on your desktop and setting it to large icon view. Bridge goes well beyond that superficial comparison, so let's take a quick look at what Bridge can do:
Organize and find graphics files. Bridge can locate files based on metadata, the additional data you can add to a file. For example, when you take a digital photo, the camera saves an image file that includes the time, date, and exposure information. In Bridge, you can attach more information to that photo, such as keywords, names, a caption, and a copyright notice. Once all that's entered, you can use Bridge to retrieve photos using that metadata. For example, you can search for all photos containing the keyword canoe that were taken on May 18, 2006.
Select multiple files for editing. In Bridge, you can select multiple photos and pass them directly to Photoshop for batch processes. If you use Adobe Camera Raw, you can edit Raw files from Bridge without opening Photoshop, which can save RAM.
Select the best files for editing. You can use Bridge to rate and label files. By rating files using the 5-star system in Bridge, you can keep track of your best (and, if you like, worst) images. By attaching color labels to files, you can mark and select different groups of files while still keeping them together in a single folder.
Open files in a program of your choice. Once you've used Bridge to select the files you want to edit, you can open them in another program using all the usual methods, including double-clicking and drag-and-drop.
Buy Adobe Stock Photos. On the surface, Adobe Stock Photos might look like an occasional convenience, but they do offer a few efficiency enhancements: Adobe Stock Photos aggregates images from multiple stock houses, so when you do need to find a photo for a project, Adobe Stock Photos represent one-stop shopping for that task. Also, Adobe Stock Photos are fully integrated with Photoshop and Creative Suite 2. Adobe Stock Photos contain built-in metadata, and Bridge, Photoshop, and other Creative Suite applications can indicate whether a stock image is a comp (sample) or purchased.
Take It to the Bridge (And Back)
Adobe designed Bridge to be integrated with Photoshop (and other Adobe Creative Suite programs). That's why you'll find multiple ways of opening Bridge. Consider this as an opportunity to pick a way to open Bridge that best matches how you like to work or best matches the situation at hand.
When you have a document selected in Bridge, you can open that image in Photoshop by choosing File > Return to Adobe Photoshop CS2 or by pressing its keyboard shortcut. You can also drag the document from Bridge to Photoshop (to the Photoshop Dock icon on Mac OS X, or to the Photoshop application workspace in Windows XP). Finally, you can context-click a document in Bridge and choose the Open With command to specify which program you want to use to open the document.
Going the other way, you can start from a document that's open in Photoshop and view it in Bridge by clicking the Go to Bridge icon in the options bar (Figure 6.1), or by choosing File > Close and Go to Bridge.
Figure 6.1. The Go to Bridge button, next to the palette well in the Photoshop options bar.
If you become addicted to the workflow enhancements of Adobe Bridge, you may find a couple of other tips helpful. Consider adding Bridge to your Dock (Mac OS X) or taskbar (Windows XP) so that you can easily start and switch to Bridge. You can also set Bridge to open whenever you open Photoshop by enabling Automatically Launch Bridge in the General Preferences dialog box of Photoshop.