Rearranging thumbnails and renaming files in Adobe Bridge

If you’re the owner of a digital camera, unless you’re very organized I’m sure you have a HUGE number of photographs sitting on your computer with names such as “PSC1000345” and the like. Not very easy to figure out which one is which.

Adobe Bridge first appeared with CS2 and allowed you to view thumbnail previews of image files. Adobe Bridge with CS3 allows you to view thumbnails of not just photographic images but also Illustrator files, PDF files, InDesign files and more.

One of the many great ways you can use Bridge is to view, rearrange and rename the thumbnails. It’s just like moving negatives around a light table. You can use the batch-renaming process to give image files much more descriptive filenames with just a couple of clicks. This is a job that could take hours to do if you went through each photo individually to see what it contained.

1. Open up Bridge from Photoshop and browse to a folder with your photographs. To group thumbnails together, all you need to do is click and drag a thumbnail and drop it beside another thumbnail. By re-arranging them this way, it makes it easier to see what you have and what you want to keep.

In this example I have a folder which contains images that roughly break down into three different subjects – Buildings, Animals and Roadsigns. At the moment they have non-descriptive names – in fact they are just numbers.

2. Select the first sign thumbnail in the group and then Shift-click the last sign thumbnail to select the entire group.

3. Choose Tools > Batch Rename.

4. Under New Filenames in the Batch Rename dialog box, choose Text from the Current Filename pop-up menu, and type in a name that you want to assign to this group of images in the text field. In my case, I selected the three photos that feature signs.

5. Click the plus button () at the far right side of the New Filenames area, and choose Sequence Number from the pop-up menu. Make sure the default, 1, is selected for the starting sequence number, or type 1 now.

6. Click the plus button to create a third criterion, and then choose New Extension from the pop-up menu. Type jpg (no fullstop is necessary) into the extension text field. (This preserves the .jpg file extension in the filename.)

7. For Compatibility, select the check boxes for other operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, and Unix. (The operating system you are using will be dimmed but checked.)

8. Review the sample in the Preview area to make sure that it reads "Signs01.jpg," and then click Rename.

9. Choose View > Sort > By Filename to arrange the thumbnails in alphanumeric order.

10. Using steps 1 – 8 again, I selected and batch-renamed the remaining photographs according to the subject matter pictured: buildings and animals. When you set options in the Batch Rename dialog box, type Animals instead of Signs to name the Animal images, and type Buildings for the building images. Otherwise, use the same options as in Steps 5–7.

The Batch Rename command behaves differently depending on what is selected when you choose the command: If no thumbnails are selected, the naming scheme you specify in the Batch Rename dialog box applies the name change to all the files in the selected folder. If several, but not all thumbnails are selected, the command renames only the selected files.

This renaming tool can speed up your work flow enormously, whether you’re a photographer or a designer organising comps or designs.