Using Adobe Bridge With Photoshop (Part 1)

Recently I started a new class teaching digital design. Photoshop is the first piece of software that we tackle and I asked the class of 20, how many of them had used Photoshop before. Almost every single person had some experience. I also asked the class how many of them had used Adobe Bridge before. The answer was no one had used it and no one had even heard of it.

Adobe Bridge was a new feature in Creative Suite 2. It is very similar to the File Browser which appeared in previous versions of Photoshop. It allows you to search for files visually rather than just using a file name and it helps save time by allowing you to view previews of many different file types. So if you are a designer, illustrator, photographer or anyone who stores lots of images, you should be using Bridge!

Click the Go to Bridge button on the tool options bar to open Adobe Bridge.

An alternative way to open Bridge from Photoshop is to choose File > Browse)

Viewing and editing files in Adobe Bridge

The left and right hand side of the Bridge browser window displays palettes that you can rearrange, resize, and group within Adobe Bridge, using the same techniques as with Photoshop palettes.

Click the Folders tab in the upper left corner of the Bridge browser, then browse to the folder where you are storing your images.

Adobe Bridge displays previews of image files such as those in PSD, TIFF, and JPEG formats as well as Adobe Illustrator vector files, Adobe PDF files, and even MS Office documents. The Bridge preview pane displays thumbnails of your files.

At the bottom of the browser window, you can drag the thumbnail slider to reduce and enlarge the thumbnail previews.

You can also view your files in Filmstrip view;

Or in Metadata view where you can see additional information about each file.

You can select any thumbnail in Bridge by clicking on it once. Once you click on it you’ll see a larger preview appears in the Preview palette on the right hand side.

You can also enlarge the Preview palette by dragging the horizontal and vertical bars that separate it from the other panes of the browser window. The pointer appears as double lines with arrows when positioned over the bars. As you drag the preview palette gets larger.

You can move and adjust your palettes and thumbnails till you find the best arrangement for yourself.

To open any .PSD, .TIF, or .JPG image at any time into Photoshop from within Adobe Bridge, double-click its thumbnail preview. If you have other applications, AI files will automatically open in Illustrator, INDD files will open in InDesign and PDF files will open in Acrobat.

This is the first of several articles that I’m posting on Bridge, there’s more to follow over the next couple of weeks. If you’re using Photoshop CS2 or CS3 I would actively encourage you to use it. It is a huge timesaver when you’re working with lots of images.


  1. Jarek says:

    I’ve really tried to like it a few times, but I failed. Slow to work with, slow to load, slow to display files. By the time thi mammoth loads I can open a directory from favorites and select the proper psd.


  2. Heather T. says:

    I’ve used Bridge, but it’s such a memory hog!! I find Picasa, Google’s freebie visual organizer, much easier to work with, though it still has problems displaying transparency, esp. w/.png files. Nonetheless, it’s so much faster and user-friendly (including for tagging) that I’m very willing to trade.

  3. John B says:

    Same as Jarek. I think you really need a high spec machine to appreciate it. Actually I’m having a lot of trouble just running Photoshop lately without everything grinding to a halt.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jarek, Heather and John! Thanks for your comments.

    Are you guys all using it with CS3 or CS2?

    I don’t have a particularly high-spec machine but I use Bridge because I find it easy to fly through PSD, AI and EPS files. I have hundreds if not thousands of photographs and graphic files so I find it invaluable.

    I downloaded a utitility that was supposed to allow you to see a thumbnail view of those file types through windows explorer but it never worked. I must download Picassa, Heather. Does it let you view those file types?

    I turn Bridge on as soon as I go into Photoshop or Illustrator and have it running in the background. I still find it quicker than opening individual files in Photoshop even for flicking through PDFs I find it quite handy.

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  6. Bryan says:

    I love Bridge, though I only use it for 2 things and must admit I have yet to try all the new features of CS3.

    I find it useful with my photography for selecting from the thousands of shots I may take on a field trip and using RAW as a jump to PS.

    I also use it to keep track of all stock photography and my own photos with lots and lots of meta tags.

    For some reason, however, Bridge is an absolute resource hog on all machines I run it on, so unless I need it, its off.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi Bryan
    Thanks for visiting and for your comments. Yep, I definitely find it useful for trawling though folders of photographs too.

    I think I must be oblivious to it slowing down my pc, although that could be just the slow pace I work at.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I used to LOVE bridge with my 2 free trials, CS3 the CS2. Now that I own the creative suite (CS3), for whatever reason (touched on above?) I cannot open more than one file at a time with Photoshop CS3. It was never a problem before installing the creative suite. I could drag select 30 images and open with Photoshop CS3 (or CS2 at the time) from bridge. Now if I select more than one, the option to open with Photoshop is gone and Illustrator is the default. Is there a way to remedy this? I’m soooo frustrated, as I just “rated” all my pics in Bridge and want to open all the 1 stars at the same time.

  9. Jennifer Farley says:

    Hi Stephanie

    If you select a few images in Bridge, can you right click on one of them and choose “Open with Photoshop” and try to open them all that way?

    The other thing you can try is this:

    1.Open Bridge, choose Edit > Preferences.
    2. Click on the left hand side where it says File Type Associations
    3. You’ll now see a list of lots of different file types.
    4. Click on the name of the file type that you want to open with Photoshop e.g. JPEG. To the right of the word JPEG you’ll see a little drop down box that will give you a list of different programs, set that to Photoshop.
    5. Do step 4 for all of the file types you need.

    That should hopefully sort you out! Let me know.

    Since I wrote this post, It seems like quite a few people are having problems with Bridge and it working really slowly. I seem to have been unusually lucky. As well as on my own pc and laptop, I’ve installed it on the 20 pcs in the classroom and there hasn’t been a problem with them either. They all have 1.5 GB of RAM which I don’t think is mega high spec. It’s a shame that it’s not working properly for people as I genuinely think it’s a great tool.

  10. Taylor says:

    How long did it take you to learn bridge? I also teach a class in Adobe Photoshop and was thinking about adding this in, but was unsure how long it would take people to pick up on it.

  11. Jennifer Farley says:

    Hi Taylor

    It doesn’t take too long to get your head around Bridge. I always include it in the course I teach and most people seem to find it really useful. I wouldn’t say it would be a particularly big challenge for most people who are learning PS.

  12. A-Rod says:

    Hi Jennifer thank you for the tips, I also had the same problem with bridge opening a .jpg in illustrator, I followed your instructions and voila bridge opens .jpgs now with CS3 instead of illustrator. thank you again, lots of kisses.

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