Make Adobe Bridge your easy button


By Kevin Slimp
Newspaper consultant

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 years ago) and Photoshop.

With the inception of Adobe Creative Cloud, more papers are interested in learning how to use the InCopy/InDesign workflow.

I dedicated a column about one such newspaper earlier this year.

But InCopy’s not the only application getting renewed interest these days.

I recently spent a day with a weekly newspaper in eastern Ohio. 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. Bridge and its predecessor, Photoshop Browser, have been around since Photoshop 7.0.

Ask your parents or grandparents about it. They probably remember the Browser.

With the release 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 while your newspaper 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.

Let’s look at a few of my favorite Bridge features:

Batch Rename: After opening Bridge and selecting a folder, the user sees thumbnails of each of the items in that folder in a window. 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 and number 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 from Minnesota asked me how she could easily create a photo archive of her photos 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 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.

One option is to use Image Processor to open, resize, convert each pic to CMYK (using an 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 very brief rundown of a few of the tools in Adobe Bridge.

When I spoke with Jerry Tidwell ahead of my recent trip to train his newspaper staff in Granbury, Texas, he asked me to cover InCopy.

How about a little Bridge, too, Jerry?

Kevin Slimp works as a newspaper industry trainer, speaker, writer and consultant.