In Step with InDesign: What Bridge can do for you

Written by Tiffany Kopcak

It’s a little brown icon. Nondescript. Overlooked. Ignored. A powerhouse of file management, Adobe® Bridge® should be an integral part of any staff’s work flow. Bridge is a program that works like Windows in terms of viewing photos, but is able to do so much more.

The first time you open Bridge, it will ask if you want it to automatically open whenever you log in.  Say yes! Get in the habit of using it every day and see how much more productive you can be.

I could fill this magazine with all of the great things you can do in Bridge, but here are a few from which you will get the most benefit.

Upload your photos, add details
1. Attach your camera or card reader. Select the camera icon at the top left in Bridge to get photos from the camera.
2. If necessary, click on Advanced Dialog at the bottom left for more options.

1b camera uploader advanced screen
3. At this point, you can:

a. Select only the photos you want to upload.
1) Holding down the Shift key (Win and Mac) allows you to select two or more photos and every photo in between.
2) Holding down the Ctrl key (Win) or Cmd key (Mac) allows you to select multiple photos without selecting the ones in between.
3) Bridge will only save selected files.
b. Rename them all using your staff’s naming conventions.
1) Select the down arrow under Rename Files to select Custom Name.
2) Enter your name in the line below.
c. Create a subfolder for your photos.
d. Attach a creator’s name
e. Most importantly, tell Bridge where to save your photos.

Review Mode

  • Sorting photos in Word is not fun. Sorting photos in Bridge using Review Mode is. Go to View > Review Mode, or use Ctrl + B (Win) or Cmd + B (Mac) to turn your folder of photos into a Lazy Susan of photos. Use the left/right arrow keys to sort through your photos, the down key to remove a photo from the carousel, and your mouse to spin the wheel.

3b Preview Wheel

  • Hitting Esc exits the carousel Review Mode and returns you to the photo folder, where photos you have removed from the carousel have been deselected. Copy, move or rename according to your file flow practices or get fancy: Ctrl + I (Win) or Cmd + I (Mac) will switch your selection (now the less-than-publishable ones you didn’t want are highlighted) so you can delete them.

Rate your photos
Bridge lets you rate your photos using stars and numbers. Users can do this under the Label or Star drop-down menus, or in each photo.

1. Below each photo, above the name of the photo, are five dots. With the image selected, the dots become stars when you click on them, or use Ctrl + number 1-5 (Win) or Cmd + number 1-5 (Mac). Click the Null sign that appears to the left of the stars to remove rating.

3a starred Photo

2. In Bridge, the Space Bar gives you a full-screen preview. Use the arrow keys to move through your photos. Use the keyboard to enter numbers for each photo you could use on your spread, such as 5 for potential dominants, 4 for secondary photos, 3 for accent photos.  0 removes all stars.

So why star your photos?

  • Ratings become part of the metadata of the photo and travel with the photos, so the photo editor can upload and star, and staff members can see the star ratings on a different computer to help them place photos.
  • Sort once! Use the Filter option to show only starred files. Don’t waste time digging through 237 photos every time you want one.

Batch Rename
Tired of IMG_0237, DSC_1129? Forget to name properly when uploading? Check out Batch Rename! Select all the photos you want to rename using Ctrl + A (Win) or Cmd + A (Mac) in the photo subfolder or use selections from the earlier Review Mode sort. Go to Tools > Batch Rename.

1. Click the button to remove extra options you don’t want as part of your file name, or the + button to add more options.

3cii Star Filter
2. For our naming conventions, we use event, date and photographer’s name.  The name is previewed on the bottom of the screen.
3. You can also use this tool to move or copy photos.

Tag with keywords
You have thousands of photos, and all you are looking for is one candid photo of a freshman. Keywords can help!

4 batch rename done
1. Keywords are on the middle right of your Bridge interface. Use the down arrow to create new keywords, such as grade levels, teams or clubs. Highlight the photos you want to tag. Check next to the keyword(s) you want to add.
2. Use the Search bar to find all files with your assigned keyword.
3. Note that Keyword data travels with the photo, but keyword menus are specific to each computer.

File Info
Add captions, more Keywords and photo credits using File Info. Right-click on a photo.  From here, you can enter any information you want to stay with the photo, including the photographer’s name if it’s not part of the file name, notes to help with caption writing and any additional Keywords. Most data becomes searchable.

Customize your workspace
On a network, it is an absolute pain to go through all the subfolders necessary to get to that one folder you need. Like Windows, Bridge has a favorites bar. Unlike Windows, you can add files to it. If you are working on a spread, you can create a shortcut to the file and one to the photo folder. Be careful, as you can move files with the favorites bar. The big brown bar means you’re making a shortcut. Two lines around a folder mean you are moving the file.

7 favorites menu

Take better photos
Use the Metadata information screen to the right of the interface to determine what camera settings were used, down to the serial number of the camera. Use this information to help photographers shoot better images.

8ab Metadata
In the example shown above, aperture was at 5.6, shutter speed was 50, and ISO was set at 400. You also know White Balance was on auto and the flash didn’t fire.

When teaching camera settings, use the Filter tab to show only one setting at a time. For example, you could sort the folder of photos to show only photos taken at a shutter speed of 125.

Grade student work
When your students turn in photo assignments, you can use Bridge to give feedback by:

  • Using the Star system as a point system and rate as you review.
  • Create keywords for common feedback, such as aperture issue and focus issue, and apply to photos as needed.

Bridge will show previews of InDesign files! You do not have to open every file to get an overview of the contents. It will also show previews of PDFs and other Adobe documents.

9b indesign preview

Publish photos (CS5)
Using Facebook to market your coverage? Or using Flickr to create online slideshows? Use Bridge.
1. Select the Export tab on the bottom left.
2. Drag any photos you want to upload onto the destination name.
3. Click the Arrow when done.

You will need to log in to Facebook or Flickr, but use the Bridge interface to connect your photos.

A quick FAQ about Bridge

Q: Do I need to save before I exit out of Bridge?
A: No. Bridge saves information in real time.

Q: I uploaded my photos to Bridge. Where are they?
A: Whatever folder you told Bridge to put them in. Bridge isn’t a place, it’s a viewer.  You never say, “I saved my photos to Windows Explorer,” do you?

Q: My Bridge interface looks funny.
A: Reset it. Click on the down arrow to the right of Output, and click on Reset Workspace.

2 Responses to “In Step with InDesign: What Bridge can do for you”

July 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm, Gilbert said:

This website certainly has all the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


August 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm, Learn how to teach yearbook: start with the basics said:

[…] 21: Learn how to load digital pictures onto the network and to use […]


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Tiffany Kopcak

Tiffany Kopcak, M.Ed., is the photojournalism teacher and adviser of the Apollo yearbook at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Va. Her staffs have earned CSPA Gold Medals and been included in NSPA’s Best of the High School Press, in addition to state recognition and individual awards in photography and design. Kopcak also teaches at the Walsworth East summer workshop.