What is Bridge, why do I have it, and what should I be doing with it?
You know that app that seems to come with many Adobe apps, but no one seems to know what it’s for? Bridge is one of the quietest and most powerful apps in Creative Cloud. Is it sexy? Not really. Does it actually create anything? Nope. So what the heck does it do?
You need to manage assets, there, I said it.
If you’re a designer, creative, vlogger, podcaster, or down-and-dirty Powerpoint jockey, you are paid for your creativity—not for the time you spend in front of your computer. The better able you are to manage the assets that build the content you create, the faster you’ll be able to create. Every minute you spend doing the non-creative stuff is a minute away from the creative work people should be paying you for. Bridge can save you time and help you be more productive.
Let’s start with some good ’ole metadata.
Metadata is data about data. How meta, indeed. Every file you worked with from Adobe, Microsoft, and most others who create file formats insert a little bit of information into their files about the file. The term was first coined in 1968 by Philip Bagley, in his book Extension of Programming Language Concepts. The term grew from this meaning to generally mean information about information.
Photographers know well about this, as there is a specific type of metadata called, EXIF, and it has a specific meaning to photography, including such things as exposure setting and lens in use that becomes a part of the various files used in photography.
Now let’s make it yours!
If metadata always came prepackaged, it would be hard to use. There wouldn’t be enough flexibility to capture all of the information you might want to use in your work. Things like customer name, project title, and perhaps product names are all ways you decide to try and remember how to identify and therefore find a file for a pick-up project or a project inspired by other completed work. Bridge is your answer. To create your own, custom keywords as metadata, select a file and click the little ‘+’ sign. Type your word, hit enter, and you have simultaneously created a new metadata keyword and applied it to your asset.
The metadata, once applied, makes it a snap to find things. Point to the most specific enclosing folder on your system, and search for the term. Better yet, use advanced search to include more than just keywords. Filename, date, and descriptions are all examples of ways to hone your search among your files to locate the exact file you need for a new project.
Searching for files based on what’s in them will save you hours over non-managed approaches to storing and locating assets. However, even that is a lot of work. Thankfully, there is a better way to apply it en masse to a folder of files. See the image to the left.
Applying it is similarly easy. From the same menu, choose Append Metadata (something you can do multiple times). The best set up is to create multiple metadata templates to cover various aspects of the job:
Customer name, division, etc.
Project type (print, web, video, etc.)
Designer names/team working on the project
Topic of the job
The options are for you to decide. You will adapt this to your own work, and it will evolve.
Bring it home and develop the habit.
Ultimately, this has to become a habit. It’s all about creating predictability in your work, so you can find files more quickly than without it. Even if you don’t recall the words you use, by searching for terms that you likely used (in this last image, you can see the results— a few files that might be what I need versus the dozens and dozens of files), you will become more efficient. For more about Adobe Bridge, see the information on Adobe.com.