Bridge--The Cinderella of the Creative Suite

Sorry this is a day late...I had some, uh, technical difficulties. Church leadership scheduled a surprise day away on Monday, which was much needed and much appreciated. However, it did interfere with my ability to grab screenshots for this article. Anyway...

Bridge--if you have any of the Creative Suites from Adobe, you have it. But what is it? What does it do? And more importantly, why do you want to use it? Bridge is one of those odd programs that you don't really need, but does some things really well. It's kind of a file browser, organizer and launching off point for the rest of the CS products. And like Cinderella, it's often relegated to the unheated room in the tower of the castle where it's forgotten about. But take some time to get to know it, and you'll discover a pretty useful product.

Back a few years ago when I was doing time in the land of Windows, I used Bridge a lot more than I do today. Basically, since my sentence was commuted and I'm back in the land of OS X, I don't need it as much. In Windows, Bridge is a much nicer way to browse through a folder full of images, Illustrator documents, PDFs and other digital media (including sound and video files). It does that fine on the Mac as well, but we Mac users have two aces up our sleeves. The first is Cover Flow.

Just like iTunes, only with files. Just like iTunes, only with files.Cover Flow is my new favorite way to browse through a folder full of images. It makes it quick and easy to spot the one I want. And if I want a closer look, hitting the Space bar will bring up Quick Look.

Now that was easy! Now that was easy!Quick Look works on images, video, sound, documents, spreadsheets, you name it. It will even preview Illustrator files if you include a PDF preview with them. It's fantastically useful. But that's not what this column is about. We're here to talk about Bridge.

bridge-interface Click to enlargeBridge offers a very smooth interface for browsing through folders of digital media. You can sift and sort by keyword and other metadata. You can edit said metadata. You can preview images, sound and video. And if you double click on a file, it will open it in the most likely CS editor (.psd & .jpg files open in Photoshop, .mov files open in Premiere, etc., and that's editable). If you have a boat-load of digital media you need to organize, Bridge makes it easy. You can drag, move, copy and rename files from one folder to another right in the interface. You can create folders. You can even delete the bad stuff. On a big monitor, it makes quick work of organization.

I use Bridge right now for 2 main tasks. The first is batch re-naming of files. Every week, we have a volunteer artist create our worship lyric backgrounds. Sometimes the naming conventions don't match what I like them to be. Now, I could go to the Finder and rename them all there, but that's a lot of typing. It's easier in Bridge.


Under the Tools Menu is Batch Rename Under the Tools Menu is Batch RenameSelect the files you wish to rename. It can be 10 or 100, doesn't matter. Select All to grab the entire contents of a folder. Choose Batch Rename from the menu and prepare to be amazed.

click to enlarge click to enlargeUnless the market turns against you, everyone loves options. The Batch Rename dialog has a bunch. There is almost no end to the combination of filenames you can come up with with these controls. You can also re-name in the same folder, or move or copy the files to a new one. Sweet.

click to enlarge click to enlargeIt even shows you a preview of what your new files names will look like. Play around to your heart's content then hit "Rename." In just a few seconds, your work is done.

batch-rename-results

There...just the way I wanted them. It actually takes more time to explain how to do it than to actually do it. Really, it's worth the launch time (which is a bit longer than it should be, but that's another column).

The other cool thing that Bridge does is preview After Effects animation presets. I'm a big fan of the myriad of animation presets Adobe included with the latest versions of AE. However, trying to figure out what they do is not always easy. What's the difference between Kinematic and Mechanical for example? The names are not always descriptive of the effect. However, launch Bridge and it's easy to get a preview.

click to enlarge click to enlargeSimply navigate to the Presets (Applications/After Effects/Presets--at least on a Mac) folder and start selecting presets. A preview of each one shows up on the right. You can even Favorite the Presets folder so you don't have to go digging for it each time. It's a huge timesaver.

Bridge is really a powerful program that is mostly underutilized. One day, I plan on spending a day or two with our digital image library and Bridge to keyword, organize and classify the hundreds of images we've collected over the years. It will be a lot of work, but when done, it will make it easier to locate pictures of the outdoor baptism, 2006 when I'm asked.