Adobe Bridge was installed by default when I installed Adobe CS5. What is Adobe Bridge used for, and how can it be integrated within a designer's workflow?

What I know about it is that it is basically a file manager, which is somewhat redundant to me because Finder or Windows Explorer can be used to manage my files.

8 Answers 8


I use it for browsing a huge amount of images in one spot very quickly.

Example: I have a new brochure I'm designing for a steady client, the Smith Company. The client says "I want to use the headshot with the two founders in it. Not the old guy, the younger one — his son. And the guy he works with. The son is on the left. And no background. I want it siloed." (silhouetted)

The client doesn't know that when we got that color photo over two years ago, we cleaned it up, made a copy in grayscale, a copy in duotone, did clipping paths for each, made a version that's a cameo with a nice gradient fade, and flipped a copy. That's not including all the other headshots we've gotten from them in the last five years, with different people in different combinations. There are like 200 images in that folder.

So I open my SMITHCO-HEADSHOT folder in Bridge, and it takes me about 15 seconds of scrolling to find the shot the client needs. I make note of the file name, drop it in, and go on with my day.

The nice thing about Bridge is that is also does EPS files, which Mac Finder's Cover Flow does NOT do. So if I need a chart with two lines and one set of bars, with the axis for the bar chart on the right, and I have 200 charts in that folder, I can use Bridge to zip through all the charts quickly rather than opening up 200 files.

  • Nice write up. BTW, in many businesses, "siloed", means the project is on a need-to-know basis (as if kept in a silo.)
    – Aaron
    Mar 5, 2016 at 14:46
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    @AK, Yes, "sye-lowed" (long I, like a grain silo) is a different term than "sih-lowed" (short I, short for silhouetted). When you say it out loud it's instantly obvious that it's not the same concept. Mar 5, 2016 at 18:26
  • -1: Though a good description of usage, Bridge is nothing more than bloatware. The majority of functionality can easily be reproduced by other applications at a fraction of the price (sometimes free) and disc space.
    – Paul
    Oct 14, 2016 at 8:05
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    @Paul You are certainly entitled to your opinion of Bridge, which others share, but DVing an answer which you note is "a good description of usage" (and therefore answers the question) is kind of petty, don't you think? Oct 14, 2016 at 9:40
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    @Paul And as I see it, you're punishing me with a DV for answering the question. The OP wanted to know "What is it used for?" I answered that. If you feel so strongly about this program and this response five and a half years after the fact that you're leaving comments on everyone's answers and DVing, why don't you post your own answer instead and let the community upvote it past mine? Oct 14, 2016 at 14:20

Adobe Bridge is not so much a file manager as it is a digital asset manager. It offers much more capabilities to manage files than the Finder and Windows Explorer will ever offer by default, but it is not a replacement for either but rather an enhancement of both.

Bridge facilitates all sorts of tasks, like batch processing all sorts of file characteristics (where scripting isn't a known skill), manage metadata inside files, linking between applications, and other features unique to the Adobe Creative Suite.

I've only just started using it myself for scripting purposes (though I'm still in CS4) and I'm coming to appreciate its usefulness. It's worth looking into especially if you work on a lot of jobs or a lot of files at once.

  • Each to their own, but I agree with @Scott.
    – Paul
    Oct 14, 2016 at 7:58

I never use Bridge. I find it a waste of hard drive space and pointless. And, if anything, detrimental due to the additional hard drive space it's cache files can chew up.

In theory Adobe wants you to use Bridge to manage your files -- essentially replacing the Mac OS Finder or Windows Explorer to move, rename, and other organizational operations. Over the past few years Adobe has migrated some operations to Bridge in order to try and force it upon users. Things like Photoshop's web galleries or contact sheets were moved to Bridge. Adobe added warnings to applications if you failed to use Bridge to set color settings across all Adobe apps. The only thing I see of any value in Bridge is editing metadata of image files. If you edit or create a great deal of metadata for your images you may want to explore Bridge.

My best advice is if you have Bridge, play with it for a couple hours. If you find it helpful, then start exploring it further. If you find it annoying and overall pointless (as I do) then just ignore it. However, don't uninstall or trash it if you have any of the "suite" packages. Updates may fail and applications will whine if Bridge is not on your hard drive (stupid Adobe).

  • +1: For certain files you can still use Windows explorer to set the meta data, and there are many other applications (some freely available) that will do roughly the same as bridge for a tenth of the HD space. I forcibly remove this application when I can, or at least remove execution privilege from the entire folder.
    – Paul
    Oct 14, 2016 at 8:01

Bridge is the coordinating hub of the Creative Suite. Synchronizing color management settings for all suite programs is done from Bridge, and can only be done from Bridge, to take one important use.

As Lauren mentioned, Bridge displays actual thumbnails of many more file types than Finder or Explorer. It also allows instant play of sound or video files more readily than the native OS file managers.

Bridge allows direct access to file metadata, to embed copyright information and keywords where appropriate (e.g., for corporate logo vector and raster files). It also displays the fonts used in an InDesign file, the swatches in an INDD or AI and the output plates (including spot color plates) they use.

When managing the assets for a design project, Bridge allows quick and simple sorting, rating and custom labeling (with color flash indications) of assets. I can rate images according to whether they are rejects, possibles, for review by client, or approved. The filters built into Bridge allow instant isolation of only the approved images or designs in a folder, only the rejects (for deletion) or only files with certain ratings, no matter how many files it contains. It recognizes aspect ratios, so if I only need a landscape or a 16:9 image in a folder of hundreds of images, I turn off the aspect ratios I don't need.

Once filtered, the remaining visible files can be selected and copied, moved, or deleted without affecting the rest of the contents of a folder.

Collections are a massively useful feature. One of my clients is a performing arts center, and in a season we turn out dozens of ads, flyers, brochures, web banners, playbills, billboards and other collateral using the same assets over and over. These assets are organized by artist and/or show on disk, but I set up each season's repeating assets as a Collection in Bridge, so that I just have to open the collection and drag and drop these assets into new INDD, AI, PSD, HTML (in Dreamweaver), FLA or AE projects without having to navigate from folder to folder picking up individual files.

Bridge's Favorites is another place I stack frequently-accessed folders, such as stock photography, backgrounds, and top-level folders for active projects.

Assets can be divided into subfolders, but a quick toggle of "Show items from subfolders" exposes all of the assets in a single view while maintaining their organization. I will typically keep AIs, PSDs, EPSs, stock photography and client images in separate subfolders within a project. When I'm ready to start pulling assets into an InDesign layout, I toggle this on and simply drag what I need into the layout.

Bridge comes with Adobe Camera Raw built in, which is many times faster than using Photoshop to adjust jpegs or tiffs for things like tonal range, white balance, cropping, spotting and sharpening, and is non-destructive.

One tremendously useful Bridge function for InDesign CS5+ users is the "Show linked files" feature, which opens all the linked files in a layout into a single view, regardless of where they are physically located. I often use this when doing alternative layouts from a client-approved mockup for a campaign, to be certain the same assets are used in each piece, or when creating a motion graphic or interactive piece for the campaign in After Effects or Flash.

The batch and image processing scripts built into Bridge automate things like creating web-ready small jpegs from multiple images, renaming large numbers of files in place or by copying to an alternative location, creating sets of PSD, png, jpeg or other file types from an assortment of image files, and so on.

Bridge is so much a part of my daily workflow that on my main workstation I have one monitor dedicated to it almost 100%. Bridge just sits open 24/7, ready for use. I would run at half speed without it, no question.


I am answering only to put a different point of view: I never used because I do not find useful for my daily work (graphic/web design).

It should be of help for the people that work everyday with hundreds and hundreds of images to handle files quickly, adding meta information to files (to make it easier to search) and catalogue the various version of a same graphic solutions.

To me is much more useful in photography where you make tons of photo shoots and you have to track them down, but far as I know, many photographers use other tools than Adobe Bridge, like if I am not in error: Lightroom


When I first saw Bridge I dismissed it but find it very useful now when browsing large amounts of images. Brilliant for things like RAW files as windows explorer/finder don't display thumbnails.


Aside from its image browsing and management capabilities, I use Bridge to synchronise colour profiles that I use for different clients and printers to ensure that the same profile is applied across Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator. This ensures consistency in my work.


As a designer, I used to consider it redundant and a waste of space. I have gotten a little bit into hobby photography to compliment my profession. Adobe Bridge is an amazing tool here, to go over it quickly:

  • If you are a photographer, you have many many images to deal with. You can use it to organize your pictures in a much quicker and efficient way than explorer.

  • You can add meta tags, categories, labels, star ratings, etc... to all the images you have, and you have a quick way to look at them all in one place. This is great for filtering out the junk.

Designers: - If you're using Windows, Bridge will be the superior file asset manager, as you can directly see good-quality PSD, AI, EPS, etc... thumbnails without it lagging on display. If you are a designer, you can see all your EPS logos and PSD files directly in the window, without clicking on them, and without needing to open them first. This cuts time in half.

  • You can organize these same design assets in the same way as photographs. You can also give them star ratings, labels, etc... So if for instance you want to see all your 'blue' PSDs, all you do is tag it as 'blue, 24bit, company name' and you can use all these things as a search query. You can also star rate them as your best work being 5 stars, etc...it's a bit work to add these tags, not much (you can just 'check' them in one of the panels), but way more powerful in potential than what Windows Explorer can offer you. You can see everything right there without navigating through folder labyrinths!

  • Batch changes

Once again, Finder has many features that Bridge does, but Finder only works on OSX. On Windows however, this is probably the best alternative.

  • Nice answer, and welcome aboard. I'll have to take a look at Bridge again; I've never really explored its search capabilities.
    – Ryan
    Jun 22, 2015 at 1:14

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