3 Things to Know about Working in Adobe Bridge

3 Things to Know about Working in Adobe Bridge

Do you open photos direct into Photoshop or do you use Adobe Bridge? If you don’t use Bridge, there are some good reasons for changing your habits.


You may not realize it but some of how Camera Raw behaves depends on whether you open an image from Bridge or from Photoshop. Here’s how:

Freeze Photoshop or not?

Open a Raw image in Photoshop and it opens, of course, in Camera Raw. But look at the screen – Photoshop is open but the window is frozen. You can’t minimize it and you can’t work in Photoshop at the same time as work in ACR.


Close the image and now do the same thing from Bridge – right click a Raw file and choose Open in Camera Raw. See the difference? When you open a Raw file from Bridge it opens in Camera Raw but without seizing the Photoshop window as well. You can still work in Photoshop at the same time as you work in Bridge.

In short, if you want the best of both worlds – Photoshop and Camera Raw then head to Bridge to open your images from there.

Bypass Camera Raw

If you’re in Bridge, you can bypass Camera Raw entirely and open a Raw file direct in Photoshop by holding the Shift key as you double click the image in Adobe Bridge. The image opens automatically in Photoshop. This is handy, for example, if you’ve already processed an image in Camera Raw in the past and if you now want to work on it in Photoshop.


JPGs to Camera Raw

In Camera Raw you can make adjustments and craft images often much more quickly and easily than you can in Photoshop. This being the case, you may want to use Camera Raw for your JPG files as well as your Raw files. In Photoshop CS3 and later versions, you can open any JPG in Camera Raw by right clicking the JPG in Bridge and select Open in Camera Raw. You can’t do the same thing from inside Photoshop.


As a bonus the changes you make to JPG images in Camera Raw are undoable. So, for example, if you convert a JPG to greyscale in Camera Raw and click Done, the photo will show as greyscale in your Bridge thumbnails. However, open the JPG in Camera Raw again and you’ll see the changes aren’t permanent – you can undo them and return the image to full color – don’t try that in Photoshop!

So, if you’re not using Bridge – there are three good reasons for considering changing your workflow habits.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

Some Older Comments

  • therese September 8, 2011 02:33 pm

    Awesome tips, btw. But I converted a Camera Raw file to greyscale and saved it accidently. How do I undo the change? It is sitting in Bridge as a greyscale image. Thank for any help.

  • Steve July 2, 2011 03:03 pm

    I made some corrections in Adobe Bridge CS4 and when I copy them over to my folder the changes that I made are not there. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks in advance for the help!

  • mikhail kibalchenko May 3, 2011 12:22 am

    thanks, i was using iphoto and photoshop but that didnt really work so well. i ll try bridge and photoshop now

  • Erin McLeod November 13, 2010 08:56 am

    Hi: Thank you for your article on using Adobe Bridge to edit. I have actually been using it for some months now with jpeg images and find several of its controls really effective. I learned these through Scott Kelby's Photoshop Elements 8 book. The clarity and vibrance sliders, fill light and recovery options, as well as sharpening options have become mainstays for me. However there are some controls in Bridge not addressed in this book, and I am looking for more information, for example on the gradient tool. Would you know of other tutorials or resources on utilizing Bridge that others such as myself could access? Thanks very much.

  • John October 8, 2010 12:17 am

    Thank for for #3! I've been looking for that forever!!

  • Bobby Mayberry September 2, 2010 02:21 pm

    Bridge is great, I couldn't imagine not using it every time. I use it to download my photos from my cards and I use it to review my photos. The stack feature is great for helping organize photos.

    After I download my photos with Bridge, I open select ones in Adobe Camera Raw and do almost all of my processing there. I seldom go into Photoshop any more, especially when I am taking pix for my job at the newspaper...

  • Martin August 17, 2010 06:52 pm

    Another good point I have found in bridge is meta data templates you can set up and apply templates in bridge and append them to a whole set of images the same applies to Key words. You can set up your keywords and apply to a whole batch of images.

  • VC August 15, 2010 07:04 am

    Bridge is a terrible program. I wouldn't recommend using it, ever. You're better off with Thumbnail views in your OS, or even Lightroom if you're desperate for a viewer (but at 300 bucks it's stupidly overpriced). It's too bad Adobe can't make a decent photo viewer. Additionally, File --> Open settings in Photoshop will do all the things listed here, without needing to use Bridge. It's arguably just as much trouble to click File Open as it is to open Bridge...

  • EEKaWILL August 12, 2010 08:58 am

    what can you do in lightroom that you can't do in bridge? I was wonderin what the pros and cons of each were? I know LR is non destructive but isn't usng camera raw in bridge the same?

  • carson August 10, 2010 04:30 am

    Thanks for this article, just starting to get to know Bridge and this will be helpful.

  • Bridget Casas August 9, 2010 08:59 am

    I have been using Bridge for a while but I was not aware of #2. I know they open in Raw again, so I just did that and then clicked open image. This hint will save me a step! Thank you Helen!

  • Margaret August 6, 2010 10:05 pm

    Thank you for this article. I haven't used Bridge but certainly will be doing now!

  • Mike Faulkner August 6, 2010 02:39 pm

    You may need the latest update for Bridge, Camera RAW and Photoshop. The easiest way is to load Photoshop, go to Help, Updates and follow the instructions.

    Some of the latest Camera model's RAW files are not included in earlier versions of Adobe's RAW converters. For example a Nikon D100 RAW file can be seen in all versions of Adobe Camera RAW but a Nikon D300 and later requires CS4 or later. The Canon 5D and later also require CS4. This means that if an update still won't show your RAW file, you may need to upgrade to a later version of Photoshop.

    Note that you cannot tell which PS version is required just by looking at the file extension. They are the same, only different.

  • Norma August 6, 2010 04:06 am

    I have just moved up to Bridge and CS5 so I find this information very helpful! Thank you.

  • Richard Davis August 3, 2010 03:47 am

    Just be aware that any edits you make with ACR to a JPEG will only show in Adobe products because the parametric edits are stored in an external XMP file that many other JPEG views cannot read. So if you're a PC and you look at your enhanced JPEG in the Windows photo viewer, you'll not see the changes you made.

  • MisterBoubou August 3, 2010 01:40 am

    When you're using Lightroom, is there any interest in using brigde and camera raw?
    As far as I understand, camera raw is included in lightroom and lightroom is a picture manager (like bridge but maybe with less extensions).

  • Sharon August 2, 2010 11:20 pm

    My JPG files open in camera Raw but it won't open my raw files. Not even an option in drop down menu.
    What could be wrong? corrupt files?? I quit shooting for now in camera raw because these files won't open
    but if I use picasa to view they can be viewed. ??

  • Alan August 2, 2010 02:01 am

    I enjoyed this article, but I have a question... I followed the steps in number 1, and even though I can access menus and the tools in Photoshop, I'm not really able to work in Photoshop. For example, I opened an image in Photoshop CS5, then went to Bridge and opened a CR2 image in Camera Raw, but I couldn't work in Photoshop on the other image while Camera Raw was open. Did I misunderstand something here?

  • Jen P August 2, 2010 12:50 am

    I've just recently acquired CS4, and have been using Bridge for the last month or so. The 3rd point was exactly what I was looking for last night, as I was lamenting the year & a half I shot straight JPG before venturing into RAW territory. Now that I can edit photos with more precision (I was using PS7 before), and can get results I never dreamed of before (I've been able to rescue more than 1 photo I couldn't process before), I've been going back on some of my older photos and trying to "fix" them right.

  • Ricardo Galvão August 2, 2010 12:15 am

    Just a little correction..
    We really can open jpg file directly in Photoshop.
    Just using:
    Open as (choose as .RAW)
    ; )
    the attention we must have you say on third item..

    good explanation

  • Nikki August 1, 2010 08:22 am

    Good to know! I've only been using bridge a short while and am still getting to know it -- these three tips are new to me. Thanks!

  • Danferno August 1, 2010 08:00 am

    The last one can also be done in Photoshop - there's an option in the preferences to use the Camera Raw dialogue for RAW/JPG/RAW+JPG.