Adobe Bridge Tip 4 - Collections

April 24, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Using Collections in Bridge is a great way to be able to find images quickly and smart collections make life even easier but first we need to talk about 'Keywords'.


Keywords are very important for one reason, finding your images. Keywords are used within Bridge to search for images but not only this, they are used on websites and with all other image manipulation software. When you add keywords to an image you make it a whole lot easier to find an image again. Please read my article on Keywords HERE to get more information and a better understanding.


First of all, you need to ensure that you have 'Collections' panel visible in one of your panels in the Bridge workspace. If it is there by default it will be the same window as the 'Filter' panel. If it isn't there, you will need to add it. To do this just right click at the top of one of the panels within the Bridge workspace and select 'Collections Panel' from the list. You now have collections visible on the Bridge workspace. What you will notice is that the collections panel is empty and there are no collections in the window.

collectionscollections    collections2collections2


There are two types of collections in Bridge, there are ordinary collections (brown folder) and there are smart collections (blue folder).

To create and use ordinary collections, open Bridge and navigate to a folder of images. Now highlight in that folder all of the images that are related to each other such as all of the landscapes or all of the images containing a car etc. Use the click then shift + click to pick a series of images or use ctrl + click to pick or deselect individual images.

Once you have them highlighted then look for the 'New Collection' icon in the bottom right of the collections panel and click it. You will notice that a message pops up that asks 'Include Selected Files in the New Collection?', click 'Yes'.

coll iconcoll icon    coll messagecoll message

You will now see that the collections panel has a new folder that is awaiting your input to give it a title. Use something that is relevant to the images that you selected such as cars or vehicles or transport etc. You will also notice that the content pane is now showing the images you selected and that is because they are part of the collection you created.

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It is worth noting at this point that Bridge has not duplicated your files, it has just referenced them in the collections folder. The number next to the collection title is the number of images referenced in the collection.

Now navigate away from the collection to another folder and if possible, a completely different drive. Find some pictures that would fall under the description of the collection and display them in Bridge. Now highlight all of the relevant images in this new folder and holding down the left mouse button, click and drag them to the collection folder and then release the mouse button. You notice that the number next to the collection title has increased by the number of additional images dropped into the folder. Again, these images are only referenced and not copied.

So you can have any image from any folder within any drive attached to your computer in a collection.

You can remove an image from a collection at any time by right clicking and selecting 'Remove From Collection'. DO NOT delete the image from the collection because it will delete the image from your computer. You can however delete the collection folder and the images will not be deleted from your computer.

Smart Collections

This is where collections get really clever and far more useful but they rely almost solely on metadata but, the advantage is that all that you need to do is add a keyword to have an image added to a smart collection and here's how that works.

First of all lets add some keywords to a few images by reading my tutorial HERE or by highlighting several images and then clicking the keywords panel. Create a new keyword and tick it or tick the box of an existing keyword to add the keyword to the selected images. For this example I am going to use the keyword 'Bird'.

Now navigate back to the collections panel and click on the 'New Smart Collection' icon. You'll notice that a new window has appeared entitled 'Smart Collection' and that you need to enter some criteria for it work as we want it to.

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In the new window, the fist selection to make is in the 'Source' area and the 'Look In' pull down menu allows us to select a location on the computer to look for images with the criteria that we are looking for, in this case, the Keyword Bird. I store my images on a separate drive in a folder named 'Photographic Storage' although you may just be using 'My Pictures' but essentially we need to choose where our images are located on the computer.


Next is the 'Criteria' section and as you will see when you pull down the first menu, there are a number of options you can use here. For the purposes of this exercise leave it as the default 'Keywords'. The next line along should read 'Contains' which is what we need to select for this to work but you could use other options for different results. The last line is the word that we wish the collection to search for and that should be the same as the keyword you added a few steps earlier so go ahead and type it in.


If you want to include more than one criteria you can add additional lines by clicking the '+' symbol to the right of this line.

Next is the 'Results' area and the first thing to do is to tick the 'Include All Subfolders' tick box. This tells the collection to look in all of the folders in a location. If you leave this un-ticked it will only look in the folder you selected above and not into the folders within it. I always tick the 'Include Non-indexed Files' but this is not necessary.

The 'Match:' refers to the lines selected under 'Criteria', if you add several criteria lines, here you tell the collection that 'If Any Criteria Are Met' then show the image in the collection. Alternatively you can select 'If All of the Criteria Are Met' which won't add the image to the collection unless the image satisfies all of the criteria you have set.


Now click the 'Save' button.

You should now have a blue coloured folder in the collections panel waiting for you to give it a meaningful name and hopefully some images within.

smart namesmart name

If you highlight this collection the content pane should now be filling with images with the keyword 'Bird'. So, if you now go to another folder and give some additional images the same keyword, they will automatically be added to the collection. This saves you adding the images manually and is a great tool for finding images at a later date.

Welcome to the world of Collections

Dave Sumner


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