#54 Using Mini Bridge
You're probably aware that Bridge is an advanced file browser (with access to ACR for raw files) that is designed to apply various attributes to files so that they can be categorized, sorted, and searched. The primary differences between Lightroom and Bridge are the Bridge user interface and Bridge's ability to handle many file types.
One caveat is that it can be inefficient to frequently switch back and forth between Photoshop and Bridge to find the files you need. This drawback has been resolved in Photoshop CS5 with the new Mini Bridge panel. Mini Bridge is an extension of Bridge CS5 that uses a panel to provide quick access to its basic file-browsing and sorting capabilities. By default, when you open Photoshop, you should be greeted by the Essentials workspace; Mini Bridge is a part of this workspace. To open Mini Bridge (Figure 54a), click the icon panel that displays a folder with the letters "Mb" on it, .
Figure 54a When you first open Mini Bridge, you will have the option to start browsing files from Bridge CS5 immediately or set the Mini Bridge preferences (Settings).
If you click the Browse Files button, Bridge CS5 launches in the background, and a few seconds later, the Mini Bridge UI comes to life with options for looking through your photographs. You may need to drag the edges of the panel outward, so that you can see its controls and options more clearly (Figure 54b).
Figure 54b Mini Bridge provides its own panels (or pods) for navigating folders, scrolling through thumbnails, and previewing individual files.
The primary means for choosing folders and series of images in Mini Bridge is the Navigation Pod, located near the top-left portion of the panel. This pod works as a split viewer and displays four types of image sources: Favorites, Recent Folders, Recent Files, and Collections. When you click an option, Mini Bridge displays the contents on the right side of the view (Figure 54c).
Figure 54c Mini Bridge's Navigation Pod displays content from Bridge CS5's Favorites panel, Collections panel, and recently used folders and files lists.
Another means of navigating with Mini Bridge is to use the built-in Path Navigator widget, located just above the Navigation Pod. This feature allows you to see the path of your currently visible folder, including intermediate folders that you can search by clicking the small chevrons to the right of each folder icon (Figure 54d). You can also click once on any folder icon in the path to jump to that folder in the path hierarchy.
Figure 54d The Path Navigator in Mini Bridge provides another easy way of searching through your folder hierarchy.
To view, scale, sort, or filter through your thumbnails, the Content Pod provides most of the tools you will need to find your images quickly. Figure 54e details the function for each icon.
Figure 54e Mini Bridge's Content Pod.
To preview an image at a larger size inside the panel, click the file and it will appear in the Preview Pod (Figure 54f). If you do not see the Navigation or Preview pods by default, click the Pod pop-up menu and select them, .
Figure 54f The Preview Pod is a great way to get a clearer idea of whether a specific photo meets your criteria. To resize the preview inside the pod, drag the resize handles. To get a full-screen preview, press the Space bar.
The Tools pop-up menu provides access to frequently used Photoshop workflows. For example, a great way to get started with an HDR workflow is to select your bracketed exposures in Mini Bridge, and then choose Merge to HDR Pro from the Tools pop-up menu (Figure 54g).
Figure 54g The Mini Bridge Tools pop-up menu.