Take Charge With Bridge: Creating a Keywords List
Part 1 of the Controlling Chaos With Metadata series dealt with metadata that is automatically generated on file creation, such as camera data or linked files, and adding metadata, such as copyright, directly in the Metadata panel or by using Metadata Templates. Keywords are a subset of metadata that are so vital, Adobe Bridge ships with a panel dedicated to using them, and even installs a Keywords Workspace (accessed from the Workspace list). You can, of course, use any workspace you like with the Keywords panel. This article discusses the first step of creating a keywords list. Later articles will delve deeper into the nitty gritty of using keywords in Bridge.
In the default Keywords workspace, you might be able to push keywords into a separate column by scaling the thumbnails.
Using List view, drag the Keywords column next to the Name column to quickly note the keywords assigned to files
As Simple As Possible
If you’re a professional photographer, you may have been given a list of keywords to use, or purchased a set, but most of us just need a simple list that will help us find files quickly, yet not overburden us with maintenance. This is a very difficult balancing act, and you shouldn’t expect to get it right from the outset. If you’re seriously involved in winemaking, you might need a list of all the grapes used to make it. If, however, the most involved you get with wine is drinking it, you don’t need to create a list of varietals just to cover the photos you took with Aunt Bessie last year on a winery tour in Napa. Still, you might want to create keywords for Vacations > Napa, and People > Relatives > Aunt Bessie > Sloshed (assuming you often take pictures of Aunt Bessie and she’s often, not always, sloshed).
Keyword Hierarchy in Bridge
As just illustrated, keywords in Bridge are hierarchical. With no keyword selected, clicking the Plus icon at the bottom of the panel places your keyword at the root as a main subject. With a category selected, clicking on the little Plus icon with an arrow creates a subcategory, such as “Varietals” under “Winemaking.” Subcategories to “Varietals” could be “Chardonnay” and “Zinfandel.” If you add growing regions to Winemaking > Locales, and now want all files relating to Zinfandel grapes grown in Dalmatia, not California, you can search using multiple keywords, and across multiple folders if necessary, to find them.
To add many keywords to a category quickly, type multiple keywords in the Search field separated by a comma or semicolon, select the category you want to add them to, then click the subcategory icon.
By creating a nested hierarchy of keywords, you don’t have to replicate that nested hierarchy on your computer with folders containing folders containing more folders. Even if you’ve chosen to create some nested subfolders within very large folders, you won’t have to manually dig through all those subfolders. You can search for files with keywords over your entire computer, any single folder, or a folder and all of its subfolders.
Search your entire computer, just a folder, or a folder and all its subfolders using the Find dialog box
Keyword List Management
Bridge also makes it easy to add, modify, and remove keywords from our lists. While I wouldn’t advocate constantly renaming or deleting keywords you’ve added to many files, it’s not fatal if you do. You can use the context-sensitive menu to rename keywords you’ve misspelled or want to make more descriptive. You can also delete any you no longer want, but if you’ve assigned a keyword, it remains with the file until you manually remove it since you’re changing your list, not keyword assignments. Anytime you select a file with a keyword that’s not in your list, Bridge will list it in italics at the bottom of the panel in the “Other Keywords” category. Ctrl-click/right-click to choose Make Persistent if you want to keep the keyword without altering your list, or drag it into your list to add it permanently.
Keywords not in your current list are added to the panel without modifying the list. If you want to add a keyword to another list later, select it and choose Make Persistent.
Whenever you make an effort to create or modify your list, you want to also create a backup. Bridge lets you export your list to another folder anywhere on your computer (there’s no Sync feature currently in Bridge). The Export command, along with Import, and Clear and Import, is found in the Keywords panel’s flyout menu. Bridge saves its version of your keywords list as an .xml file in your user library. You can export your keywords backup to a plain text file that you can easily share, or even edit in a text editor, but do read the Bridge Help files before you attempt that. Import will merge the incoming list with your existing list, while Clear and Import replaces your current list with the incoming list. Since these lists can get quite long, you may even prefer to work with short lists, replacing them frequently when you switch from one type of project to another.
The Keywords flyout menu provides access to importing and exporting keywords lists.
Excuses to Avoid Using Keywords
I doubt I’ve heard them all, but I’ve heard these often:
1. It’s too hard and will take too long to come up with a useful list.
Your time is worth something, and sometimes it’s easier to throw money at a problem. One set of keywords you can purchase that’s very complete is the Keyword Catalog at www.keyword-Catalog.com.
2. I have thousands of files that don’t have keywords. It’s too late to start now. I’ll never catch up.
True, but you could take one folder with important files in it and apply keywords just to that folder. Maybe next week you can take another folder—or just start with files you create today. Like housework, it will never get done, but it can get better. You’ll be able to quickly find some of your files.
3. It’s way too boring to add keywords to files.
It is. What’s even more boring is constantly opening folder after folder trying to find your files, knowing you have the right file somewhere.
Hopefully by now you’ve decided that you do want to associate keywords with your files. In the next article, I’ll talk about what to do with your keywords list once you’ve got it. Fortunately, applying keywords and using them in searches is much easier than creating the list itself.
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