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Using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge

If you made the switch to Affinity Photo to avoid the Adobe Subscription costs, it’s possible you’re missing Lightroom. As great as Affinity Photo is, it doesn’t have the digital asset management (DAM) tools needed to organise thousands of images effectively. That’s why this article explains how to use Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge to provide the missing DAM features. Best of all, Adobe Bridge is free so you can still avoid the Adobe monthly subscription.

Getting Started with Asset Management

Before we look at how to integrate Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge there are a couple of things you need to do:

  1. Download and Install Adobe Bridge if you haven’t already. How you do this changes from time to time but currently you need to set up an Adobe account. You can then download and install Adobe Bridge for free.
  2. Organise your photos into folders. Whilst this isn’t essential, it will help as your photo library grows. If you’re wondering about the best way see my article explaining how to manage your photos.

Now you’re ready to start using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge.

Exploring Adobe Bridge

This isn’t an Adobe Bridge tutorial (I’ll be publishing some of those in the future), but a couple of introductory points may help you. Below you can see the layout of the Adobe Bridge interface which I’ve numbered.

  1. Along the top of the interface are different views you can choose. Most of the things you’ll need to do can probably done using the Essentials section.
  2. There’s a range of panels on either side the interface arranged into tabs. In area 2 you’ll find the Folders tab. You can use this to select and brows folders on your computers drives. The contents of the folder then display in the central area of the screen as thumbnails.
  3. When you select a thumbnail in the central grid, you see a preview in the Preview panel.
  4. You’ll also see the metadata for the selected image displayed in the metadata panel. The other tab next to this is the Keywords panel where you can view, add and edit the keywords for the selected image.
  5. You can use the Filters panel to filter the main thumbnail grid. This restricts the view to display only the files meeting your criteria.

It’s possible your Adobe Bridge layout might look different to this because you can customise it. To reset it back to the default, select “Window | Workspaces | Reset Standard Workspaces” in the Bridge menu.

Accessing Affinity Photo from Adobe Bridge

It’s relatively easy to open an image for editing in Affinity Photo from Adobe Bridge. In the main window, right click on the image you want to edit.

In the Popup menu, select the “Open With” option. This displays a list of the installed editors you could use, including Affinity Photo.

Choose Affinity Photo from the list of applications. You’ll then see Affinity Photo open and the selected image loaded for editing.

After applying your edits to the image in Affinity Photo you’ll probably want to save the image. So let’s look at how that works and how to improve the integration.

Saving Affinity Photo Images to Adobe Bridge – Option 1

As an Affinity Photo user, I’m sure you’ll be aware that Affinity Photo uses the Affinity Photo format. This is a special format supported by the Affinity products, but not by Adobe Bridge. If you save an image in this format, all you see in Adobe Bridge is a thumbnail showing the Affinity Photo logo.

As you’ll probably be saving your images in the Affinity Photo format to preserve the editing layers, it’s a good idea to also save a small JPEG version of the finished image. You can do this in Affinity Photo using the File | Export option. Then back in Adobe Bridge you can group the images together using the Stack feature.

To create a Stack in Adobe Bridge, select the images you want to group. You can then right click on one of these images and select “Stack | Group as Stack” in the popup menu. This creates the image stack which you can then reorder by clicking and dragging the thumbnails to place the JPEG on top. Now when you collapse the Stack you see the JPEG image as a preview and below this you have the Affinity Photo file.

Saving Affinity Photo Images to Adobe Bridge – Option 2

There’s a second option you might want to consider, improving using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge. We can do this by making a configuration change in Affinity Photo.

Start by opening Affinity Photo and open the Preferences dialog.

Select the General option in the Preferences dialog. This opens the General Preferences dialog.

In Affinity Photo’s General preferences, you’ll find an option to “Enable Save over imported PSD files”. After selecting this, if you’re editing a PSD file using Affinity Photo, when you click the Save option it saves to the PSD file. You don’t need to Export the PSD file.

If you’re going to use this be sure to read the warning message first.

What this means is that when Affinity Photo saves a PSD format image, it might not retain some of the features of the original PSD file. If you’ve done a lot of image editing using Adobe Photoshop in the past, take care. Saving the PSD in Affinity Photo might lose some of the information if you reopen the image in Photoshop. It’s worth testing this with some copy PSD files. This is very important if you have a lot of time invested historically in Photoshop editing. Be sure to check things like masks, alpha channels and smart objects.

Assuming you’re fine with the warning, save the preference change and restart Affinity. Now when you open and save a PSD file in Affinity Photo, clicking File | Save in the menu saves directly to the PSD file. If you go back to Adobe Bridge, you’ll see the thumbnail for the PSD updates to reflect the changes.

Other File Formats

Interestingly, this integration also seems to apply to some other file formats. For example, try opening and editing a JPEG image in Affinity Photo and clicking File | Save. You should see a message like this one displayed.

If you click the Save As option, you see the regular save dialog where you can save the image in the Affinity Photo format. But if you click the “Save Flattened” button it saves the changes back to the JPEG file. You then see the updated JPEG in Adobe Bridge.

Improving Integration Between Affinity Photo and Adobe Bridge

There’s another step you can take to further improve the integration between Affinity Photo and Adobe Bridge. This involves changing the file associations in Adobe Bridge.

We’ve already mentioned that if you right click on an image in Adobe Bridge you can select which application to open it with. But there’s another option which is to use Open from the popup menu. This causes the image to open in the default or associated application. The same also happens when you double click the image or file thumbnail. Fortunately, Bridge has a page of preferences where we can change which application is associated with each file type.

Start by opening the Adobe Bridge Preferences from the menu. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut Cmd + K (Mac) or Ctrl + K (PC).

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On the left side of the dialog click on “File Type Associations” in the list. This displays all the file types recognised by Adobe Bridge together with the associated application (if any).

In the list of file types find the ones that you want to open using Affinity Photo. You can then set each of these to “Affinity Photo” by clicking the dropdown list. In the screenshot you can see that I’ve set Fujifilm Camera RAW files to open in Affinity Photo. Now when I double click a Fuji RAW file in Adobe Bridge, the RAW file automatically opens in Affinity Photo.

Summary of Using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge

We’ve looked at a few ways to improve the integration between Affinity Photo and Adobe Bridge in this tutorial. Using these tips, you should find the two applications work well together. Adobe Bridge is a very capable library manager for your photography and best of all it’s free. By using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge, you create an excellent system for managing and editing your photo library whilst avoiding subscription costs.

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Photo Editing Tutorials Using Affinity Photo with Adobe Bridge