How to use keywords in Adobe Bridge
Apply Adobe Bridge keywords to your files

The Keywords panel lets you create and apply Adobe Bridge keywords to files. Keywords can be organized into hierarchical categories consisting of parent keywords and child keywords (called subkeywords). Using keywords, you identify files based on their content. For example, you can use the Filter panel to view all files in a folder that share keywords, and you can use the Find command to locate files that contain the specified keyword.

Create new keywords or subkeywords

  1. In the Keywords panel, select a keyword.

    For example, if you select Names, adding a new keyword creates a keyword on the same level as Names, such as Sports; and adding a new subkeyword lets you create a keyword under Names, such as Juanita.

  2. Click the New Keyword button  orNew Sub Keyword button  or choose either New Keyword or New Sub Keyword from the panel menu.
  3. Type the keyword name and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

If you want a parent keyword to be used for structural purposes only, place the keyword in brackets, such as [Names]. Keywords in brackets cannot be added to files.


You can also add keywords by using the Find box at the bottom of the Keywords panel. Use commas to indicate subkeywords and semicolons to indicate separate entries. For example, to add “Los Angeles” to the Places category, select the “Places” keyword, type Los Angeles, and then click the New Sub Keyword button.

Add keywords to files

  1. Select the file or files to add keywords to.
  2. In the Keywords panel, select the box next to the name of the keyword or subkeyword. Shift-click the box to select all parent keywords.

A check mark appears in the box next to the keyword when it’s added to a selected file. If you select multiple files, but the keyword was added to only some of them, a hyphen (-) appears in the keyword box.


If you Shift-click a subkeyword, the parent keywords are also added to the file. To change the behavior so that clicking a subkeyword automatically adds the parent keywords (and Shift-clicking adds only the subkeyword), select Automatically Apply Parent Keywords in Keywords preferences.

Remove keywords from a file

  • To remove the check mark, select the file, and then click the box next to the name of the keyword or keyword set. To remove the check mark from all parent keywords as well, Shift-click the keyword box.
  • To remove a check mark forcibly, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the keyword box. This method is especially useful when you select multiple files to which the keyword was applied only to some, causing a hyphen to appear in the keyword box. To forcibly remove a check mark from a keyword and its parents, press Alt+Shift (Windows) or Option+Shift (Mac OS) and click the keyword box.
  • Select the file, and then choose Remove Keywords from the Keywords panel menu. To remove all keywords from the file, click Yes.

    Tip: To lock a file so that keywords can’t accidentally be removed, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the file in the Content panel and choose Lock Item. When an item is locked, you cannot add or remove keywords, edit metadata, or apply labels or ratings.

Manage keywords

  1. Do any of the following:
    • To rename a keyword, select the keyword or keyword set and choose Rename from the panel menu. Then, type over the name in the panel and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

      Note: When you rename a keyword, the name changes only for the selected files. The original keyword name stays in all other files to which the keyword was previously added.

    • To move a keyword to a different keyword group, drag the keyword to the parent keyword in which it should appear, and then release the mouse button.

    • To change a subkeyword to a keyword, drag the subkeyword below the list of keywords, to the bottom of the Keywords panel.

    • To delete a keyword, select the keyword by clicking its name, and then click the Delete Keyword button  at the bottom of the panel or choose Delete from the panel menu.

      Note: Temporary keywords, such as keywords that you get from other users, appear in italics in the Keywords panel. To make temporary keywords permanent in Adobe Bridge, right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-click (Mac OS) the keyword and choose Make Persistent from the context menu.

    • To expand or collapse keyword categories, click the arrow next to the category, or choose Expand All or Collapse All from the panel menu.

    • To search for files using keywords, choose Find from the Keywords panel menu. (See Search for files and folders with Adobe Bridge.)

Find keywords

  1. In the box at the bottom of the Keywords panel, type the name of the keyword you’re looking for.

By default, all keywords containing the characters you type are highlighted. The first occurrence is highlighted in green; all subsequent occurrences are highlighted in yellow. Click Find Next Keyword or Find Previous Keyword to select a different highlighted keyword.


To highlight only keywords that begin with the characters you type, click the magnifying glass icon in the search box and choose Starts With as the search method. For example, if Contains is selected, typing “in” highlights both “Indiana” and “Maine”; if Starts With is selected, only “Indiana” is highlighted.

Import or export keywords

You can import tab-indented text files exported from other applications, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You can also export Adobe Bridge keywords as text files. These files are encoded as UTF-8 or ASCII, which is a subset of UTF-8.

  • To import a keyword file into Adobe Bridge without removing existing keywords, choose Import from the Keywords panel menu, and then double-click the file to import.
  • To import a keyword file into Adobe Bridge and remove existing keywords, choose Clear And Import from the Keywords panel menu, and then double-click the file to import.
  • To export a keyword file, choose Export from the Keywords panel menu, specify a filename, and click Save.