How can I effectively manage all my design assets?
I'm looking for a way to manage all of my design assets on my Mac. I've been accumulating stuff like templates, graphics, vectors, textures, stock images etc for a while, and the amount of stuff that I have on my computer is very difficult to sort through when I am looking for something.
Is there any program out there that will make this job easier? I want some way of categorizing files (tagging would be nice) and being able to browse through and view them.
I already have Creative Suite, but I'm looking for something other than Bridge. That is, unless you can explain to me how to use Bridge effectively for this purpose!
Thanks for any help you can offer.
The starting point, as DA01 says, is to put a bit of physical order into the chaos. The first step is mapping out the categories that are important to you, letting that list guide the physical arrangement of assets on your system.
In my case, I have stock photography in its own folder, and within that I have folders for broad categories that are useful to me: People, divided into Male, Female, Mixed, Children; Symbolic; Scenic and similar categories. There's a similar breakdown for vector art, sound effects, stock video, stock audio. Backgrounds have their own folder, again subdivided.
Assets that are more project- or client-specific live in folders under the client (e.g., various logos, standard publicity shots, etc.) or the project folder. Corporate identity assets that I've designed are always subdivided by type: web, vector CMYK, vector and raster RGB (for desktop printing, usually by client office staff).
For theater work, I have to keep individual folders for each act's approved images, bios, ad mats, audio clips, tour data, etc.. Assets are used multiple times across print, large format, web and video projects through a season. Each new season has its own set of acts (but sometimes returning acts for which I already have assets). Managing all these would be challenging without Bridge.
What I use heavily are Collections in Bridge. In the case of theater projects, I create a collection for a season, so I have all the assets instantly available, even though they are in different folders and never physically move. Collections are active in Mini Bridge also, so you have drag-and-drop access from inside any of the CS applications.
A major advantage of collections is they are a "soft" grouping of assets. They let you collect everything together for a project while you're working on it, then simply delete the collection (but not the assets!) when you're done with it. Smart Collections are even more fun. They will automatically include assets according to criteria you specify.
Keywording assets lets you search all the folders Bridge knows about very quickly, and many stock images come equipped with a slew of keywords that Bridge already knows about.
Bridge has its Ctl/Cmd-B preview feature that lets you carousel through a bunch of assets to pick the one you want to use.
I'd recommend digging into Bridge in a big way, because it's loaded with little-known productivity features. (And as a tip: having Bridge open all the time on its own monitor helps a lot.)