Photoshop vs. Adobe Bridge: Beware the Cache, the Cache Must Die!
dekePod Episode 014: At fourteen, dekePod is officially a teenager. So it's fitting that the topic of this episode takes us into the somewhat adult and potentially salacious territories of sovereignty and privacy. I'm not talking cookies or spyware. Your trusted commercial software--the stuff you pay hundreds of dollars for--may be tracking your every move.
It's like this: Despite the many warnings to the contrary, we tend to imagine that our computers acquiesce to our collective control. No software goes unchecked; no program reveals our misdeeds. And yet, these are exactly the sorts of treasonous acts that a certain group of programs--known as digital asset managers, or DAMs for short--are designed to perform on a daily basis.
Take as an example the worst offender, Adobe's very own Bridge. While the Bridge is capable of reviewing hundreds of image thumbnails in a matter of minutes, it has to store those thumbnails somewhere, and that somewhere is known as the cache. Review enough thumbnails and the cache may grow to extraordinary sizes. A single cache file may be several gigabytes in size! Plus, the cache remembers everything you've seen. So much as glimpse a naughty image and its pixels become permanent members of the cache. Here's the official marketing description:
If you use Photoshop, then you probably browse your images with Adobe’s Bridge, which shows you thumbnails of your files. Good news: The Bridge lets you preview images without going to the trouble of opening them. Bad news: Those previews result in large cache files that eat up your hard drive. Worse yet, they permit others to track what you’ve been looking at. Even if you’ve long since destroyed the original file, the thumbnail persists! Learn how to protect yourself--and maybe even save your job.
This eye-opening video shows several ways to locate and examine all CS3 and CS4 cache files on your hard drive. I'll reveal the paths to these files (as well as how to search invisible and protected system files) in a future post. In the meantime, let me share this:
Top-Secret Tip: To entirely obliterate all cache files from inside the Bridge, choose Edit > Preferences (Mac users: that's Adobe Bridge > Preferences), select Cache from the left-hand list, and click the Purge Cache button.
Bear in mind, that kills all cache files associated with that one and only one version of the Bridge. Which is why the video documents the more reliable and nuanced approach.
Suffice it to say, this is one of those rare insights that can save you from a lot of future pain. If you're interested in downloading the video for future reference, try one of these links:
- For a high-quality QuickTime movie, right-click here and choose Save Target or Download Link or the equivalent.
- For an M4V file that you can play on an iPod, right-click here and choose one of those same commands.
- Or you can subscribe to dekePod via RSS or iTunes.
You can also check out the page at my book publisher O'Reilly Media.
Quite obviously, the Bridge can be a nuisance if permitted to run amok. But lest you think it a bad program, it can be a godsend when put to proper use. (I myself use it almost every day.) To familiarize yourself with the Bridge, read Lesson 1, "Open and Organize," from my bestselling book, Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One. Or log onto lynda.com and check out the eighteen movies in Chapter 2, "Open and Organize," from my landmark video series "Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals."
Like an undomesticated pet, the exceedingly powerful Bridge is most inclined to submit to an informed user. By which I mean: You.