How To Open Files & Photos Into Adobe Camera Raw

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May 7, 2021
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When people think of Adobe Camera Raw, they oftentimes think of the program that's nestled within Photoshop that opens raw files. While that's true, what folks may not be aware of is that Camera Raw also opens, and allows manipulation of, many types of files - not only raw ones.

In this post, I'm going to walk you through how to open raw files right from Photoshop, into Camera Raw. From there, I'll go over a trick or two and after that, I'll bring Adobe Bridge into the loop and tell you why Bridge is the way to go. It's the tool more professionals use.

Opening Raw Files From Photoshop​

If you've got some raw files that you'd like to open in Camera Raw, you can do so straight from Photoshop. All you need to do is to head up to the "File > Open" menu, find your raw files on your computer, external hard drive or whatever medium you're storing your images on and click the button at the bottom of the dialog box that says "Open."

NOTE: If you'd like a larger view of any example image in this post, simply right click on it and choose "Open Image In New Tab."



As you can see, I'm choosing a .CR2 file. This is because the shots we took were captured on a Canon camera. Canon uses this extension for its raw files.

Once I click Open, Camera Raw should launch inside of Photoshop. Well, "inside" may not be the proper term. Camera Raw launches on top of Photoshop, in its own window.


From here, I can maximize the Camera Raw window to give me more working space or simply begin editing my photograph with the sliders in the right column. I'll write many more posts on editing photos in Camera Raw, so I won't get into that here.


Opening JPEG and TIFF Files Into Camera Raw​

Before I got into advanced photography, I used the "auto" settings on my DSLR camera quite a bit. And in doing so, I shot virtually all my photographs as JPEG files. And for years, to edit these files, I'd open them directly into Photoshop for editing. Now that I'm "one with the raw," I don't shoot JPEGs anymore. But since I'm aware of all the great editing capabilities of Camera Raw, I like to edit, not only raw images with it, but JPEGs as well. The thing is, by default, opening JPEG files inside of Photoshop brings my files directly to the Photoshop interface. I need them to open in Camera Raw, not Photoshop.

If you'd like to open either JPEG or TIFF files from Photoshop into Camera Raw, all you need to do is change two minor settings. Head up to the "Edit > Preferences" menu in Photoshop and click on "Camera Raw."


Once you do that, a dialog box should appear. Inside this dialog box, you'll find a section toward the bottom that's labeled "JPEG and TIFF Handling" and inside that section, you'll find two drop-down boxes. One handles the opening of JPEG files and the other handles the opening of TIFF files. In my case, since all I ever shot was JPEG files that I now want to open inside of Camera Raw, I would change the default setting of "Automatically Open JPEGs With Settings" to "Automatically Open All Supported JPEGs." Here's a screenshot of the choices from the drop-down. They are identical for TIFF files.


Once my setting is selected, I can go ahead and click "OK" and then follow the same directions I gave in the previous section. All JPEG files will now open inside of Camera Raw, which I can edit and then send straight to Photoshop.

Opening Raw Files In Camera Raw From Adobe Bridge​

Adobe Bridge is for those folks who like the real deal. I've written posts that cover aspects of this program and I have to say, it's very helpful in regards to efficient workflow. If you've read any of my posts, you recognize the virtues of this application.

Opening a raw file from Bridge into Camera Raw is simple. All you need to do is browse your files, choose your photo and then double click on it. This will open the photo inside of Camera Raw.


If you don't want to or don't like double-clicking for some reason, you can select your photo, head up to the "File > Open In Camera Raw" menu item and your photo will open in Camera Raw the same way double-clicking would open it.


Another method for opening raw files from Bridge is to click the small "Open in Camera Raw" icon up in the options menu. It's the one that's shaped like a circle or pinwheel.


If you select your image and then click the icon, Camera Raw will open inside of Bridge as opposed to opening inside of Photoshop. The difference here is that once you're finished editing your photo and click "Done," you'll return to the Bridge interface and not the Photoshop interface. That's helpful if you don't need to further edit your photos in a full photo editor like Photoshop.

Opening JPEG Files In Camera Raw From Adobe Bridge​

Let's talk about opening JPEG files from Adobe Bridge for a moment. If you'd like to open these types of files and you haven't updated the "Preferences" setting I described in an earlier section, and double-click on your photo, you'll end up going straight to Photoshop. If you updated that Preferences setting, you'll jump right to Camera Raw (inside of Photoshop). If you select your JPEG image in Bridge and use any other method for opening a raw file that I just mentioned in the previous section, you'll end up in Camera Raw. I hope that's not too confusing. So basically, if you'd like to open a JPEG file from Bridge and have it appear in Camera Raw, use the "File > Open in Camera Raw" method or the icon method.


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