Adobe Bridge: Star ratings without the Ctrl/Cmd key

In one of the Bridge updates in 2023, we began to notice that Adobe had removed the trusty "Use Control Key to Apply Labels and Ratings" checkbox.

the old setting

How annoyed we were!! We loved that checkbox! We always turned it off so that we could simply use our 1-5 keys to star our photos.

(Mac users, it's Cmd for you of course.)

Well, Adobe (in their most Adobe way) have kept the function available, but made it MUCH more complicated to find. Let me show you ...

Just below Preferences there is now a "Keyboard Shortcuts" menu item:

Edit menu

When you open it, it looks like this:

keyboard shortcuts screen

In the bottom corner, make sure you have "Application" expanded, then scroll down a bit to "Label" and click on "1 Star":

Application Label

Click twice to get rid of the default settings, leaving that area blank:

Remove settings no settings

Then click in the blank area to tell Bridge that you want to type a new shortcut:

click to type

Type 1 from the numbers across the top of your keyboard. Then click in the blank space beside it to make a new shortcut, and type 1 again, but this time from the numeric pad on your keyboard. Now you'll have two new shorts for the 1 Star function, without the pesky Ctrl:

(If your keyboard doesn't have a number pad, of course you only need one shortcut. Or maybe you do have a number pad and it's the only one you EVER use, so you don't need to include my first shortcut.))

Repeat that process for the other star ratings as well:

all done
(You can't see it in my screenshot, but I also did 0,0 for "No Rating". You should do the same.)

While you're in this window, if there are any other keyboard shortcuts you'd like to personalise, go for it.

(This step is optional) You can hit the "Save As..." button at the top and save this as a new set of keyboard shortcuts.

save it

Finally, press OK to exit, and enjoy the simplicity of single-stroke star rating for your photos.


If you'd like to learn a LOT more about Adobe Bridge, consider my Bridge Class. Only ten dollars to change your life.


If you have a question about this article, please feel free to post it in Ask Damien.