The Pain of iTunes Artwork

by brian d foy

Related link:

I have about 30 Gb of music, and now that I have iTunes 4, which can show artwork (e.g. album covers) for a track, I want to add that where I can. iTunes adds the artwork to the MP3 file itself.

I tried this a while ago by searching for the album on Amazon then saving the image and importing it into iTunes. It was a very lengthy process. A couple people have dodgy Perl scripts that try to automate this, but they have not worked right for me.

I read about iTunes Catalog, which scans the iTunes XML file, finds as much artwork as it can, then has a nice interface to see what it thinks is the right album cover and to let you import that artwork into MP3 files. Even cooler, it saves the artwork it finds so I can see it without a network connection. I tried the demonstration version, which fully works, but only for artist's names starting with A through E.

For popular music, the application works wonderfully, although I had to do a little extra work for Ani Difranco's First Album, The Best of Schoolhouse Rock, and The Anna Russel Album. The process fails horribly for most of the art music that I have. I had similar problems cleaning up the CDDB entries for the same music, so I expected this.

I found another application, FetchArt, which said it could work as a script in the iTunes Scripts menu. However, after I installed this without a problem, when I tried to run it, I got a warning saying that it only works with Perl 5.6, which I got rid of a long time ago when I installed 5.8. I took a look at the code and did not see anything that should keep it from working, but I abandoned it anyway.

Now, iTunes Catalog realizes that not everything will work right and sometimes I might need to refine a search to find what I want. However, I think searching Amazon on my own is just as easy, so I am back where I started, not because the technology is missing, but the data are so bad.

How do you handle iTunes artwork?


2004-01-22 16:31:28
iTunes ArtWOrk
This is an app that I found to be very useful, although it's most advertised feature is quite useless in my opinion. You can play through your iTunes lib. and as each song plays it will try it's hardest to find the correct coverArt, and if it does so successfully it will display it in the applications window, you can then drag and drop it into your iTunes art window.

2004-01-23 04:20:28
The real pain ...
... is that iTunes stores the artwork inside the mp3 files. The size of your collection will grow noticeable.

It should really become an iTunes option to store artwork as a separate file in the album directory and display it for every mp3 in the same directory.


Use Synergy ( )to display a floating window with artwork from google.

Use Album Grabber ( to download artwork from googl or

Use ExportArtwork ( to export the artwork from mp3s to files.

2004-01-23 04:43:18
I use a widget called iTunes Companion:

"iTunes Companion searches for album cover art for your current iTunes track at and downloads it to your hard drive. The image is only downloaded once. The next time you play that track it finds the image on your hard drive. It searches for artwork in your iTunes Library before going to, and you can also scan the album cover yourself if it can't be found at Amazon."

There are lots of other great iTunes widget for


2004-01-23 06:46:52
I've found Amazon's cover art lacking. I much prefer AllMusicGuide at

Their pictures always seem to fill up the space allowed and they've got every CD I own.

To make it go quicker, I select all the tracks in an album. Then I drag the image from my browser (OmniWeb in my case), press F9 to see all the open windows, move my mouse over the iTunes window, and drop the image into the artwork space. It avoids the whole saving of the file to disk.

2004-01-23 07:41:53
Welcome to Wal*Mart
Wal*Mart's online music store actually has decent album art. The files are larger than Amazon's.
2004-01-23 07:44:59
The real pain ...
Synergy grabs its art from Amazon, and Amazon has started blocking its requests. Still a great program, though.
2004-01-23 10:02:38
I second using Their artwork is less saturated than the iTMS and I often use it to replace the artwork on tracks I've bought there. If allmusic and amazon don't have the artwork, time to use Google.
2004-01-23 13:01:48
Few tips
If you are using Synergy (if not, shame on you) you have all the CD covers of the songs played in iTunes if they were looked up on Amazon. Synergy requests the artwork from Amazon, but only once and then it is stored in a folder called Album Covers.

Go to: ~/Library/Application Support/Synergy/Album Covers

There they are. Now, all you have to do is drop them into iTunes. Someone with some time and smarts could probably write an applescript to do it.

To use a piece of artwork for more than one song, select all the songs you want, highlight them, and drop the artwork into itunes. In addition to whole CDs, this is handy for smart playlists, such as Christmas tunes where you may want all the artwork the same. You can remove artwork by selecting get info and then artwork.

Now, if only itunes would add this feature in the next version. Also, itunes will store multiple artwork for each song. To delete artwork select Get Info for that track and delete the desired artwork by selecting the Artwork tab.

A side note, one could use Sofa and Synergy and not have to open iTunes at all until you needed to do something more complicated like create a smart playlist.

2004-01-23 13:23:08
Few tips
This is rob again. BTW, Sofa will automatically pull in artwork to iTunes while it plays the songs and will do multiple CDs. You also have the ability to chose what service it picks the artwork from as some said that Amazon is blocking the service. I did not notice that myself. Good luck. I really like to use Sofa and Synergy.


2004-02-26 08:46:24
Windows solution
You could always try my site:

It's a free online service, that generates album covers from your iTunes songlist using Amazon.

It works with Windows and Macs...

2004-09-08 21:06:37
itunes art fetcher for windows
I wrote an art fetcher + music bookmarker + music finder (brings together net radio/amazon/itunes music store) for windows:

2005-01-16 12:16:36
Also available: iCoverArt (Windows)
We've also released a utility to embed cover art into songs within iTunes.

It's "FairWare" -- pay whatever you think is fair.

2005-08-14 15:58:21
Windows solution
This site is so cool.

There's a couple of albums that don't show like Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason which is odd considering the status of the band and album but there are huge amounts of albums it picks up.

Kudos to you realradix you did supreme

Found a Free program
2006-02-26 00:34:54
I found this website that finds every single artwork, size 500 x 500, of every album that you could find at an online store or tower records. It is free, and its not a program, it is a website that uploads your iTunes library xml file and gives you a list of all of the Album Artwork that you dont already have in iTunes. I found this very useful, because you can just drag it into the iTunes artwork part that says "Drag Image Here to Add Artwork (on bottom left corner)"
BTW, that free program is..
2006-02-26 00:36:08
OH btw, the site of this program is at
2006-04-09 19:30:07
This program worked great on my iTunes library!
2006-04-09 19:37:24

Here is the link:

2006-05-12 18:04:57
if you use mp3s, then i'd switch your ripper from itunes to musicmatch. musicmatch grabs the album art when it is ripping a cd to mp3 and embeds them right then. no extra software necessary. however, this is only good for when you're ripping, if you have an existing library this doesn't help much. and if you want your library in aac or lossless, then it doesn't help much either.