iTunes does not add downloaded artwork to files

by Volker Weber

Thomas had recently authorized my computer to use his iTunes account. Today I noticed that the Sonos controller would not show artwork downloaded by iTunes 7 from the iTunes store. So I performed a quick test: Copy the files from the iTunes directory, remove them in iTunes and add them from the copy. No album art !

I conclude that iTunes does not add the album art to the songs itself but only to the iTunes/Album Artwork folder. This renders this iTunes feature completely useless. Worse, it makes files appear to have artwork embedded, when they actually don't.


I am not quite that happy with the automatic artwork either. I wish it would just add it as I play the coresponding song.

Philipp Sury, 2006-09-23

Yes, that "feature" sucks. I noticed this special folder, too and was wondering if the album art really is embedded in the mp3s (as with previous versions of itunes). I guess it's faster this way (especially for cover flow view) ...

Sebastian Herp, 2006-09-23

Actually, I like the idea to use an auxillary folder to store cover artwork. It appears to be much more flexible. Not to mention that this way is faster than writing the artwork into each single MP3/AAC file. And it does not waste that much of disk space, too! :-)

Secondly, it is quiet easy to copy (Cmd + C) the content of the artwork view (containing the cover you've just downloaded), selecting all the track you want to get "infected" by that image, pressing "Cmd+I", and pasting the clipboard's content into the cover field...

It is just a question of time to see some nifty tools out there doing that sequence for you. Automator, anyone?

P.S. What happens if you transfer such an album (artwork as aux file) to your iPod?

Martin Kautz, 2006-09-23

I can understand that you don't want itunes to change the files, but the copy & paste job is the wrong way. If you copy & paste instead of drag & drop the cover tag in the mp3 file itself will be 3 times bigger! And the tool will have to understand how itunes connects the graphic file & the song!

If the music industry wants to get back their buisness impact /size of the late 90ies they have to improve much more and deliver things like:
* mp3 files in whatever encoding quality & filetype you want
* with a chooseable cover resolution like ipod, or 300x300 or 500 x 500 covers
* lyrics & maybe translations
* karaoke control sequences

Than you'll get an added value four our digital world. And this complete service could only be delivered by the seller/producer, all other way will need much manual work to get these results.
OK, not everybody wants fileblasting covers, so he'll get a discount.

Today I can't see anything like this at the horizon (only the itunes 7 cover integration - halfway).
OK russian website's can deliver the 1 point for more than 3 years, but covers, lyrics, translations & karaoke are still missing.

Wolfgang Andreas Bischof, 2006-09-23

Wolfgang, this would be just wonderful. =)

Philipp Sury, 2006-09-23

@Wolfgang: Understanding how iTunes connects the artwork file and its appr. mp3 is no rocket science. Looks like the name of an *.itc file just consists of the 'Library Persistent ID' and the 'Persistent ID' of the appr. album's first track... Both can be found inside the xml file describing the whole library.
At least GraphicsConverter is able to extract the JPEG part of the *.itc file.
Now we just need to know how to embed that image data to a mp3 file... Already an id3 tag concerned framework for Cocoa out there? :-)

Umm, I really wonder what is causing the resulting file size difference between "drag & dropping" and "copy & pasting" manually.

Martin Kautz, 2006-09-24

This is also a pain if you share the same library of music files between accounts on the same machine (or multiple machines or server). when you run itunes in each account it will try to download its own copy of the artwork -as it has no idea another user has artwork in their library.

Justin Knol, 2006-09-24

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Apple were roundly criticised for the “old” method re implementing artwork in iTunes. Inflated files, duplication, etc. However, here’s a possible work-around for shared iTunes libraries: Share iTunes 7 album art when using a shared library

Ben Poole, 2006-09-24

macosxhints has a bit more info on iTunes 7 artwork files.

Olav Brinkmann, 2006-09-24

Thanks Ben and Olav. I think we can safely expect somebody to write a script to automate adding the graphic to the track.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-24

That has already been done (look for "New artwork Property").

Olav Brinkmann, 2006-09-24

Maybe these options (add artwork to files, add artwork to folder, or both) can be set via a policy document and set by the administrator, . . . wait, wrong product.

Wayne Weinheimer, 2006-09-24

the different file size has something to do with the clipboard that handles pictures internally in a bmp format. This format is not compressed and so the filesizes goes up. More details here (german only) - look at the end

MP3Tag ( has the ability to import jpg into mp3 (OK, windows only) - there are special actions like export jpg and more.
You also have the ability to show the id3 tag size & how they grow due the different import methods.

Wolfgang Andreas Bischof, 2006-09-25

Am I the only one to care about my data, about the time i spent tagging and adding covers to my mp3 ? The application doesn't matter; data do.
I currently use Mac/iTunes, but began my library on a PC with some other tagging utilities, and might switch again to some other sytems. I don't want to get stuck with iTunes just because it decided to store my valuable data in a proprietary way, even if an xml file is still readable. I love the mp3 tag system because all the data is carried by the file, and may be used anywhere/anyhow.
iTunes should keep embedding my covers into the files.

By the way, this is my main concern about iPhoto. All titles and comments will be lost if I switch, unless I bother writting some scripts to export them somewhere else.

Alexandre Feblot, 2006-10-11


Can yout tell how I could run the script - you talked about above (artwork export to ID3) - in windows?

Thanx for your answer,

Ralph Vigne, 2006-10-27

AppleScript only runs on ... Macs.

Volker Weber, 2006-10-27

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