how to add iTunes artwork

As the owner of an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you most likely fall into the large percentage of users that utilizes your iOS devices as an MP3 player. Central to your music experience is iTunes, which can be a beast when managing your files. In our continuing series, we’ll help you manage, organize and get the most from your music library. Today we’re tackling the age old problem of missing artwork. If you’ve amassed a large library of music, it’s likely these have come from all sorts of sources including CD rips to iTunes or other means. Missing artwork can result in the depressing gray music symbol. It’s bad enough that today’s music enthusiasts have transitioned from album art to CD covers to a digital image. Cherish your album covers. Listening to Welcome to the Jungle just doesn’t feel right without having the Appetite for Destruction artwork. Here are some useful tips on how add iTunes artwork.

missing artwork

iTunes Get Album Art

iTunes has an option built-in that will search and attempt to bring back the correct album cover art for your music collection. This option is worth a try, but don’t be surprised if you get poor results.

  1. Select one or more albums that are missing artwork.
  2. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) to bring up the contextual menu.
  3. Select ‘Get Album Artwork’
  4. You’ll receive a message that information about your songs will be sent to Apple, although they don’t retain information related to the contents of your library.

If successful, you’ll see it show up immediately in iTunes. If not, have no fear, as there are a number of good alternative paths we can pursue.

Get album artwork iTunes

Find Album Artwork With Google

One of the easier methods is to take advantage of the resources of Google’s image search. Before we get started, open up iTunes and a new browser set to google.com/images. These two windows should be side to side, so we can work between them.

  1. Bookmark google.com/images for fast and easy access.
  2. Select the album within iTunes (using Album view) that is missing artwork.
  3. control-click (PC Users right click) on the album and select Get Info from the drop down menu. You’ll receive a warning about editing multiple items, which you can safely ignore.
  4. Copy the Album name and paste into the image search window in your browser.
  5. Select the image and then click on View Original Image. This will isolate the image in a new browser window.
  6. Back in iTunes, Drag the artwork from the browser window into the box appropriately titled Artwork and drop it when you see a ‘+’ sign.
  7. Click OK.

Your updated music will now have the album cover when you sync to your iOS devices. This process is time consuming, since there is no batch processing. It’s a manual process that requires you go one by one. If you have incorrect artwork, you can drop in the correct image to fix your artwork.

Google find artwork

Mac users can add a bit more automation to this process using scripts. One of the original gold mines for those looking to manage their iTunes libraries has been Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes. Download the free script (Doug does accept donations), Find Album Artwork with Google. Drag the resulting downloaded script to the Scripts folder which can be found at User > Library > iTunes > Scripts. If the folder does not exist, go to Finder > Create New Folder and title it Scripts.

Mountain Lion Tip: Apple hides the library folder. To reveal it, follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal (located in the Utilities folder).
  2. Type sudo chflags nohidden ~/Library
  3. Enter your administrator password.

Magic, the library folder should now appear. You can no proceed with the steps outlined above.

You may need to close and re-open iTunes. When you do, you should see a Script Menu with the option to Find Album Artwork with Google. The steps are similar, but there is no need to copy & paste into a search bar. Simply select the album and run the script.

Script to fix art

When you rip a CD or download from a different source, your music can have the incorrect tags. This is one of the primary reasons why iTunes fails to get artwork. There are third party applications that can clean up your tags, while at the same time offering you options to update your artwork. Third party applications including Tagalicious are able to use audio analysis to find the correct tags using audio analysis. While it’s correcting the tags, it will also offer an option to update artwork. Tagalicious retails for $14.99 direct from their site or $9.99 in the Mac App Store.

Whichever device you use to playback your music, features like Cover Flow will looking so much better with an iTunes library that features album artwork. Using this guide, you can easily remove those unsightly and downright depressing grey boxes. Investing time into your library is a one time commitment. Devices will continue to improve, with more pixels and bigger displays. Artwork is just one of many ways to improve your iTunes library and bring further enjoyment to your music.