Since album art practically defines music (e.g., Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures,' Nirvana's 'Nevermind', even Britney Spears's 'Britney'), no collection is complete with covers in disarray. Artwork is a key component to any obsessively organized music library, and the latest version of iTunes makes it a breeze to sort and add art. While most downloads from the iTunes Store come with artwork, you'll know that any time spent ripping CDs, transferring vinyl or downloading tracks from the Web will fill a library with shoddy and incomplete graphics. Read on to get your lovely library looking top-notch, and wow your friends with a complete Cover Flow.
Getting Started: How to Add Artwork
There are several ways to get images into iTunes, but the most basic involves selecting a track and manually adding it. Once you've single-clicked a track (or tracks) in any iTunes playlist, you've got three ways to do this: 1) navigate to File > Get Info
; 2) right-click and select Get Info;
and 3) tap Apple + i
on a Mac, or CTRL + i
on a PC. To add the image, drag or paste the artwork you've found to the 'Artwork' box. Make sure you double-check your selections; you don't want to accidentally apply the wrong artwork across multiple albums.
The first semi-automated, extremely powerful image-finding process is built directly into iTunes. Simply right-click any song and select Get Album Artwork
. (This will work with any track you've got, not just purchases from the store.) If available, the art will be downloaded and applied, and you can speed up the process by selecting multiple songs (even your entire Library). It may take a few minutes, but iTunes will display the processing status. Once complete, a window will pop up showing you the albums that couldn't be found.
If your music is impeccably tagged and organized, this trick will quickly cover most of your unillustrated tracks. If you've got a deep collection of obscure albums, EPs, foreign pressings or vinyl rips, you're probably still missing a lot of artwork.
Filter Your Artless Tunes in Seconds
Clearly, adding artwork to your entire library could take a while, and simply finding the albums lacking artwork could take hours of sorting. Fortunately, iTunes 10 introduced a powerful new filter criteria for album artwork, so finding all of your unillustrated albums can be done in a few seconds. Create a smart playlist
(File > New Smart Playlist
) that searches for 'has artwork' and 'is false.' Rename this playlist 'No artwork' or something easy to find, and click to view all your songs without artwork.
Moving on from iTunes
Grab your drink of choice (we recommend something strong), and dig in; you'll need to manually add album artwork for these stragglers. For high-res art, start with Google Image Search, and set the search filter to large. Ideally, you're looking for images that are at least 500x500 pixels. (You can check in the image info.) Wikipedia often offers decent images for popular albums, and some smart googling can help you track down the harder-to-find covers. Automated third-party tools like GimmeSomeTune
and Artwork Gofer
will reach outside of the Apple ecosystem to Amazon, Google Images and other services to track down more obscure artwork. Yes, it's probably best to get in the habit of double-checking artwork whenever you add a new album, but these tools and tricks will help any library that's gotten out of aesthetic hand.
More iTunes Tips