Monthly Archives: January 2012

iTunes match – making album artwork play ball…

I’m not sure how many people are as anal as me about their iTunes libraries – in particular, there is something that quakes me to my very core if I know some tracks don’t have album artwork.  Using my iPhone in the car as a music player I’ve been known to pull over to make a note of errant tracks to fix when I get home.  Probably a bit of OCD or something, who knows?

So imagine my horror when my painstakingly constructed library, once gone through iTunes Match (see earlier post for this particular pain!) arbitrarily seemed to select random albums for which it wouldn’t display the artwork on my iPad or iPhone – despite there clearly being artwork present in iTunes.  It didn’t seem to matter whether they were Matched or Uploaded tracks – and by god it was infuriating me.

It turns out it’s quite easy to fix – iTunes Match seems to play not-nicely with tracks where you’ve downloaded the Artwork.  Which probably demands a further explanation – your artwork is either stored locally on your computer when iTunes downloads it (you know, that hugely tempting ‘Get Artwork’ option that absolves you of responsibility?), or, your artwork can be embedded within your MP3/AAC/MP4/AIFF files – the benefit of which being the artwork goes with the file outside of iTunes.

During a traditional sync with an iOS device your artwork is synced to, irrespective of whether it’s embedded in the file or stored locally and indexed in iTunes.  So I never really gave it much thought, if I could get iTunes to do the hard work and find all my artwork for me then all the better.  This isn’t the case for iTunes Match – every missing album artwork issue was with those where artwork was downloaded rather than embedded.  I couldn’t say whether or not every downloaded piece of artwork failed – however – as there’s no obvious way to differentiate between the two without a lot of hassle.

However, if you have a few albums missing artwork then select a track – copy the artwork to your clipboard, select the whole album, option-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) and select ‘Clear Downloaded Artwork’ – you’ll see the preview pane revert to the dreaded no-artwork icon.  Now option-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) over the artwork preview pane and choose ‘Paste’ – this will embed the artwork in the music files you have selected.

If you’ve got loads, and have a Mac, then check out this AppleScript – it will move through your library for you and for those tracks where the artwork is not embedded – it will go through the process for you.  I struggled to make it work on my whole library but it seems to work well on smaller selections.

Don’t expect an instant update on your iOS devices either – it seems to take an arbitrary amount of time for the changes to catch up through iCloud and make everything appear as it should.  Having just gone through the pain-in-the-arse process of scrolling through my iPad’s album view in the Music app to find the problem albums, I think I’ve finally sorted mine out.  It won’t make any tangible difference to how everything works, but it will at least momentarily silence the OCD demons that had been irked by this.

I now have the uncomfortable wait until that blessed moment when I tap on a music-symbol album and out again, to be greeted by the correct artwork being downloaded!

If anyone knows why the Artist view on iPad arbitrarily seems to not display artwork for some artists (even if they have only one album in your library) and will for others (who may have multiple albums or just one), then I’d be very interested to learn of any fixes!  I suspect it’s just something that might get addressed in the next iOS and/or iTunes updates.  Ho hum!

Categories: blog, iPhone / iPad / Mac | 12 Comments

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