You can use Cover Flow in iTunes to scroll through your songs and albums, and iOS devices allow you to flick through your music in Cover Flow view with your fingertip. But to make it all work, you need to have accurate and attractive album art.
Find Album Art
To hunt down album art for tracks you’ve copied yourself, you can use one of the following methods. The easiest is to have iTunes do it for you (you’ll need to set up an iTunes Store account). As you copy a CD, you can set the program to check the iTunes Store for album art. To do this, select Automatically Download Missing Album Artwork in the Store pane of iTunes’ preferences. After you’ve ripped an album, iTunes will connect to the store and, if it finds the artwork, download and add it to your library. Unfortunately, this only works if the store sells the album.
If iTunes can’t find the artwork for an album that you know it sells, check how the album is listed in the store, correct your metadata tags, select the tracks in iTunes, Control-click (or right-click) on them, and choose Get Album Art. iTunes will then check the store again.
To help you find all the tracks in your library that are missing art, Doug Adams’ Tracks Without Artwork to Playlist 3.3 (macworld.com/3342) AppleScript can create a playlist of these.
If iTunes can’t provide the album art, you can always copy graphics from websites. A good place to start is Amazon, which provides cover art for most of the albums it sells. Both CD Universe and eMusic also have extensive cover art libraries, or you could do a Google image search.
To help you find all the tracks in your library that are missing art, Doug Adams’s Tracks Without Artwork to Playlist 3.3 (payment requested; www.dougscripts.com) AppleScript can create a playlist of these tracks.
If iTunes can’t provide the album art you want, the best way to add it is to copy the graphics you want from websites. A good place to go is Amazon.co.uk, which has cover graphics for most of the albums it sells. CD Universe (www.cduniverse.com) has large graphics at 450 x 450 pixels, with no white borders. And if you’re a member of eMusic (www.emusic.com), you can get album art there at 600 x 600 pixels. And you can do a Google image search (images.google.com) and narrow down the results by image size.
Some apps can ease the art- searching process, including Equinux’s CoverScout 3 (£20.99, Mac App Store), TuneUp Media’s $19.95-a-year TuneUp Cover Art (also available as a $29.95 Lifetime single-computer licence; www.tuneupmedia.com).
Add Artwork to Your Files
For single files, the easiest way to add artwork is to select a file in iTunes, press Command-I, and click on the Artwork tab. Either drag the image into the artwork box, or paste a file that you have copied from a web page, for example.
For multiple files, select the ones you want to add album art to and press Command-I. You’ll see the Multiple Item Information window. Drag or paste art into the Artwork box, and click on OK to save it.
When you download album art from the iTunes Store, iTunes doesn’t add the graphics to your files; instead, it puts them in a central folder on your computer. This means if you copy a track to another machine, it won’t have the artwork. To get around this, select a track and press Command-I. Click on the Artwork tab, click the album art to select it, and then copy it. Close the Info window, select all the tracks of the album, and paste the copied image. This embeds the art in the files, rather than keeping them separate.