"Syncing" iTunes Cover Art with Picard

I ripped an extensive CD collection (to mp3 files) into one individual folder for each album. I then added all the folders to the iTunes library. iTunes was able to find the cover art for some of the albums but the majority are blank and some are incorrect. I added some of the missing cover art that I was able to find to the albums in iTunes. I then started scanning each folder with Musicbrainz Picard and added any missing or corrected cover art to the album/songs in the right pane and saved it (using “Replace front cover art”) .

The problems are:

  • The cover art I have added in Picard does not appear in iTunes.
  • The cover art I have added in iTunes does not appear in Picard
  • The incorrect iTunes cover art still appears in iTunes even after I have corrected and saved it in Picard.

Can anyone explain why this is happening and instruct me how to get the correct artwork synced between the two programs?


some times iTunes is not a fan of cover art nor douse it like it when you change something from out side iTunes first thing to try is hit play on the songs and that will make iTunes check the song info and update it in iTunes. something else you can do if that is not the problem is load an album or song in to Picard and see if the image is the one from it or the one from before you saved it. and make shure you are imbedding it and not saving it as a file. give all that a go first. if you need more in-depth help with any step just ask :slight_smile:

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Picard saves cover art either in the folder alongside the music files, or can optionally embed the artwork. This is a fairly standard way so that most players can find it. You’ll probably need to embed it for iTunes.

Your problem comes from iTunes storing art in a completely separate database away from the music files. Apple, as usual, ignoring standards. This is why Picard can’t see the iTunes art. And neither will any other application apart from iTunes.

You don’t say which OS you are running on. There are scripts out there that will pull all that Apple artwork out and then embed it into the files.

As to getting iTunes to re-read the artwork. @st3v3p’s method of “hit play” is a nice simple one. I guess that forcing iTunes to rescan the folder may also work.

As you can guess, I don’t have iTunes. Just have to solve the puzzles on it for some of my clients. I see iTunes just as a shop front as there are better media players out there that don’t give you these kinds of issues.


In my experience with writing software that interfaces with iTunes (or Music as it called now), if the cover art is not manually inserted, or pasted, into the track the artwork is being pulled from iTunes and stored separately from the track and not being imbedded. If you actually paste or add a cover art image to the track, iTunes will embed it into the MP3. I assume this may be due to licensing? As far as I can tell, if you have cover art in a separate file, iTunes does not see it. At least this has been my experience.


Thank you @IvanDobsky. FYI I use both Mac and Windows but I have been doing my editing using the Windows versions of Picard and iTunes. Your answer prompted me to try some other experiments and as far as I can make out:

  • When iTunes does not find any artwork in the music file it does its own search and, if it finds a match, it uses that art and stores it along with the song/album in its database. Regrettably that artwork is not always the correct cover art for that song/album - sometimes it bears no relation at all.
  • I think that you are correct that iTunes stores the artwork in its own database so that is why when I use Picard it cannot find the art that iTunes used.
  • When using Picard I have been embedding the artwork in the music file.
  • If iTunes finds embedded artwork when it imports a music file into its library it will the use that artwork UNLESS it has already found other artwork that it has already stored in its database.

Unfortunately the script does not help me since it is Mac based. However, thanks to your help I have now managed to create a workflow that works for me.

One more thing - I am not wedded to using iTunes. What player would you recommend that can be used across Windows, MacOS and iPhone?


Thanks @st3v3p and also thank you for the other answers you have given it other posts that have helped me figure this out. If you see my reply to @IvanDobsky you will see how I have concluded this can be done. If you have any other opinions or see that I have missed the mark, I would appreciate your feedback.


Foobar2000 is lovely, and is on Mac and has an App I believe?

That said if you’re not using iTunes you also don’t need to use the same player across your devices :slight_smile:

I stream my whole collection from my HDD to my phone using Plex these days.

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Thanks @aerozol. I keep on running across Foobar2000 so I guess I should try it. But I don’t understand your Plex comment. I use Plex to stream videos from my NAS to my Roku on my TV. I don’t understand how I can stream to a phone if I am not within reach of my WiFi network?

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(If it’s still the same) there is a very affordable one-off app purchase fee to enable streaming of your Plex Libraries to your phone, just like you do on the TV :slight_smile:

I was very impressed with how Plex dealt with my large music collection… decent audiobook support too!

edit: this obviously uses phone data if not on wifi!

Give Foobar2k a try, It can take a minute to get the layout how you want it, but it’s very fast and isn’t really lacking much.

I’ve heard other people suggest MusicBee too.

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Thanks @hugh.jorgan. I think your assessment is correct.

Thanks @aerozol. I will experiment with all of these! :grinning:

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you should be able to turn the auto look up of album art work off. on MAC OS11 it is under preferences / advanced. you may won’t to turn it off if you use another program and you still have iTunes looking at the folder you music is in in case you accidentally open it.

Thank you @st3v3p you have been even more helpful. I have finally unraveled the mystery. I checked my iTunes preferences and found that “Automatically download artwork” (in Windows version) was turned off! This mystified me because it seemed to be downloading some of the artwork but not others. I then figured out what is happening.

When I ripped my collection it was several years ago. I cannot even remember how I ripped it since I had a system crash and never reinstalled the ripping program. There was not such a good database(s) of cover art back then, so only a few of the albums got the artwork embedded in the files. Those were the only files which iTunes recognized as containing artwork which it loaded when I imported them. I then asked iTunes to fetch the artwork for a few of the albums which is why I saw some of the other problems which I posted above.

At any rate, the workflow I have developed for Picard is working well for me now although I do feel a need to re-rip some of the albums to get better quality. Is there a ripping program you recommend?


depends on what your trying to rip from im guessing cd for cds if you wont something barebones (ie very basic) iTunes is fine, but if you won’t something better we in to know what os you are going to rip on im guessing windows unless you have an older mac, if that is the case i dont know but this may get you started https://www.techradar.com/au/best/cd-ripper if you trying to do it with tapes or records thats a hole different story

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Music programs are very personal choices. I have often heard loads of good about Foobar2000. I used to be a Winamp man, but now run a KODI server. Like PLEX it lets me push the music around the house. Works really well with MusicBrainz data if tagged properly through Picard.

I then use the Yatse app on my mobile to both act as a remote control for my media player in the house, and as a good stand alone app on the phone to play tracks copied to the phone when out of the house. Yatse works with both KODI and PLEX.

If you are already using PLEX for video, it certainly sounds like an option to look closer at for something more flexible. You don’t realise how limited iTunes is until you start stepping out of that Apple world :wink:

Ripping? As @st3v3p’s list shows, you can’t beat EAC but then you get FLAC which will upset iTunes as it can’t play it.

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