Update Cover Art Only

Hello, I’m hoping this is a simple question and is just something I’m overlooking. I’ve spend a bit searching thru the forums today, but haven’t been able to find an answer. I’ve been in the process of updating the metadata on my Music Library for a while. I’ve gone thru and cleared out fields I didn’t want (I’m only using Title, Artist, Album, Year and Genre). Then I worked thru each field to make sure all the same artists were spelled the same and that their albums, year and genre were correct.

I’m now at the point of adding / updating Cover Art. I started alphabetically going thru the “A’s” manually and searching for (pretty much Googling or searching on discogs), downloading and adding Cover Art. But with 12,000+ songs I’m looking for a quicker way to go about this.

Today I tried using MusicBrainz Picard for the first time. I selected “Add Songs” and pulled a couple songs in. I was able to select “Lookup” and it found the 2 songs. But selecting “Save” updates all the metadata for those songs. So those songs now have a Track, Album Artist and Discnumber added to them along with the Album Art. So, is there a way to use MusicBrainz to only add the Album Art?? I did see under Options, Tags I could uncheck “Write Tags to Files”, but that seems to not save anything, including the Album Art.

Thanks in advance for any help with this.

i dont think you can just download album art only with Picard as it is not a program based around cover art it is more based around updating metadata. iTunes can do it kind of and tune sweeper can there may be other programs that can as well


Ok, I figured the Album Art was just included in as a piece of the other different metadata on a file. And because it did update the Album Art along with the Album Artist, Track, etc I thought maybe there was a way to “unselect” a bunch of things and have it only save the Album Art to the track.

I’ll keep looking into this to see if there’s an easier way to get just the album art added.

Else you can abuse the system:

  • Copy your collection
  • Choose in the Picard options to copy covers in separate files
  • Tag all your collection with Picard
    You will need to copy paste all covers to your back up collection folder at the end but still quicker than looking on google

As said before updating tags with metadata from MusicBrainz is kind of the core functionality, with cover art more being something thought of as additional to that.

You have some options though:

  • If you don’t want to embed the cover art in the file tags but instead save it as separate file you can disable saving tags entirely.
  • You can add tags to the “Preserve these tags” list in Options > Metadata. Picard will still write to this tag if they don’t exist, bit will not change existing tags.
  • You can add a script and use $unset(tag name) on tags you do not want to be filled at all.

As always I suggest that you save the MusicBrainz identifiers anyway, as they mean you need to do the matching of your files to the proper MusicBrainz releases only once.

And of course try your settings first on a copy of few of your files before going en masse.


I believe the program Album Art Downloader has MusicBrainz as one of its sources, for what it’s worth.

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I would have thought there’d be a list of all the tags with the unset code somewhere/that someone here might have one. That would do the trick I’d think?

Ok, definitely gives me some options.

I looked at Tune Sweeper and Album Art Downloader a bit. It seems that Album Art Downloader is closer to what I’m looking for. Looks like I can configure it to only search for cover art and then select where it’s saved. After thinking about it a bit, I also like that it doesn’t automatically save the cover to the file. That way I can edit it a bit before it’s transferred over, if I need to. I’ll give it a try on smaller groups of songs to see how it goes. Also I do have a portion of my music that has the Album Art, so I can go thru and select just those songs needing it.

Just trying to speed this process up a bit, while also making it as simple as possible.

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