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Fixing Vanishing Artwork in iTunes 10.2 Update


When we updated our Macs to iTunes 10.2 a few days ago, we noticed that our album artwork seemed to have vanished for a number of our albums when browsing with Alfred's iTunes Mini Player.

After some head scratching and a dig around, it appears that iTunes has changed the way it references album artwork. Whereas iTunes previously allowed Alfred to see referenced artwork files, it now only allows artwork embedded within the file to be used. This explains why a part of my music collection appeared to have lost its artwork.

Thankfully, it's fairly straightforward to add the artwork to every track of an album:

  • Open iTunes and pop up the artwork preview pane below the iTunes playlists column on the left
  • For every album where the artwork vanished, first drag the artwork to your desktop
  • Select all tracks from the album in iTunes and "Get info"
  • Drop the artwork from your desktop into the artwork information field. iTunes will then embed the artwork rather than reference it in the iTunes database

How can you tell whether the artwork is embedded or not? The easiest way is to drill into your iTunes music folder using Finder and look at the files in grid/icon view. If the artwork has been embedded into a file using an ID3 tagger or other method, the artwork should show up. If the artwork is referenced the file will have a missing artwork icon, but if you look at the file in iTunes you will see the artwork there.

Can you help?

It's an easy fix, but one that can be somewhat time consuming for those with large music collections. If anyone has discovered an alternative fix, we'd love to hear it!

A huge thanks to Brian Van Peski for his email about iTunes artwork which put us on the right track to identifying this issue.

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