How To: Add Album Artwork to Files in iTunes

iTunes is nothing more than a database. It doesn’t store your digital media files; it only contains pointers to them. And, like a database, it can be pretty boring, unless you spice it up with album artwork.

There are a number of ways you can add artwork to files; and not just music files. You can add album artwork to almost any files in your iTunes library. (One notable exception is audiobooks purchased from Audible.com.) Here’s how you can do this.

The easiest way to add album artwork to your files (this only works for music files), is to check the iTunes Store for album artwork. Select one or more tracks, right-click, and then choose Get Album Artwork. If the artwork is available in the iTunes Store, iTunes will download the artwork.

Download artwork

Note that this only works for music you’ve bought from the iTunes Store (which should have artwork already), or CDs you’ve ripped using iTunes.

If you can’t find artwork on the iTunes Store, or if you want to add artwork to files other than music files, there are three ways you can do this. First, find the artwork you want to add. The easiest way is to do a Google search for the artist and album, or movie, or TV show. Find a good-sized graphic, but not too large; large graphics take up a lot of space. This isn’t a big worry on a computer, but it is when you sync media files to an iOS device.

Select one or more files and press Command-I (Control-I on Windows).

  1. Drag a graphic to the artwork well at the top-left of the window.

Info window

  1. Click the Artwork tab, and drag a graphic to the bottom of the window; or paste a graphic that you’ve copied with that pane visible.

Info window2

  1. Click the Artwork tab, and then click Add Artwork at the bottom of the window. Navigate to a graphic, select it, and then click Open.

There is one other way you can add album artwork to a single track. You can only do this while a track is playing. As such, you won’t want to do this for full albums, but, perhaps, as you’re listening to music and spot that songs don’t have artwork, you can use this technique.

After you’ve found the artwork, you can simply drag it onto the iTunes LCD; that’s the part of the iTunes window that shows what track is playing.

Drag album artwork

With these techniques, and a bit of digital legwork, you can make your iTunes library a lot more attractive.

22 thoughts on “How To: Add Album Artwork to Files in iTunes

  1. Hi again. Am I right that the select tracks>right click/control click method only works for tracks or albums purchased through the iTunes Store? Same with the Library>Get album artwork command? What happens when I drop artwork from the web into the artwork well and then want to get it from iTunes? I tried your method to replace poor quality web downloaded artwork and it didn’t work. Yep, the album is in the store but won’t download the better quality artwork and replace the old image. I could be misunderstanding what your saying.
    Thanks for your tips.

    • No, it may, however, only work for music that you’ve ripped in iTunes. When you rip a CD, iTunes stores an album ID that allows you to look up tracks; I think that also applies to searching for artwork. I’ll add a note about that in the article.

  2. Hi again. Am I right that the select tracks>right click/control click method only works for tracks or albums purchased through the iTunes Store? Same with the Library>Get album artwork command? What happens when I drop artwork from the web into the artwork well and then want to get it from iTunes? I tried your method to replace poor quality web downloaded artwork and it didn’t work. Yep, the album is in the store but won’t download the better quality artwork and replace the old image. I could be misunderstanding what your saying.
    Thanks for your tips.

    • No, it may, however, only work for music that you’ve ripped in iTunes. When you rip a CD, iTunes stores an album ID that allows you to look up tracks; I think that also applies to searching for artwork. I’ll add a note about that in the article.

  3. Hint: when you rip CDs and iTunes doesn’t find the Artwork, check the album name. It needs to be *exactly* the same as in the iTunes Store. When ripping, the album name comes from CDDB, and can be different compared to the iTunes store. This is often the case for Special Editions and Multi-CD Albums (CDDB reports back “Album Name Disc 1” whereas in the iTunes Store it’s listed as “Album Name”).

  4. Hint: when you rip CDs and iTunes doesn’t find the Artwork, check the album name. It needs to be *exactly* the same as in the iTunes Store. When ripping, the album name comes from CDDB, and can be different compared to the iTunes store. This is often the case for Special Editions and Multi-CD Albums (CDDB reports back “Album Name Disc 1” whereas in the iTunes Store it’s listed as “Album Name”).

  5. It’s also worth noting that iTunes 12 still apparently upscales artwork to PNG if it’s dragged directly from a webpage into the artwork well. Seemingly, if you first drag the image from the web to the desktop and THEN to the iTunes artwork well, it will remain in its native format (likely JPEG). This has been the case since sometime around version 10. I have no idea why this behaviour started, but it can be a huge space liability if you have a large library.

  6. It’s also worth noting that iTunes 12 still apparently upscales artwork to PNG if it’s dragged directly from a webpage into the artwork well. Seemingly, if you first drag the image from the web to the desktop and THEN to the iTunes artwork well, it will remain in its native format (likely JPEG). This has been the case since sometime around version 10. I have no idea why this behaviour started, but it can be a huge space liability if you have a large library.

  7. Nice How to Kirk. My problem is that when I correct “incorrect artwork” for whole albums as above & then update “iTunes Match” in iTunes, it replaces all of the correct artwork that I have painstakingly added with the incorrect artwork that Apple has on their server for these tracks in my iTunes Match library (presumably due to a mistake I made some months ago when I tried to correct the artwork for one album and accidentally changed the artwork for multiple albums). Is there any way to “override” the artwork that Apple has on its server for a library, other than deleting the albums in question (with the incorrect artwork) and uploading the corrected albums (i.e. re-matching)? Thanks for your help!

    • For it to work correctly you need to delete and re upload with the new artwork. You shouldn’t have to but Match isn’t reliable with artwork.

      • OK- thank you. So, is there an easy way to delete the albums in question from my iTunes Match library/iCloud while KEEPING the same albums on my computer, without moving them out of the iTunes library? Thanks again!

  8. Nice How to Kirk. My problem is that when I correct “incorrect artwork” for whole albums as above & then update “iTunes Match” in iTunes, it replaces all of the correct artwork that I have painstakingly added with the incorrect artwork that Apple has on their server for these tracks in my iTunes Match library (presumably due to a mistake I made some months ago when I tried to correct the artwork for one album and accidentally changed the artwork for multiple albums). Is there any way to “override” the artwork that Apple has on its server for a library, other than deleting the albums in question (with the incorrect artwork) and uploading the corrected albums (i.e. re-matching)? Thanks for your help!

    • For it to work correctly you need to delete and re upload with the new artwork. You shouldn’t have to but Match isn’t reliable with artwork.

      • OK- thank you. So, is there an easy way to delete the albums in question from my iTunes Match library/iCloud while KEEPING the same albums on my computer, without moving them out of the iTunes library? Thanks again!

  9. Hi there, on some songs in my library, the ‘Add Artwork’ button is faded out and I cannot select it, neither can I do the usual drag from google to itunes technique on these songs. this is regardless of whether the file is .mp3 or .wav, btw. Why may this be the case, and how to get around this?

    • Hi ! I have the same problem as 2chainz.
      My file was a wav that I’ve converted to M4A, but the problem is the same.
      Anyone with an idea of the solution ?

  10. Hi there, on some songs in my library, the ‘Add Artwork’ button is faded out and I cannot select it, neither can I do the usual drag from google to itunes technique on these songs. this is regardless of whether the file is .mp3 or .wav, btw. Why may this be the case, and how to get around this?

    • Hi ! I have the same problem as 2chainz.
      My file was a wav that I’ve converted to M4A, but the problem is the same.
      Anyone with an idea of the solution ?

  11. All I know is this – yesterday I had zero issues adding artwork. Today I cannot add ANY artwork regardless of files, including artwork I added to other files yesterday. I downloaded the new iTunes – no avail. I miss the days when you could just copy and paste. Downloading artwork takes ages and I like good quality art but now to not be able to add ANY artwork is complete and utter BS.

  12. All I know is this – yesterday I had zero issues adding artwork. Today I cannot add ANY artwork regardless of files, including artwork I added to other files yesterday. I downloaded the new iTunes – no avail. I miss the days when you could just copy and paste. Downloading artwork takes ages and I like good quality art but now to not be able to add ANY artwork is complete and utter BS.

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