Where the Catalina Music App Stores Album Artwork

When I updated my iMac to Catalina yesterday, I watched as the Music app slowly display album artwork. I have about 4,000 albums in my library – this is all local music, I don’t use Cloud Music Library on this Mac – and it took a couple of hours for the Music app to go through all the files and display the artwork.

But I couldn’t find where it was stored. In the past, there was an Album Artwork folder in the /Music/iTunes folder in the home folder. While that folder is still there – and isn’t needed any more – artwork is now stored in a different location.

But I couldn’t find it at first. I was looking for a folder around the same size; my Album Artwork folder was always around 4-5 GB. The new path for artwork is:

~/Library/Containers/com.apple.APMArtworkAgent/Data/Documents

For me, this folder is less than 1 GB, which is why I couldn’t find it previously. Interestingly, this folder no longer contains files with the extension .itc, which only a few apps could read, but the files are now the original .png or .jpg files that I added to my music files (or that came with purchases from the iTunes Store).


Learn more about the new media apps that replace iTunes in macOS Catalina in my new book, Take Control of macOS Media Apps.

23 thoughts on “Where the Catalina Music App Stores Album Artwork

  1. If your artwork completely loaded after only a couple hours consider yourself lucky. I have a similar size library and it’s been 2 days of non-stop “loading artwork…” and not even half my artwork is restored. During this time the system runs out of memory (I have an iMac with 16GB) every couple hours, and there are constant lags, spinning beachballs and apps requiring force quits. All this for a dumbed down and difficult to navigate version of iTunes. This is the first Apple OS upgrade in 20+ years I regret installing.

    • I finally got my album artwork exactly right in Sierra and feel I might not much to gain by going with Catalina. I’m a low-tech senior, don’t have a smartphone, but my iPod Touch and iMac iTunes Library are exactly in synch and work perfectly. Since I doubt I’d use any of the features on Catalina, and I’m still buying songs from the iTunes Store (which will still stay) I’m a bit reluctant to mess with something that could make my artwork screwy. It took me awhile but I finally found out how to keep Apple from putting their artwork on my library when I synch my iPod…simply put iPod in Airplane Mode and cut off my WiFi while synching, so I’ve had perfect artwork now. I guess if I get a new iMac in the future, I’ll have to give this OS up. Thanks for your info, David.

  2. Glad to know the above artwork path for Music. Thank you.

    I’d like to ask about Movie artwork (in my downloaded Library & purchased via iTunes). I previous downloaded artwork from Ben Dodson’s site (600×600 jpegs). I locally stream my media Library through Home Sharing to my ATV4K, over a 1GB LAN, and I liked how Dodson’s movie artwork displayed.

    Given the new TV app (Catalina & on ATV4K) and how movie artwork is now displayed, which is awful – particularly via the Computer app on ATV4K, I have seen one particular title’s artwork fills the legacy vertical artwork “space” fully on the ATV4K’s TV app. All other titles mostly use Apple’s artwork, which only fills the artwork space centrally & horizontally in the artwork space; this artwork doesn’t show optimally.

    Is there a way to adjust how movie artwork displays in these new, TV apps?

  3. Good article. About 20% of my artwork disappeared from my music, film and tv content once I upgraded to Catalina. Will have to sort that out some day.

  4. Well, I found that folder, it’s got tonnes of images in it, and yet Music doesn’t display any album art at all. The Activity Window has been stuck Loading artwork… for days, Music is hogging 200% of the CPU and over 23GB of memory (I only have 8GB of RAM) making my 2012 Mini unusable. I might just run Get Album Artwork on my Library and start from scratch.

  5. Maybe it will take a few updates for Catalina to smooth that out. I personally have always found the artwork thing in iTunes to be the weakest part of it. I think Gracenote is good by itself, not sure just how it interfaces with Apple’s music library. I find the wrong image displayed many times. Then I find the correct one on the internet, copy that, and import it into the Get Info pane. Music may need a few more stages to finally get it right.

  6. Thanks for the info, it was really helpful as the old method of copying and pasting from the iTunes program itself isn’t working anymore since the Catalina update. Also, I think the original post may contain a typo:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.APMArtworkAgent/Data/Documents

    should be:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.AMPArtworkAgent/Data/Documents

    • I’ve heard this from a couple of people. There’s a cache folder, which isn’t very large, that seems to store things in a database. I haven’t tried, but deleting the artwork folder then relaunching Music should tell it to reread all your artwork. This is how it worked with iTunes. (Back up the folder before deleting it, just in case.)

  7. MacBook Pro 2018 just upgraded to Catalina

    I normally maintain at least five music libraries. When I discovered that the Music App seems to handle just about everything differently than the former iTunes and since I have all my music tracks backed up with embedded album art I decided this would be a great time to just start over instead of migrating. I figured that this would clean out all the garbage from the old libraries. So I created four new libraries for my local music, imported the appropriate albums and everything seems to work fine. The tracks in these libraries are stored locally and the artwork remains embedded in the music file. I am disappointed that the column browser is not available and the album art will not display in the songs view. I knew there had to be art stored somewhere but until reading this article I did not know where. Still working on getting my Doug’s Applescripts so they will work with the new Music App.

    The last Library I created was for my former iTunes Match Library which is for my favorite music from the 4 local libraries that I want to be able to play on all my devices and for which I do not keep any tracks stored locally. So I created a final library and set it to sync with my Apple ID and in about three seconds all of my cloud files and playlists showed up and all of the album art was available almost instantly in album view for over 2000 albums with over 32,000 tracks. I have not as yet added any new music to this library.

    I have observed that when I open this match library instead of seeing all my tracks greyed out for a few seconds right away it seems to connect to the cloud and then everything appears in a couple of seconds ready to use. Also when I download a track it contains no embedded artwork ( I Uploaded all my tracks with embedded artwork). This is became evident if I play the track in VLC or Mac Preview. However the artwork displays when it is played in the Music App and all of the art is there in Album View. My master copies of all of my music are backed up on separate external drives that are not normally connected to my Mac and I completely trashed ( and emptied the trash) for all of my old libraries before I created the new ones so nothing would be around to mess things up.

    I am trying to figure out why a lot of you are having such long waits for album art while my Match Art appeared instantly. Could the reason be that I completely removed all of my old libraries and art or is it possible that when I upgraded to Catalina that the upgrade copied all of my local art to the new folders???

  8. Pre Thanksgiving!: Hi Community and Kirk (who helped me so much years ago).
    My simple question, suffering the same lack of display artwork is: If we HAVE the music (now in the Music media folder – No apple music subscriptions – plays fine), and we HAVE all the artwork (over 1700 from iTunes days, ready, willing and waiting, in ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.AMPArtworkAgent/Data/Documents) (and I guess it is in the old disused iTunes folders too), and we do have tiny thumbnails in “get info”……how do we nudge the new Music App to go find and display it? Some connect is missing where the App doesn’t go to the Container files and display art which is there for it. I don’t suffer any of the CPU usage issues as others. We simply have all the parts, but not the whole……hmmmmmmm. If anyone has anyone ideas, would be grateful. Kirk lightly mentions one scary theory: delete the artwork folder and it might reconnect…..but do we really know that Catalina will go back to the old iTunes folder, refashion the AMPArtwork folder again and be OK?

  9. I’m having a nightmare with my artwork! I store my iTunes on an external drive and the album artwork. I’ve moved over to Catalina and its not loading any of the artwork. is there a way I can force it read my original artwork folder? Can I place this folder in ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.AMPArtworkAgent/Data/Documents ? if it let the music app try to find the album artwork, it does it okay but loses 180 album covers which will take me ages to fix 🙁

    First time in 10 years I’ve regretted upgrading to a new OS.

  10. Hi Kirk, I’m fairly sure I’ve messed up my iTunes library in a unique way.

    When I first moved to Catalina I consolidated my music only onto a new external hard drive and it worked fine and all artwork and playlists were working correctly etc.

    I then did a fresh install of Catalina and opened up music via the external and all the artwork has gone.

    I’m guessing the artwork files were stored on the local drive instead of the external like it used to do. I do have a copy of my artwork files from Mojave but I Just can’t seem to force it read it.

    Itunes has found artwork for most albums but I’m missing 180 covers which is looking like I’m going to have to do manually unless you have any ideas? The irony is the amount of time I’ve spent searching for the answer it would of been quicker to manually add them back haha

    • There have been a lot of issues with artwork. In my case, it took several days after updating to Catalina for all the artwork to display. I don’t think I have to manually add anything, but when I moved files from my iMac to my MacBook Pro, many of them didn’t display artwork, and I did have to add it manually to those.

  11. Is there an album art viewer in the Music app? I’d like to store album liner notes as additional album art, but I can’t find a way to scroll through the art work for an album when there is more than one image file. Am I missing something?

    • That hasn’t been available for years. I haven’t tested, but you used to be able to add multiple graphics in the artwork pane, in the Info window, and view them from there. I’m not at my Mac right now, but see if that still works.

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