With the release of iTunes 4 and the integrated iTunes Music Store (iTMS) Apple has added the ability to view album artwork. Every song that you purchase comes with the album artwork for the album that it comes from. This is great for newly purchased music, but what about CD’s that you’ve ripped? Or music that you’ve downloaded (legally, of course) off of the internet? I’ll show you how to find the album art for all of your music.

Initially, I solved this problem by searching google for the artist name or album title. This works, but can become tedious.
The solution to this problem presented itself as I was flipping through the latest issue of MacHome at the local Books-A-Million. The answer is - Clutter.

Clutter is an awesome freeeware app by Sprote Research. Clutter’s intended use is to lookup the album art of any currently playing song in iTunes for use on the desktop. It quickly searches Amazon.com for the artist and album info and displays the artwork in a small window which you can then drag the image from, onto your desktop. That use, in and of itself didn’t excite me…until I started thinking about the possibilities.

With a few mouse clicks (or keystrokes) you can use Clutter to add album art to all of your music.

The first step is to open iTunes 4 and Clutter. Once both are open, simply click on the song that you want to get album art for in iTunes. In the image below you can see that I have selected a song by Beck. That song is then displayed in Clutter, which looks up the artist / album information.

Once Clutter finds the album information, it downloads the artwork, which is displayed in both the Clutter application and in the Clutter Dock icon. If you would prefer to see the Clutter icon in the dock as opposed to the album art, you can that off in the preferences.

To use this artwork you must first copy the image. Make sure you are in the Clutter application and click on the edit menu. Next, select Copy. Or for those that prefer keyboard shortcuts simply hit apple-c. It would be simple if you could just drag the image from the Clutter window to the Artwork window, but alas, you cannot.

Now that you have the artwork copied, you will select the song or songs that you want to add the artwork to. Once you select the song(s) that you want to add the artwork to, control (right) click on the song(s) and select Get Info from the list.

Depending on whether you select a single song or multiple songs, the Get Info window that results will vary. In the example below, the first window represents the Get Info window for a single song while the second represents the Get Info window for multiple songs.

Get Info for a single song.
Get Info for a multiple songs.

If you are adding artwork to a single song, click on the Artwork tab in the Get Info window. Click inside the Artwork box (it will be highlighted in blue when selected and ready for pasting) and select paste from the edit menu (or apple-v).

To add artwork to multiple songs, click inside the small artwork box (it will be highlighted in blue when selected and ready for pasting) and then select paste from the edit menu (or apple-v). You will then be asked if you really want to change the artwork for multiple songs, select yes.

That’s all there is to adding artwork to single or multiple songs.

What if Clutter does not find the artwork? If it doesn’t find the artwork then you will see a blank CD case in the clutter window, instead of an album cover.

Just because it doesn’t automatically find the song, don’t be discouraged. There is still one more option, before you have to begin doing google searches.

The Clutter app also consists of an album lookup window. Here you can insert either the artist and album name or both, and search that way.

I would expect some kind of technology like this to be built into a future version of iTunes, but until then…happy hunting.

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