Like half the internet, I’ve been enjoying/dissecting iTunes 7. But I just stumbled on something odd I thought was worth re-posting here.
iTunes has been able to store and display cover art for a long time. At core, that’s not new. But what struck me in iTunes 7 is how quickly it suddenly seemed able to write image data into an entire album’s worth of tracks. I know Apple didn’t make my disk faster, so something else must be going on. Then it occurred to me to have a look in ~/Music/iTunes/ . Sure enough, there’s a new “Album Artwork” folder. And inside, a hierarchy of folders containing untyped .itc (I Tunes Cover?) files.
Well, that explains why writing cover data has gotten so fast, since audio files no longer need altering. All iTunes has to do is create a small data file once and reference it from the library for each file in the album. This is nice for speed and nice for not swelling audio collection file sizes, but sucks for portability between machines/platforms. Why isn’t this a preference? Or an optional mechanism to “permanently store art inside music files” or similar?
Personally, I’d prefer to spend the disk space and the time to have cover art written into my files, not stored alongside them. From my perspective, iTunes just took away my ability to handle this aspect of my music collection correctly.
While we’re on the topic, caveat tunezor: Reports are floating around on mailing lists of undesirable things happening when you select your entire library and ask iTunes to download cover art for every track. When matches are found, existing cover art you’ve spent years gathering may be replaced with art Apple thinks you should have, “including that from Music Store previous purchases.” Original covers may be replaced with covers from compilations. I haven’t experienced these problems myself, but would be interested in hearing from others who have. For now, I’m only downloading album artwork selectively, and only for albums for which I don’t already have cover art.