CoverScout: Tidy Up Your Album Artwork

Are you one of those people dreamily scrolls through their iTunes library, just to admire the beauty of the artwork flying by? And isn’t it annoying that sometimes there are blank spots? Or that iTunes seems to accept the artwork you manually add, but it isn’t showing up on your iPod? Digitizing your CD collection isn’t quite the same without reliable artwork.

With CoverScout these worries disappear. The neat little app searches the internet for artwork, finds the best match, and helps you to create the clean, cover-filled library you always wanted!

Getting Started

After you’ve installed CoverScout for the first time, you are welcomed by a splash screen which offers you a number of video tutorials on how to best use the app.

The Splash Screen

The Splash Screen

When you proceed to the actual application screen, you will see that CoverScout automatically starts to index your library. It assumes that you have your complete iTunes content in the default location, which is in your “Music” folder.

Now, if you have a rather large library, you might have it outsourced to an external drive. You need to tell CoverScout where to look for it and can adjust the settings in the preferences.

Locating Your Music

Locating Your Music

While you are in the preference window, you can also set where CoverScout should search for covers. Some locations like Amazon, Google Images and Walmart are checked by default. If you own music which is only popular in your country, for example the United Kingdom, you should check the appropriate checkbox to increase the likelihood of good results.

Now that you’ve adjusted all the necessary settings – go and have a coffee. Seriously. My library is only about 8,000 songs, but it took about half an hour before everything was scanned and indexed.

Working with CoverScout

Once the scan is finished, you can choose between several views: all albums, albums with no cover, albums with incomplete cover and albums with cover. Naturally, the second choice is the most interesting. In the main window, you see something that resembles iTunes’ Cover Flow, and on the the right side you have a list of albums belonging to the selection you made.

The Main Window

The Main Window

Beneath the still empty cover there are a number of icons. By clicking the loupe you can start a search for a cover instantly. The globe will take you to a websearch, the pen will allow you to actually edit a cover (similar to the editing capabilities of iPhoto) and the printer icon is pretty self explanatory.

When searching, you can choose between Search & Assign, or a simple Search. The difference is that with the first option, CoverScout automatically assigns the cover it deems best to the music. While it can be very convenient for large collections, I personally prefer to pick the cover manually from the presented results to make sure it’s the right one.

Searching

Searching

Once you select a cover and click “Apply”, the cover is included in your music’s ID3 tags. This means that not only will it show up in iTunes, but on other devices as well. If you drag and drop a cover on a piece of music in iTunes, the artwork information was stored in the iTunes library. If you copied the same piece of music somewhere else or played it with something other than iTunes, your artwork most likely didn’t show up. CoverScout solves this once and for all.

Useful Little Details

When the search results are presented, you will see an “A”, a “G” or a “W” beneath the image. Those letters indicate the source of the file (Amazon, Google, Walmart). Additionally, you can either select to see the rating of images (stars) or the resolution. Images with a resolution with less than 300px have a 1-star rating, images with more than 600px are assigned a 5-star rating.

The Cover Rating System

The Cover Rating System

At the very bottom of the search-results pane you might see little dots, one of them highlighted. If there are two or more dots, then there are more search results than you can presently see. Just use the left and right arrows displayed at the sides of the result-bar to navigate.

To speed things up a little, you can have CoverScout search for artwork on multiple albums at the same time. Simply select the albums in the right list-pane and then choose search (or search & assign if you are feeling lucky).

Once the search is finished, CoverScout will indicate with little white bubbles displaying a number behind the album title (in the list view) that there are (or aren’t) results.

One other thing that’s easy to overlook (but very cool) – Just like on your iPod touch or iPhone, when in Cover Flow view, you can turn the cover around and have a look at the songs included in the album. It comes in pretty useful when you need some help remembering details about the album. Alternatively, you can also call up the inspector for more information.

Album Meta Information

Album Meta Information

Conclusion

CoverScout is a delightfully easy to use and incredibly handy application for everyone who has a large music library lacking a full set of artwork.

Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that CoverScout can find everything, but it does make the search a lot easier and faster. Add to it that the information is stored in the ID3 tags and it’s almost a must-buy if you want a beautiful looking iTunes library.

The only downside is the price of around $40, that you may feel to be a little too expensive for the function performed. If you use something similar that comes in at a cheaper price, be sure to let us know in the comments!


Summary

CoverScout is your one stop app for finding, applying, editing and printing all the album covers in your music library. It makes it easy to have a beautiful iTunes library.

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