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.

8
  • Jenn

    I’ve tried this before, as it was part of the recent mac heist. What turned me off was how difficult it was to just add your license key. Also, by default it automatically installs song genie (with out asking or telling you). This is not a free add-on but a DEMO that to fully use, you need to buy a key for. I think I will stick with Tune-up. http://www.tuneupmedia.com

  • Ed

    I got this as part of Macheist, and found it to be a complete waste of time. Like most Equinux products it’s completely over-engineered, making a relatively simple task far more complex than it needs to be. I’m certainly glad I didn’t waste $40 on it. Talking of which, how the hell do they justify that price?!

  • Dennis

    The main issue that I had with CoverScout is that it found albums with incomplete Artwork, that were not incomplete. It didn’t really get better when it started to duplicate some songs in my iTunes library (at least I think it did, they were not duplicate before I started CoverScout).
    The worst thing however was, that it doesn’t really seem able to work well with songs without Album title (had to skip back to iTunes, to search for the song title and then back to CoverScout to use it for searching).

    Overall a nice app, but I don’t feel happy with it, since I do not understand how it works. There seems to be a lot of magic stuff happening which I don’t get, and which rather scares me than it makes me happy. (Not to talk about SongGenie)
    BTW, since I already had a equinux app, registration was working rather fast, allthough I still don’t like jumping to other webpages for registration

  • iSeb

    @Jenn: What are you talking about? I bought and installed CS 3 and it did install only one app. SongGenie is a different app with different setup file. Adding license key? Just login to your equinux account from app and activate it. Simple as that. Are you sure you tried CoverScout?

    • Jenn

      @iSeb:Yes, I am aware its a different app. I got it as part of MACHEIST. It sounds like you got yours from the site itself. Was only one install file. I activated cover scout (waste of time though). Activating cover scout did not activate song genie. I tried…this is not simple. Why do we have to try before purchasing? A mac heist bundle has about 10 programs….Most people who bought may not have even heard about coverscout before.

  • http://flickr.com/fiz FiZ

    @iSeb: Everyone who bought the recent MacHeist nano bundle got this program and the version we got came with a demo copy of SongGenie that installed without telling the user, yet CS had multiple hooks to integrate with SG…if only it weren’t a demo copy of SG. Plus, the phone-home license key turned off a lot of people. It was a pretty nasty experience for a lot of MacHeist members.

  • iSeb

    Have you all guys tired CoverScout BEFORE purchase with MacHeist nano bundle?

  • iSeb

    “…tried…” of course :)

  • http://novastormsoftware.com Justin
  • Ed

    Thanks for the link to the thread, I hadn’t even realised I’d ended up with Song Genie as well. That’s the last time I use Equinux or MacHeist. What else have these shady gangs snuck onto my Mac?

    • http://novastormsoftware.com Justin

      It’s not MacHeist – it’s Equinux. MacHeist does things right most of the time. The last nanobundle was a bit less than ideal due to this software being included, but there haven’t been many real problems besides that – at least none that haven’t been resolved one way or another.

      • Ed

        Well, either Macheist a) didn’t know that Equinux were slipping this in under the radar – in which case why should I trust them not to let them same thing happen with any other developer – or b) or they did know and let it go ahead anyway – in which case I’m not prepared to use them any more than I am Equinux.

        Either way, Macheist have lost my trust and business.

  • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

    Interesting to hear all your comments about bundling SongGenie in with the application as well – I agree that’s far from ideal.

    That said, I think it’s possible to be a little over-dramatic about the whole affair. It’s not a malicious trojan, just a marketing scheme that Equinux probably shouldn’t have taken.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with their licensing system – it’s just a little more thorough than the approach taken by other companies.

    I spent a while using CoverScout, and completely agree with Julia’s review – I thought it was really useful, and (personally) didn’t encounter any issues. Obviously this might not be the case for everyone.

    We’ll be running a competition to give away CoverScout and SongGenie later this week, and I’ll be sure to bundle the codes together so the winners receive both applications rather than just one. That way there’s no problem that SongGenie comes in the download!

    • Jenn

      I think most of the licensing issues are from us MacHiesters – I think we just expect not to have to set up a new account with an address when Mac Hiest has it (sort of like a customized install file instead of the regular one.).

      for the contest, can someone who only has coverflow try to win song genie? Will there be a guide similar to above on how to use song genie?

    • Ed

      I agree, it’s not a malicious trojan – but that doesn’t make it right. Whether or not some people are being dramatic or not is irrelevant, the point is Equinux shouldn’t have done it, and Macheist let it happen, whether through negligence or they knew and simply didn’t care.

      Either way, both companies are involved and culpable.

      Regarding the Equinux licensing system: requiring postal addresses for software downloads isn’t being “thorough”, it’s unnecessary and highly questionable.

  • Patrick

    Hey, thanks for that great review!
    But I noticed while im testing that the performance is a little bit slow because of the huge coverflow view ^^

  • dave

    would be nice if it worked standalone as well to cleanup files before putting into itunes.

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  • http://www.thehouseofomni.com John

    In my experience, using largish music libraries, both apps are very slow and buggy, but they do work and give you nice big versions of your artwork.

    One big annoyance is that sometimes CoverScout doesn’t realise that the file has artwork or thinks that it does when it doesn’t. Also a real problem has been when (if you do a library rescan) it dumps all your pervious additions (which in my case was about 1000) and makes you re-add them (a bit of warning would have been great).

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  • http://twitter.com/boastboy Marcel

    Ok, I tried CoverScout & I must admit I was fairly impressed, it worked well and I could find nice hi-res album covers for missing album art, I think that the pairing with SongGenie would be nice, but it definitely is a bit expensive IMO. As for licensing, I wasn’t too worried, it worked in the end.

  • http://w3.securitytechnologies.com/irst/products/Pages/default.aspx smart card

    I could not agree more. Since I get most of my songs either from my friends or through the internet, they do lack album cover. However, when I try to apply album cover to the iTunes, they simply show it with their default black iTunes logo. I tried several times to fix it but even with the iTunes 10, the issue seems to be there. Anyway, now that you have advised to try Coverscout, I am going to try it and will update you how things went!

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  • grey

    just purchased coverscout and actually love it. works great, no issues.

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