Monday, February 18, 2008

Automatically Embed Album Art to Large MP3 Collection

If you are like me you have a large collection of MP3 music files on your hard drive.  Some of my MP3's were converted from places like iTunes and Amazon, while others were ripped from my CD collection and others came from all over the place.  Well the end result is a pile of MP3's where some have album art but many others do not. 

At home I use SageTV's HTPC program and on the road I use an iPod to listen to music and it's helpful to have album art embedded into the file itself instead of having a separate photo file for the album art.  When you have a large collection, this can be very tedious if you do it one-by-one.  My solution is to make this process as automatic as possible using MP3Tag.


When you embed album art into the file itself it's easier to move the mp3 file and

If you have a large MP3 collection that you want to transfer to the PS3, you'd want to have album art for each track since the PS3 can only sort one level deep for any media.  If you embed album art into your media *before* transferring to the PS3, you can then group your collection by Artist and consequently view all albums by that artist with pictures for each track showing which album it belongs to.  Its the only decent way to currently use music in the XMB until sony gets its act together and allows folder structures on the native PS3 harddrive (as well as supporting folder.jpg type album art on import).

Here's how you can *automatically* update your MP3 collection with album art.

Note: you must already have album art for each album in your collection.  You might have a "folder.jpg" in each albums folder that you downloaded yourself or if you use something like Microsoft's Media Player, you might have automatically downloaded album art in each folder named something like: "AlbumArt_{0C2xxxx}_Large.jpg", etc.  If you relied on Microsoft Media Player to get your album art, the files it downloaded are probably hidden so you'll want to show hidden files from within explorer to make sure the art exists for each album (click: Tools menu, Folder Options, View tab, Show hidden files/folders from explorer to unhide).  Whatever your album art type, you just need to know the file names stored in each album folder for the art.

Download the free MP3Tag from

  • Install and run MP3Tag.
  • Select the directory with your digital music files (File-Change Directory) and select the folder with your music.
  • MP3Tag will then load all of your music files.
  • Select the first song in the media list on the right, then press CTRL-A to select all of your music files.
  • Now press SHIFT-ALT-5 to get the "Select Action Type" dialog.
  • Choose "Import Cover From File" in the drop-down list, then press OK.
  • In the "Format string for image filename" field, type your album art filename here.  (e.g. folder.jpg, cover.jpg or Name.jpg etc) 5
  • If you want to replace existing cover art already embedded in one or more of your MP3 ID3 tags click the "delete existing cover art" option.
  • Click OK and let MP3Tag import your cover art for every one of your MP3 files.

Keep in mind that when you embed the cover art into your music file, the size of your music file grows by the size of that cover image.

Once you've finished this, you can delete any of the individual photo files and just leave the mp3 files with the cover art embedded.  To learn more about what MP3Tag can do to help you organize your music files check out this post from last year.