Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes | iLounge Article


Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes

Apple’s recent updates to iTunes (versions 4.5 and 4.6) offer users many exciting new features including the ability to print CD covers and track or album lists, the importing and converting of WMA audio files (Windows only), an all-new play queue feature called “Party Shuffle,” the sharing of “iMixes” on the Music Store, and last but certainly not least:  streaming audio to a remote set of speakers using an Apple Airport Express with AirTunes technology.  These new features will become the subjects of our next installments of our of “iPod 101” iTunes training series.

This week, we continue iPod 101 with a tutorial entitled “Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes.”  Thanks to iTunes and iLounge, you’ll soon be printing professional-looking covers for your CD backups and custom mixes, and archiving a listing of your tracks or albums… Enjoy!

Apple offers three main options for printing information from iTunes:  CD Jewel Case Insert, Song Listing, and Album Listing.  In each of these three options, there are various templates that allow the user to customize, to some degree, the organization and look of the final product.


We’ll review each of these methods individually, but only after mentioning an important item common to all three:

Regardless of what print method you choose, the subject of your printed material is the entire contents of whatever is selected in the Source column on the left side of your iTunes window.  Essentially, you’ll either be printing the information from your entire library if it is selected as the “Source,” or the entire contents of your currently active playlist.  Unlike prior iTunes functions that we have reviewed here (Album Art, Tagging), printing will not operate on a selected subset of tracks… only entire “Source” listings.  Therefore, if you’d like to print information only on a few tracks, you’ll still have to make a new playlist or smart playlist to contain them.  Once you’ve have this down, continue on to the detail below!

CD Jewel Case Covers:

This is the option most users will use most frequently.  Have you ever burned a (backup?) copy of one of your CDs or a CD you’ve purchased from the music store, only to turn your nose up at the bland paper sleeve you slide it into for storage?  No longer do you need to… iTunes creates great-looking two-sided inserts for the front of your jewel case for you in about 3 to 5 mouse clicks.  Sorry, no back-of-the-jewel-case insert or CD sticker.  Apple… Are you listening?!

  1. To begin, select a playlist.  (The library works, too… but for practical purposes, you’ll be using this option with a playlist belonging to a CD you’ve just burned).
  2. Select File—>Print… from the main menu atop iTunes (PC) or the screen (Mac)
  3. Select CD Jewel Case Inserts
  4. Select your Theme.  “Mosaic” is shown below.
  5. Hit Print, and you’re done!

The “Mosaic” theme is by far the coolest, most popular, and easiest cover setting to use, so I’ll discuss it specifically here.  Feel free to explore the others on your own (Apple’s descriptions are easy to follow).

Mosaic is neat because it works great for both “regular” CDs and Compilations.  When printing a “regular” CD, Mosaic prints the Album Art (explained previously) embedded in the tracks on the front, and fades it as a background image for the track listing on the back.  The result is a nice-looking two-sided insert.  For compilations and custom mixes, it gets even cooler:  Mosaic creates a… mosaic (!) of all the various album art contained in the playlist.  The result here is incredibly nice—See the examples below:


Mosaic Mode with 1 CD

Mosaic Mode with many CDs

Explore, experiment, and have fun!  iTunes’ jewel case inserts really put a fun, professional finish to the “Rip, Mix, Burn” process.

  • Tip:  Print your CD covers onto card stock or photo paper for better-looking, longer-lasting jewel case inserts.

    Song and Album Listings:

    “Song Lists” and “Album Lists” are essentially self-explanatory.  Song Lists provide a nicely-formatted (customizable) listing of your tracks, artists, ratings, playcounts, etc.  Album Lists print out a listing of your albums (with album art!! See photo below) and the tracks contined within.  (I’ll spill my largest complaint with this setting up front:  “Album Lists” do not group compilations, giving this method potential to become messy).

    These two features will be used far less by the average user than CD covers.  Nevertheless, they are quite useful in certain situations.  I use a comprehensive Song List each time I backup my Library to DVD-R, and place it in the binder next to that backup as a record of what’s there.  Perhaps you’d like to print off a playlist or your Library to show to your friends, or save it as a PDF to post on your website.  Regardless, here’s how they’re created:

    1. To begin, select your library or a playlist you’d like to print.
    2. Select File—>Print… from the main menu atop iTunes (PC) or the screen (Mac)
    3. Select either Song List or Album List.  A preview is displayed to the right.
    4. Select your Theme (Song List only).  Here, you’ll be able to customize the information that is put into your printout.  All of the options are easy enough to understand, and I therefore won’t go through them individually, although “Custom” is noteworthy:  It will mirror the columns that you have currently displayed in your iTunes window.
    5. Hit Print, and you’re done!

    What emerges from the printer?  A rather beautifully-formatted listing generated in seconds.  Hooray!  Here are two examples:


    Song Listing


    Album Listing


    iLounge would like to wish you fun in exploring iTunes’ printing features further, and welcome you back for next week’s iPod 101 feature… See you soon!

    Jerrod H. is a Forum Administrator and Contributing Editor for iLounge.

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    The printing stuff is one of the very coolest—and least-mentioned—things in iTunes. And if you print to PDF you can import into Freehand (or whatever) and it’s all editable, even the text.

    One neat thing Apple did… Depending on the number of images in the mosaic, one may have to be larger than the rest to make it all fit. How does iTunes pick which cover to show larger than the rest? The one with the most songs on the disc. Simple and clever (like most of iTunes).

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 3:20 AM (CDT)


    In Media Center, you can export some or all of the Media Library contents as XML, or use transforms to render it into HTML on the fly (very useful for creating custom playback screens!). Or you can access the Media Library database directly with database connections and pull out some or all of the information yourself.

    So you can go the simple route, ala iTunes, or you can tweak it as much as you want. Like most of Media Center. It’s nice, though, that freeware like iTunes does have some reasonably flexible output options.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 7:30 AM (CDT)


    The one thing that is sorely missing is the ability to print back spines. I can’t burn a cd, print out an insert and then put it into my collection if I can’t read the spine in the vastness of my cd tower.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 8:23 AM (CDT)


    I had no idea this stuff was on Itunes. This is such a cool little feature. I’ve always wanted a cheap and efficient way to print my CD covers, this is now it. The mosaic feature is also great. The cataloguing options also could be useful. Thank you iPodlounge for yet again teaching me something I didn’t know.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 8:41 AM (CDT)


    Despite the fact that itunes does not print out the back and spines of cds, there is an answer to the calling. There is a apple script studio for itunes, which can print both the front and back, plus the spine, i think. But, i haven’t tried it out yet, so if someone does just post up how it worked (or didn’t work.)

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 10:00 AM (CDT)


    how do you print to a PDF or other file? I’ve tried a few things, but I think I’m doing something wrong. Could you please explain all the steps? Thanks!!

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 10:07 AM (CDT)



    In MacOS X, you’ll just select “Save to PDF…” from the Print dialog window.

    In Windows, you’ll need a PDF distiller like Acrobat Professional, or a free option like CutePDF—-

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 11:13 AM (CDT)


    ok, thanks a bundle!

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 17, 2004 at 11:21 AM (CDT)


    Anyone know how to decrease the font size on the song list in the mosiac printouts?  I lose the band name on many of my songs with long titles.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 18, 2004 at 8:55 PM (CDT)


    Even more important to me would be to print the CD labels themselves. Is that funcionality in iTunes/planned?
    Any other software recommended in that matter?

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 19, 2004 at 3:13 AM (CDT)


    arg! how dumb of me, I spelt my name wrong! lol

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 19, 2004 at 7:40 PM (CDT)


    I am looking for an answer to this question:  Can I use ipod to store mp2 files, which includes 44, 8 hour tapes of shift work (individuals in dialogue)?  Can I convert my mp2’s to wav and then use an ipod? 
    I am not a computer wiz, and I need specific, concrete answers.  Does anyone have experience with using ipod for mp2’s?  I would appreciate any “simple” input.  Thanks, mk

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 20, 2004 at 8:28 AM (CDT)



    The iPod can’t handle .mp2 files, but—- Luckily for you—- iTunes can.

    Add the mp2 files to your iTunes Library (drag them in, or use “Add to Library…”)

    Select all the files in iTunes

    Right Click (PC) or CTRL-Click (Mac) and choose “Convert to AAC” (Or Convert to MP3, or Convert to WAV)... you can change the filetype in iTunes—>Preferences—>Importing.

    iTunes will then proceed to convert your audio to one of the above iPod-compatible audio formats.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 20, 2004 at 10:27 AM (CDT)


    Thanks for the VERY informative article.  Though I usually find these things out on my own, your article alerted me to a great feature within iTunes.

    Now, I have a lot of printing to do!  lol…


    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 20, 2004 at 1:04 PM (CDT)


    Looks a lot like what this company does:

    Which looks a lot more consolidated, printing 200 albums took way too many pages.  Wonder what software they use?

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 20, 2004 at 1:25 PM (CDT)


    its wicked i made one of these and it came out really good looking its awsome every one should do this for a more professional look when u burn cds !!!!

    hope every one have fun doing this

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 21, 2004 at 5:50 AM (CDT)


    Printing CD covers is a welcome addition to iTunes, but Apple definitely needs to tweek this some more; I don’t like the way it puts “Library” at the top of the tracks printed inside.  The only time it prints something different is if I make a specific playlist for someone else and it will then say “For Peter” or whatever…I’d like this area to be blank or else just have the CD’s title there if it is not a compilation that’s being burned.

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 21, 2004 at 5:21 PM (CDT)


    If you create a playlist with the CD name as the playlist title, you will not get “Library”, it will be Title/Name

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 22, 2004 at 4:12 AM (CDT)


    Why would anyone with an iPod want to burn loads of CDs???  Seems a bit of a paradox. I bought the iPod so I could stop burning CDs!

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 26, 2004 at 5:28 AM (CDT)


    I’m new to the Ipod…I bought a card for napster to start my library, and found out that it won’t download to my Ipod!!  I had to put in a file on my desktop, burn a CD, send to Itunes, and then download to my Ipod - WOW!  After checking out my work, the songs are entered as Track 1, Track 2, etc.  Now I have 23 songs with no title or information - how can I simplify this process and get the song info?  Thanks from a novice…

    Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 26, 2004 at 8:56 AM (CDT)

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