Automatically retrieving CD information and album artwork

Q: I have an iMac and am importing my older CDs into iTunes. Unfortunately, I have to type in all the information for each CD individually. Is there a easier way to add this information and a picture of the album cover?

– Richard

A: Normally when you insert a CD into your computer, iTunes should attempt to look up information for that CD using the Gracenote CD Database (CDDB). However, this does require an Internet connection, and that iTunes itself not be blocked from accessing CDDB by a firewall application on your computer. Further, since CDDB looks at the entire CD to get its lookup information, it does not usually work with home-burned CDs unless they are exact copies a commercial CD.

If you are connected to the Internet and this is not working for you, ensure that you have the option Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet enabled in your iTunes preferences. In iTunes 8, this can be found on the General tab:

Automatically retrieving CD information and album artwork 2

In iTunes 7 and prior, this is found on the Advanced, Importing tab.

You can also force iTunes to retrieve CD track names on an individual basis by selecting Get CD Track Names from the iTunes “Advanced” menu.

Note that CDDB only includes track information, and not actual album artwork. This can be obtained separately from the iTunes Store, however, at no cost, although you will need to set up an iTunes Store account to use this feature. This normally occurs automatically as long as you are signed in to the iTunes Store. This feature is automatically enabled in iTunes 8, and in iTunes 7 there is a setting for it which can be found on the “General” tab in your iTunes preferences.

To retrieve the artwork for an individual track manually, simply select Get Album Artwork from the iTunes “Advanced” menu. iTunes will prompt you to enter your iTunes Store user id and password if you are not already signed in, and will then attempt to look up the album artwork on the iTunes Store. Note that artwork can only be located for tracks that are sold on the iTunes Store, and in some cases matches may not be found simply due to differences in artist and album names.

If your album artwork cannot be found automatically by iTunes, you can still add the artwork manually, of course. Third-party applications such as iArt are available which scan other Internet sources for album artwork, and you can simply look up the album artwork yourself on sites like Amazon and add it to your tracks manually by dragging and dropping it into the “Artwork” panel which appears in the lower-left corner of your iTunes window.