Q: Hi there. I just read some great advice from your site about moving files other than just the music to an external hard drive. Of course, before I read it, I tried on my own to move just the album art to my hard drive. When that didn’t work and I lost a bunch of my artwork, I asked for it to download again. Now that all of my iTunes data is neatly on my external hard drive, the album art folder has doubled in size.

Is there a way to get rid of the duplicate downloaded artwork without losing the artwork that I have copied and pasted from various other sources? I have spent many hours filling in missing artwork with my own images and/or correcting the downloaded artwork.

– Wendy

A: Actually, clearing out the downloaded artwork is relatively straightforward: simply exit iTunes and delete the “Album Artwork” folder from within your iTunes folder entirely and this will take care of clearing out your automatically downloaded album artwork as well as any cached copies of any artwork you’ve added manually yourself.

The key here is that when you add artwork to a track directly via copy-and-paste or through the track info dialog box, the artwork is actually stored within the tags for the MP3 or AAC file itself, and only a copy is cached in the iTunes “Album Artwork” folder for faster access. On the other hand, artwork downloaded automatically through iTunes is not embedded into the tracks themselves, but only stored in the iTunes “Album Artwork” folder structure.

In fact, if you look inside the “Album Artwork” folder, you’ll see two sub-folders: Download and Cache, representing these two types of album artwork. Although you could just delete the “Download” folder to remove downloaded artwork, it is possible that the content of your Cache artwork folder has been duplicated as well, taking up additional disk space unnecessarily.

The Album Artwork folder will be recreated the next time you restart iTunes, and any artwork contained in your tracks will be re-cached by iTunes and stored in the “Cache” folder. You can then manually re-download any missing artwork from the iTunes Store as you normally would.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.