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I have recently been trying to systematically extract album artwork from my iTunes library, such that I can use them elsewhere.

I understand that all the album artwork is stored in the Album Artwork folder, inside iTunes-specific .itc2 files. I have researched and found that these files are simply wrappers for PNG, JPG, and RAW image data.

Which is fine - I can extract those images as I wish - however, I cannot determine how iTunes knows which .itc2 file belongs to each album. For playlist artwork, I have found that the second part of the file's name is equal to the Playlist Persistent ID found under the corresponding playlist in the iTunes Music Library.xml file. Yet it seems the same is not true for album artwork - there is nothing like an "Album Persistent ID" parameter.

So how does iTunes know which album each album artwork file belongs to?

  • Are you sure a file belongs to an album? I think that each individual song has it's own artwork file. An album, in the physical-old-school sense of a CD or LP, is the same in iTunes as a Playlist- they are both a virtual group of arbitrary songs. As you've found, playlists can be albums, or groupings of non related songs, in which case the "playlist art" that I often see is 4 pieces of art from songs in that playlist. – Chris Paveglio Jan 3 '18 at 20:22
  • Hmm, it's possible that the artwork belongs to a song instead, but I still have no idea how they're related. They don't seems to be associated via the songs's internal ID. – MC ΔT Jan 4 '18 at 1:59
  • I'm pretty sure it is copied into each song file, for two reasons: (1) When I add artwork to a whole album, a progress pop-up shows the song names one at a time; (2) if I copy a file from iTunes to another directory, it still has the album art as its icon. It's such a waste of space, if a copy is kept elsewhere with pointers. – WGroleau Feb 9 '18 at 15:06

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