What's the correct way to manage album art while using iTunes Match and have it show up everywhere?

I've noticed that, typically:

  • When iTunes Match correctly applies album art in iTunes, it only appears on the first track of the album.
  • Viewing the album after having downloaded it from the cloud to my iPhone, I can typically see the album art
  • Some songs on the album, when played on the iPhone, will display album art, but some will not.

How can I best apply art through iTunes to have it show up everywhere? Must I ensure it's applied to every song, and then Update iTunes Match?

  • For those who don't use itunes. I solved thumbnails bug by deleting all songs in general/usage/ipod, then deleting the folder itunes control through ifiles (it will create a new one) , then reboot (not just respring). Close ipod app, transfert your songs to the ipod and the thumbnails should appear.
    – JinSnow
    May 29, 2016 at 6:28

4 Answers 4


You don't need to download a song on your iOS devise via iTunes Match to get its artwork updated on that device. All you need to do is go into Settings -> Music -> turn off iTunes Match, and then turn it back on. All artwork will update over a few minutes. (I turned device off and back on again before turning Match back on just to be safe, but not sure it's necessary.)

You can go into your Music and see the little spinning wheel constantly working a half second at a time (for each album cover being updated from A to Z). with iTunes recent update to artwork, this is how I got the new artwork over to my iOS device.

  • 1
    This appears to work, actually. Restarting the device wasn't necessary, and, although turning iTunes Match back on warns you that the music on your device will be replaced, this apparently doesn't apply to music you'd already pulled from Match (as was the case with all the tracks on my iPhone). I should also note that I had to turn the Use Cellular Data setting on while away from WiFi (easy step to miss!)
    – Dan J
    Jul 13, 2012 at 18:27
  • Addendum: Still doesn't work for some albums, which I suspect may be missing cover art in the iTunes Store. Will experiment with adding my own art and seeing if it pulls through Match, and update here.
    – Dan J
    Jul 13, 2012 at 23:35

If you can see the album art in iTunes, it will eventually show up in your iOS device when match is turned on. As it is quite data intensive not all album art will show up immediately. The priority order of this is still not known exactly but possibly determined by how frequent the song is played.

To force the download of the covers on iOS, make sure you are on wifi and then go to the Music app and tap on Albums. As each album comes to view on your screen you'll notice the album art gets downloaded and becomes available (you can confirm this by the spinning wheel icon on the top left of the status bar.

For me, as good practice, I use an app like MPFreaker which actually embeds the album art into the file itself. What I found is iTunes keeps this separate and if you end up recovering music etc or move your music into another library, you will lose the cover art.

  • This doesn't work for me. While on wi-fi, if I go to the Album view in iOS/Music, there are several albums that it does not download covers for, despite those albums having covers defined in iTunes, and being Matched.
    – Dan J
    Jan 31, 2012 at 6:40
  • If you ensure all cover art is written to the files themselves, will that art reliably show up under iOS when you pull the music from iTunes Match?
    – Dan J
    Jan 31, 2012 at 6:40

Apply the albums artwork manually. Tools like mp3tag are very useful. I use it to manage my 500+ album collection. Just google the cover. Download it. And apply it across all the albums mp3s using the aforementioned tool. Upon adding the tracks to iTunes, it will sync and play with the proper artwork always.


Actually, I have found the following method to work and have been doing this for years. You need to do it on your computer within I tunes. Find a picture or the art you want for the album and save it to your computer destop as a jpeg. Then, go and click on the album itself on your desktop within itunes. Then click on "get info". There will be a box that opens and an empty space for artwork. Paste that jpeg into that space. That seems to work. Often, with the syncing and matching the art will show up on my computer within itunes but i cannot see the art on my i phone, or i pad or on apple tv. After I do this manual step - it became visible.

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