Album Cover Art Downloader Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • New image sources: Walmart, Buy.com, Yahoo! Image search.
  • (4 more, see all...)

Nowadays, computers are used for a lot of things but while doing those things, most people will also listen to music. That music can either be an FM or on-line radio, an audio CD or a few audio files saved in mp3 format on the hard drive. Moreover, some people like to collect mp3 files and end up with very large collections that fill all their drive space. Now, if you're one of those people, you most likely know that there are a lot of programs available which will organize and sort your music collection in various ways and also that most of those programs will also download and display the cover of each album you've bought and turned into mp3 files. However, if you prefer to do the organizing yourself, then you might be happy to know that a free program has been developed which will only search and download an image which best suits as an album cover for all items in your collection. This program is called Album Cover Art Downloader.

Album Cover Art Downloader will go through your collection of music albums and for each one, it will download a set of matching cover images for you to choose from. The search is performed on several on-line stores such as Amazon, Wal-Mart or Buy.com but will be also performed on image search engines such as Yahoo! Images.

Setting a cover for each album in your collection will allow several applications to make use of the downloaded images to display them while browsing the album directory or while playing them. For instance, KDE, Gnome and others that follow the FreeDesktop.org .desktop-entry spec. They will display the cover as the folder icon while browsing through your collection. Other programs include the Windows Media Player, CDcover and CoverViewer (Xmms plugins), as well as various Winamp plugins such as Cover TAG.

Installing Album Covert Art Downloader is a quite easy process, and it gets even easier if you're running a distribution for which an installation package has been made available. For instance, I'm running Ubuntu and have downloaded the albumart .DEB package, which I've installed within seconds with the command dpkg -i albumart.deb. There are packages available for other distributions as well, such as any RPM based distro, Gentoo or even other operating systems, like Microsoft Windows. For all other distributions, there's also a source package available which requires local compiling and installing to make it working. Keep in mind that in order to run the source packages, you'll need: Python 2.3 or better with python-xmlbase, Qt 2.3 or better and PyQT, the Python bindings. You will also need Python Imaging Library and GNU Make.

Once installed, you can start it by running the albumart-qt command from a terminal window or by looking for a shortcut in KDE/Gnome main menu, under Multimedia. The first time it's ran, Album Art will only display empty sections and won't ask you for any locations (the music location for example), but you'll have to do this yourself. So right after it's ran, you'll need to click the File Open and navigate to the directory containing the albums you want to download images for. The program will then load all the directories under that path and try to guess an artist and album for each entry. Next, to set covers for the albums, you have two possibilities: either press the Download Covers button, which will automatically download covers for all directories but it might skip some of them, as it only accepts exact matches when searching covers or, if no images are found, try to broader search, like just for the artist name.

Alternatively, you can set the covers manually. Simply select a directory from the list and check if the artist and album fields are correctly filled. Next, click on Download Covers: after a few seconds, you should see a list of cover images on the right. If no images are found, try to simplify the search by clearing the album field completely. After the search has been successfully completed, you can select a cover from the results and click Set as cover. You can also drag and drop an image from your file manager on the collection item to use that image as a cover.

Once the "Set as cover" button has been pressed, the following actions have taken place: a folder.jpg image has been created in the album directory to be used by Windows Xp. Next, there is a .folder.png and an Icon entry in .directory for Konqueror etc, to be used as commercial. Other actions include embedding the ID3v2 APIC file into mp3 files. Additional custom image targets are also supported.

The Good

Album Cover Art Downloader is a simple, easy to use program which is used only for setting covers to your media collections. Setting the covers can be done either automatically, when the image name best matches the albums name and artist, or can be set manually by manually selecting an image from the search results. The program can search on Amazon, Buy.com and Wal-Mart websites, as well as by using the Yahoo! Image search service.

The Bad

The program's interface is very easy to use, but maybe too easy. It would have been nice if there were buttons for saving the images in a custom location and such. Also sometimes, the results section will display results for older albums and you'll end-up with a very long list of results, making it a little more difficult to find the best suited cover.

The Truth

If you're one of the people which like to manually organize their media collection, this application will come in very handy when you're at the step of setting up the covers. It's also very easy to use and very fast so it won't cause any troubles while using it.

Check out some screenshots below:

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user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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