iPhone Album Artwork Woes

Issues with wrong artwork or missing artwork on your iPhone? Deleted all your music and re-added only to see the problem get worse? Dreading a factory reset only to discover issue is still there? DON’T RESET!

Using this method you will have to manipulate some system files on the iPhone and also delete all your music from it.

I believe the issue lies within iTunes tagging/referencing of artwork in your iTunes library. You will need to MANUALLY assign artwork from now on instead of allowing iTunes to automatically lookup artwork (actually embedding the image to each mp3 file). This is key to solving this issue and preventing future occurrences. iTunes will lookup and download appropriate artwork; however, it will not physically add the artwork to your mp3 file. This is a set up for disaster when one mp3 cross reference leads to another mp3′s artwork due to differences in library databases…


1. Plug in your iPhone and delete all music off your phone. Turn off auto sync music in iTunes (make sure to select “Manually manage music and videos”). Disconnect iPhone.

No auto sync...

No auto sync…

Select to manage manually...

Select to manage manually…

2. From within iTunes, CLEAR ALL iTunes assigned artwork from all non-iTunes purchased music. The easiest way to do this is to highlight every song in your library and right click and select “Clear Downloaded Artwork” (after this I would double check all the albums assigned by iTunes have been cleared).

Clearing downloaded artwork...

Clearing downloaded artwork…

3. Exit out of iTunes.

4. Now we need to make sure iTunes will never be able to reference artwork from its personal database. On your computer, delete all the folders/files from path: /user/music/itunes/album artwork/

5. Download, install, and open iFunbox http://www.i-funbox.com/

6. Plug in iPhone. Make sure you’ve quit the Music App (hold home button and then exit out Music App). Open iFunbox and then open “Raw File System/iTunes_Control”

Raw file system...

Raw file system…



7. Just in case, highlight every folder in this window (Artwork, Device, Music, etc) and select “Copy To Mac” in order to create a backup in case something goes awry.

8. Navigate to “iTunes_Control/Artwork” and delete “ArtworkDB.”



9. Navigate back to “iTunes_Control” and now access “Music” and delete everything in this folder.

10. Now navigate to the “iTunes_Control/iTunes” folder–delete all the contents of “Artwork” (different folder from step 8).

Artwork folder contents...

Artwork folder contents…

11. Navigate to the “iTunes_Control/iTunes” folder and delete every file starting with Medialibrary.***

The culprits...

The culprits…

12. Exit out of everything, unplug your iPhone. Restart your iPhone by holding the power/hold and home button until you see the Apple logo.

13. Open iTunes and plug in your freshly restarted iPhone. At this point you should have no music on your iPhone. Since you’ve cleared all your downloaded album artwork, you’ll need to manually add artwork to your music (make sure the images are embedded into the file). Now manually add music to your iPhone. Launch your Music App. If the album art is correct you can manage your music however you want.

Voila! This should have solved the issue of corrupted album artwork! For future reference, DO NOT let iTunes lookup artwork for you–always manually add artwork yourself!

If this did not solve your artwork issue, please leave a reply (link at top) and let me know.

52 thoughts on “iPhone Album Artwork Woes

  1. Pingback: iPhone - Album Art is wrong - Page 2 - Mac-Forums Discussions for Apple Products & Services

  2. Dave P.

    Thanks for this! I never had this problem until iOS 6. I tried other, similar solutions, but the problem always reoccurred.

    FWIW, it didn’t work the first time. I followed the steps closely, but when I deleted all of the music on my iPhone, I didn’t delete the playlists. They were empty, of course, the names were still there. When the artwork got corrupted again, I followed all of your steps *and* deleted all of my playlists. It worked that time, and I’ve had no problems since.

    Thanks again!

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Glad this helped. I’m curious as to why the playlists would have prevented the fix. How did you delete your music?

  3. Hendrick

    Doctor Chewy,
    I am still having trouble adding album artwork to each song after the indicated procedure.
    I have 5th gen. iPod touch recently updated to the newest firmware (iOS 6.1.3) along with itunes (
    Things started to act after the update, and now I have nothing but “music note” artwork to each song.
    I can add artwork to itunes and it shows, but just not on the iPod screen. This is really killing me…
    I have even deleted my whole library and still wouldn’t work.

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Did you make sure to delete the medialibrary.*** files and restart your ipod/music app? This should force your touch to rebuild it’s library and fix the issue.

  4. Randy

    I looked a very long time online for some answeres trying this “solution” and that “solution” to no avail and getting pretty frustrated in the process. Finally, I came across your soulution…and it worked! Until…the next morning when I booted up by PC. iTunes would not load saying that it was missing files to do so. I have deleted iTunes and am in the process of reloading. I hoping that this will work and that all the previous artwork that was causing the problem will remain gone since it worked so well with your method.
    (I’m using the latest version of iOS6 and have an iPhone 5)

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Glad This helped. The iTunes issue is odd… You only deleted the downloaded artwork folder and nothing else? Let me know what you find!

  5. Marcus

    Ive been searching for days now and this seems to be the best fix. However, im not sure what went wrong but I didn’t back up and now my iPhone shows no album art at all. Any ideas

      1. Marcus

        Yes it does, I seem to have solved the problem by simply re-doing the steps above. I also deleted everything in the Sync/Media folder. Thanks so much!

  6. rinchensagi

    OMG,.Im so thankful to you,.. this problem has got the hell out of me for sometime as i really care bout albumart and stuffs which makes my iphone music look cool,..Im using an IPhone 5 and this problem started just after i tried to get album art through i tunes,..i ws searchin for something like this and finally got it,.. Thank You very much for this tutorial n introducing me to iFunbox, CHEERS,.!!

  7. Lee Gately

    My music library has over 80,000 songs, most of them with manually-added (sometimes custom) artwork. This process above… wouldn’t it mean having to locate and re-install artwork to each of those albums? [Nearly all of my artwork was added through Info/Artwork, not using Apple services. My iphone currently displays the correct artwork most of the time, but too often lately the artwork is missing or the wrong artwork is showing on my iPhone.] Thanks!

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Yes, you would need to reinstall all your music again. The reason more and more songs are showing the wrong info/artwork is due to a corrupted database. If you “reset” the database you will have to reinstall your music as well. I wish it were easier but this is the only way I’ve been able to successfully resolve the issue and prevent it from reoccurring.

  8. XplicitLyrx


    I’ve had problems with album art showing up on my phone for awhile, and recently would see no artwork at all until I started playing a song, and then I’d get artwork for a completely different album!

    I was skeptical about this, but it worked! Thank you so much.

  9. Blair

    I have had this problem for well over a year and through many iOS updates. I have been scouring google for a solution and came across this page. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. I followed the steps carefully and upon completion same issue with the wrong cover art. However, I might be a special case. I manage my music through Media Monkey (I hate iTunes as a music manager) to include embedding the cover art to the music file. I then import the playlist I created in Media Monkey into iTunes. The part that aggravates me, is the cover art is correct in iTunes. It is only incorrect on my iPhone 5. And for some reason, most of the incorrect music artwork shown is actually podcast artwork from my podcast library.

  10. Huey

    OMFG THIS IS THE SOLUTION I’M LOOKING FOR! I followed everything you said except at the end where I must manually add music on my iPhone. I proceeded to syncing a playlist which contains all of the songs I previously had on my phone. My library now displays the album artwork properly! I didn’t have a hard time with clearing the album artwork database because all of my songs (13000+ ) have embedded album artwork. Thanks man! You are a lifesaver!

    P.S. I’m using iOS 7 Beta 1. Don’t judge :D

  11. ChooChoo75

    This solution does work, however the issue has come back several times. In my configuration I see the problem generally in the video section (TV shows mainly), but then again I haven’t added a lot of artwork to music. I think I’ve narrowed down the cause, at least in my configuration, to the problem of incorrect artwork. I think the issue is caused by one (or more) of the following (in order of my best guess as to the cause):

    1. It seems to happen frequently when I delete items (TV shows) on the iPod Touch once they’ve been watched. If I do the deletions from iTunes (version – I don’t like the version 11 interface), the problem doesn’t seem to happen.

    2. I haven’t done a lot of structured testing, but I massage items using Media Monkey (generally a great product) before I import them. I add the artwork, set the tag name, and various other attributes. I’ve been wondering if somehow that is causing the problems. The artwork looks correct within iTunes. My thought is that some attribute is being set that somehow causes corruption on the iPod Touch. I began wondering about this when Media Monkey didn’t correctly set the type of media being imported (ie. marking as TV didn’t cause iTunes to put it into the TV Shows folder automatically). Using iTunes I have replaced the artwork of those that are defective and resent them back to the iPod Touch, but I suspect that the damage has already been done. The reason that I include this in my possible causes is because I didn’t have this issue until I started using Media Monkey to manage items prior to importing into iTunes. Previously I made all the changes within iTunes, but that did not impact the actual files which meant that I had to do the work a second time if I ever had to import the files again.

    If I come up with any additional observations I will pass them along.


  12. Varun

    Hi, I can’t seem to find the iTunes_Control folder in Raw File System. :( Any idea why this is? Please help.

  13. LedZepfilm

    Thank you SO MUCH! When I opened iTunes again, my artwork was still there because I manually installed it. But instead of showing no artwork or glitching, it showed the correct album cover! Thank you!

  14. Airam Sellav

    Fixed it! Thank you so much! It was driving me crazy as I’m kind of OCD with this kind of thing. One thing though, there are 4 albums in the cover flow view that have no artwork even though it shows up in the track list and album view lists. What gives?

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Likely still a corrupt database. If you add more new songs do those get the default blank label?

  15. TF

    I have several thousand albums, most of which have album art from iTunes. This works fine for all devices syncing to the library, except daughter´s iPhone 4. So how could this be? I am reluctant to erasing all album art because of the many hours of work it will mean to get them back manually. And I can not understand why this problem only occurs on iPhone 4. Any ideas?

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      What I think happens is that the music database on your iPhone becomes corrupted–not sure how, but it does. Then everything hence forth on that particular iPhone will cause issues while other iDevices sync’d to the same library may not as those iDevices’ have uncorrupted databases. Hope this helps.

  16. Kevin Butler

    If the iTunes .mp3 files are in a different location than the album art does it matter? Will this still work?
    I put all the .mp3 files in a directory structure shared across accounts on the same computer.

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      I think this causes an issue as the actual artwork is separate from the MP3 file itself. This method of organization needs some sort of database iTunes creates to link files with artwork–this extra step somehow lends itself to produce the artwork issue although I’m not sure how it happens.

  17. Not

    Doc C, thanks for the most detailed help on this that I’ve found anywhere. Sadly, this procedure only fixes the problem temporarily as it always comes back on both my iPhone 4 and iPad, even whilst still using manually manage music and videos. Interestingly lots of the music artwork has been mixed up with podcast artwork. Could the podcasts be causing it somehow?

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      I do not think so as I don’t keep any podcasts on my iDevices… IMHO, I think the issue sometimes is due to the way MP3s are tagged. I think the high variability as how MP3s are tagged (especially when downloaded from unreliable sources) somehow affects the way iOS interprets them. I do not know how to really explain this but what I did was completely overhaul my entire music library (manually editing my tags) and have not had a hiccup since. It’s a PITA but I have not found a better solution…

  18. Not

    P.s. Reading up I realise there have been a few comments since i was last here. I too use MediaMonkey to organise files before adding to iTunes. Sounds like I have the same issue as Blair above.

  19. Patchy

    This works a treat – I have ‘rescued’ an iPhone 5, iPhone 4, and an iPad 2 all running dissimilar iOS versions.

    The problem is so widespread, based on posts and responses on the official Apple forums and elsewhere, and repeatable (my iPhone 5 scrambled in the first 48 hrs of ownership) that one would think Apple would address or at least acknowledge the problem, especially since this fix demonstrates that their database/artwork setup is easily, even automatically, corrupted.

    A conspiracy theorist might say that Apple is concerned only with people doing things Apple’s way i.e. downloading podcasts, buying music, etc. via iTunes or other approved channels. But that’s not real life for most. In my case, I record radio streams and create my own condensed podcast versions including artwork. I don’t know if this is/was the cause of my problems but it definitely seemed to contribute.

    Sync is replication by another name and replication requires a respective master list of items and/or images on both sides of the fence so that they can be reconciled when a connection is initiated. Whatever Apple’s intentions or database design goals originally were they are clearly flawed and deserving of a functional replacement that doesn’t require the ingenuity and/or elbow grease of its user base who have shelled out for these expensive baubles only to be press-ganged into becoming an unpaid tech support force.

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      (See my previous reply to another member)

      IMHO, I feel the issue lies within the MP3 files and its tagging system. There are so many variables that can be manipulated in the tag of an MP3 I’m not sure iOS devices are capable of handling everything. I’m not quite familiar with the architecture of this design but I keep linking the problem to the file itself. I wonder if other non-iOS devices have this issue? I remember doing a quick google search and saw other articles like this for other MP3 devices.

  20. Scurfie

    Installing iFunbox on my PC, and removing the media data from my iPhone was all I needed to do. I added the album art for each album on my phone, using iTunes, and it worked. I had used MediaMonkey in the past, so I think there may be an issue with that app and media database corruption.

  21. antonio

    Hi, I had a similar problem with my iPod nano 6th gen.
    I don’t have done all the steps you wrote but thanks to your post I understood the problem. And solved!
    All my MP3 have yet the cover inside, but after an “incident” my iPod asked me “Use iTunes to restore”. I restored the iPod and reloaded music (I have set “encode to 128kbps…” but maybe it is irrelevant). and then all the artwork was mixed randomly. And no way to fix with reset, reboot, delete and reload songs, etc.
    But reading your post i realized that the problem was in the artwork index/reference. And I was able to fix it without any other software.
    This worked form me:
    1) enable disk use (only for having the time to do the others steps)
    2) open terminal
    3) go in the iPod’s artwork DB folder:
    cd /Volumes/[iPod's name]/iPod_Control/Artwork
    4) Delete the database
    rm *
    5) reboot the iPod. Now no artworks at all.
    6) resync iPod with iTunes.
    Done! Now all the files have their own cover.

    Thanks for putting me on the right way. :-)

  22. Julie Mango

    These steps worked great for me on my iPad Generation 4. I had great album art and then all of a sudden anything I added had the incorrect picture. Thank you Doctor Chewy.

  23. REB

    Thank you very much. I just followed your instructions (but on a PC instead of a Mac) and it appears to have worked a treat.

    Again, thank you

  24. Dale

    I have the new iPhone 5S on IOS 7.01. I synced my music and all the album covers show up in Album tab but most covers in Artist tab are missing. I have an iPad and an iPhone 5 both on IOS 7 and there is no problem on them. Any ideas on how to fix this? I HATE missing album covers!!!

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Sounds odd… I’d delete all the music and try to resync. Otherwise I’d delete the database on the 5S and see if that helps.

    1. Doctor Chewy Post author

      Manual labor (Amazon, google images, etc). Some have had good luck with 3rd party software like Media Monkey, etc…

  25. Jeff

    This works! Thanks! The key step to get it to work for me was to remove all movies as well. And I think more importantly, in step 1, after you click “Manage manually” is to press apply and reboot again. Thanks again for the real solution.

  26. StupidBunny

    Seems to have worked like a charm. Thanks a lot, you’ve saved me a hell of a lot of trouble and time-wasting here. :)


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