Tag Archives: itunes

Quickly/automatically grab lyrics and album artwork for non-store mp3s in iTunes

(Quick note, this tip is for Mac users only currently; if someone has a comparable method on Windows, or even Linux, let me know and I’ll add it).

 So you’ve added a ton of mp3’s to your collection, acquired by who knows what means, but many of them are missing artwork, and probably all are missing lyrics.

 As an iPhone/iPod Touch user, this frustrates you to no end, because when you are gazing lovingly at your iPod while jamming, you see a goofy big black note instead of mind blowing album art, and cover flow mode just seems to mock you.

Worse, when you want to know if Jimmy is saying "excuse me, while I kiss this guy", you have no way of knowing…tapping the screen brings up nothing but frustration (and the playback controls). 

 Well here’s a quick and dirty (and free, the best kind of) solution to get you set up in a jiffy.

It involves two pieces of software:

  • Gimme Tunes – This amazing little iTunes companion/plugin generally does a few things:
    • Show a bubble popup during song transitions with song info
    • Grabs artwork for a song when it plays (ding!)
    • Grabs lyric for a song when it plays  (ding!)
  • And then we have NeedleDrop. NeedleDrop is an AppleScript that interacts with iTunes to automatically play N number of seconds of a song, and works its way automatically through a playlist (or all music if you’re not in a playlist).  

So, you can see where this is going. GimmeTunes would be perfect if it would automatically go through songs; NeedleDrop would be perfect if it grabbed artwork and lyrics. Like other famous matches made in heaven, if you put your NeedleDrop and my GimmeTunes, you’ve got a great solution.

 I won’t go into full installation details, it’s a Mac, it’s easy anyway, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Install iTunes (99% of you have this)
  2. Make sure your music is listed in iTunes (I suspect you’re here already)
  3. Install GimmeTunes
  4. Make sure the preferences are set to grab artwork and lyrics (pretty sure they are)
  5. Install NeedleDrop (this one is slightly more tricky, read the doc that comes with it)
  6. Select the first song in your Music list, or make a Playlist that contains only the tracks without lyrics and artwork. (Check out the NeedleDrop site for other scripts that may help here. I just used my entire folder because what can it hurt?)
  7. Launch NeedleDrop and tell it to play at least the first 5 seconds (it defaults to 10), and 0 seconds from the start of the file. (Not that this one matters)
  8. Hit ok and watch it rip!
  9. I like to turn on the lyrics window (Show Lyrics in GimmeTunes) to verify it is grabbing lyrics properly for a while.

The time it takes is equal to (Number of seconds of each song to play * number of songs in collection). Mine finished in just a few hours, running in the background while I worked.

 It may not be the most elegant (or only way), but it worked for me and didn’t cost a dime. If you have other ideas (for other platforms, solutions, etc.) drop em in the comments!