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Friday 9 August 2013

Solving a bug in iTunes that prevents artwork being displayed

Occasionally I've seen artwork that displays okay in most applications failing to display in iTunes or the Finder within OSX, recently I had a nice example of this issue and looked into it further.

How do mp3s store text ?

Now mp3s store data in fields called frames, and many such frames allow the text encoding to be chosen. The default is ISO-8859-1 character set but this isn't very good for storing non-latin text so you can also store the text using UTF-16, however the downside of this is that two bytes are used instead of one for each character so it is usual to use this unless you need to. Mp3s use the APIC frame to store artwork, and this includes the text encoding field

Why do you need a text encoding field for storing artwork ?

The APIC frame has a description field allowing to describe the artwork, this is rarely used but you can use it. In Jaikoz if you click on the edit artwork dialog you can add a description or change the type of the artwork.

What has this got to do with iTunes ?

Even if the text encoding field is set to UTF-16 the artwork will not display unless the description text is actually encoded as ISO-8859-1, this is a bug in Tunes

How does this manifest itself in Jaikoz ?

If you change the default text encoding to UTF-16 then Jaikoz will use this for every frame in the file whether you need it or not causing a problem for your artwork

So what can I do?

In Jaikoz 5.5.0 we use text encoding of ISO-8859-1 for APIC frames regardless of the value set for the text encoding, no other frames are affected. The only downside to this is that if you want to add a description for your image, and you add one that cannot be encoded in ISO8859-1 the description will not be saved.

How do I fix existing files ?

Just open them in Jaikoz 5.5.0 and use the File/Force Save option, this rewrites all the fields in the file even if they haven't changed so they are rewritten with the current preferences.

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