Review: CoverScout 3

Find your iTunes songs artwork across the web. (March 14th, 2009)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: equinux USA

Price: $39.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to search your music collection. Can search by presence/absence of cover art or by album name. Can find some artwork from many different sources. German, French, and English versions.

The Bad

  • Arcane, unwieldy activation procedure. Does not integrate with iTunes. Crashes on large data sets. Occasionally assigns incorrect cover art to albums.

iTunes has the option to search out cover art for your tracks, and attach the art so it will show up on your iPod. However, iTunes has limited success in finding art for my albums. In fact, I counted album covers for only 156 of the 1675 albums in my voluminous collection.

I figured I'd try CoverScout 3, from equinux USA. The web site claims to "find, apply, edit, and print covers for your music." However, it did not work reliably.

I received a boxed copy of CoverScout from Dr. Bott, LLC., with an activation code printed on the front of the four-page manual. I popped the CD into the drive, and copied the software to my hard disk, which is a nice install experience! When I launched CoverScout, it started up in a demonstration mode, and I had to activate it. Most software that works this way has a dialog box in which you type the code and you're off and running. Not CoverScout; first you have to register at equinux's web site. They want your name, address, and email, and then you have to choose a user name and password. My first attempt at creating a password was rejected with a cryptic error message: "Password does not match with the rules," - but there was no explanation of the rules. Since I was giving them some personal information, I decided to look at their privacy policy. It reads:

We need to register your personal information to fully complete your orders and deliver a high level of customer service for you. This allows us to provide you with convenient access to our products and services. Your personal information also helps us keep you updated with our latest product news, special offers and new releases.
While this isn't a review of equinux's web site, I was not happy with my experience on the site. I filled in all their boxes, chose a password that wasn't against the rules, by trying different things, and activated my copy of CoverScout.

About two minutes later, I received mail from the equinux licensing team congratulating me on my activation. Included in the email was a seven-step procedure to use in case "you have activated all of your available licenses and wish to move a CoverScout license to another Mac." I think this process is unnecessarily complicated.

Cover Art Search

I told CoverScout to find all the music in my music library. It found nothing. I told it to look again. Nothing. Then I figured it out: CoverScout looks in the Music folder in your home directory, but doesn't communicate with iTunes at all.

equinux screen

CoverScout Window - No Artwork Found

All of my music was on an external drive; the only thing in my Music folder was the iTunes Music Library, which only contains references to all the music. Once I told it to look at the folder containing the actual music, CoverScout found the tracks just fine. However, CoverScout should really use iTunes to find the music. CoverScout does not follow aliases either.

iTunes claimed that I had 1675 albums, and I hand counted 156 albums with cover art. CoverScout took 33 minutes to scan my library, and found 1676 albums; of which it said that there were 88 with complete covers and 75 with incomplete covers. Close enough. I have some music from my kids' school music programs, and it is hard to distinguish when one of those albums ends and the next one begins.

equinux screen

CoverScout Window - Artwork Choice

I selected the 1513 albums that didn't have any cover art and told CoverScout to "Search and Assign automatically" for all of them. I expected this to take hours, so I left. When I came back, CoverScout had crashed. I relaunched it, and tried finding cover art in smaller doses. It successfully found art for 75 albums, though some of the art was wrong.

equinux screen

CoverScout Window - Wrong Artwork Found

CoverScout downloads cover art from various web sites such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Google Images. If they have bad information, then CoverScout has no way of knowing that it is wrong. When I tried to find cover art for a second batch of 75 albums, CoverScout crashed again. At that point, I gave up.

The Bottom Line

On the plus side, when it works, CoverScout makes it easy to find the albums in your collection that do not contain cover art. You can also search each category (all albums/albums with cover art/albums with partial cover art/albums with no cover art) in a manner very similar to iTunes. You can also print CD box artwork, but I have no need of that feature.

On the minus side, CoverScout crashes. I cannot recommend this program; on my system, which is a 15" 2006 MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.5.6. CoverScout is unstable to the point of being unusable.

by Marshall Clow


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