Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My Omnia 7's 8GB of memory and 1500mAh battery ensured my Zune 80 continued to travel with me the last two years. However, with 32GB of memory and a 2000mAh battery, my Lumia 920 has become my MP3 player. But, the transition has not been painless. The majority of the music I synced did so without its album art, no matter where I tried to sync it from (Windows Phone app for WinRT and Mountain Lion, iTunes, Zune or Windows Media Player). This does appear to be a new issue specific to WP8. Just as I was about to give up, I came across MPAtool on the Windows Phone Store.

A quick scan of my library, and all albums and artists had their missing artwork retrieved.

After syncing from PC

After using MPAtool

The only issue with the process (and this is quite annoying) is that a " MPAtool dummy" folder gets added to your music folder's root; this folder consists of a number of 8KB MP3 files. Thus, it appears at the bottom of your list of albums. There's also a separate 8KB MP3 file with the same name in every album folder, meaning it similarly appears at the bottom of the list of songs on an album. The good news is you can permanently remove the " MPAtool dummy" MP3 file added to every album. The bad news is you need to do it one at a time. However, once they're deleted the first time, any subsequent MPAtool scans didn't result in these files returning. Although the " MPAtool dummy" folder can also be removed, I did notice it returned whenever I scanned anew. But, as this is a single folder, it's less of an inconvenience to remove. I should add there's also a "manual attach" feature that allows you to manually associate a single background picture to an artist, picking from a comprehensive gallery, but I was unable to get this to work; either I don't understand what this does, or it's not working.

The app comes with an inoffensive and succinct icon. This is probably not a deal breaker to most people, but I generally tend to judge an app by its icon. What's best is the app is free, and participating in the Lumia Geek 8-Week Challenge. Although the experience would ideally require less manual labour to remove unwanted files (must surely be on the developer's agenda to correct this), I'm patient and obsessive enough to delete every redundant file. If you are too, and have had no luck getting artist/album artwork to appear using alternative methods, MPAtool is what you've been looking for.

Update: I continue to have a regular number of people reach this site by googling about deleting mpatool's dummy files. Fortunately, I've managed to get a reply from mpatool's developer about the points I raised, although it's not exactly good news.