CD Art Display


CD Art Display is a small, memory resident program that displays the cover art and lyrics on the desktop for whatever song is being played on your media player.

It will look for the song artwork locally on your hard drive and, if not found, will download it from various sources on the internet.

It also provides a comprehensive range of media player controls from the desktop.

This program reminds me of moreTunes, but there are differences between the two (see below). Here are some notes on CD Art Display:

  • Displays album art: will look for artwork files locally and, if not found, attempts to retrieve it online. Allows you to set rules/priorities for where to find artwork. For example the program defaults are : read ID3v3 tag cover first, the look for folder.jpg in the song folder, then in the same place look for front.jpg, then look in a specific folder under %artist% – %album%.jpg. If not found it will then do a search on (or any of the other country Amazons). Rules are customizable and priorities easily changed.
  • Lyrics: can download and display song Lyrics, and will save these locally for future access. Will show Lyrics in a nice floating window above the artwork thumbnail (as opposed to the browser, which is how most programs do it). Can be set to display lyrics on all songs played by default.
  • Player controls: the program interface includes all the controls that you need pinned straight on the desktop, including interactive progress bar, mouse-wheel adjustable volume, 5-star rating, repeat/shuffle, add to playlist, as well as the prerequisite stop/start/back/forward/etc.
  • Skinnable: select from multiple display styles; many skins available and downloadable. While you can customize every single detail related to how this program looks, the implementation is rather confusing and a bit too much work (simply making the thumbnail bigger took me quite a while to figure out).
  • Placement: your thumbnail can positioned anywhere on the screen; you can optionally apply “magic borders”, always on top, pin to desktop, and lock position.
  • Cover Search: you can manually start an artwork search using different resources such as: Amazon, Google, and Discogs.
  • Supported media players: AlbumPlayer, Helium Music Manager, iTunes, Winamp (not Winamp lite), Windows Media Player, MediaMonkey, foobar2000 (with Winamp API Emulator plugin), MP3Toys, QMP and musikCube.
  • Windows Live Messenger: apparently this app can send a notification of the song being played as well as the artwork through Windows Live Messenger. I don’t use WLM so I did not try this.

Quick comparison with moreTunes: while moreTunes has more information-gathering options (band info/biography, album info) as well as acting as a recommendation engine, I kind of prefer the fact that CD Art Display is more straightforward. I particularly like the way CD Art Display displays Lyrics in a nice floating window rather than in the browser. The CD Art Display interface is also highly customizable whereas moreTunes isn’t, and CD Art Display provides desktop-based player controls, which moreTunes doesn’t. Strangely, CD Art Display takes up approximately 15 megs of memory while moreTunes occupies roughly a third of that.

My wish list (or how this program can be even better):

  • The ability to save artwork straight to ID3v3 tag. It would be nice if the program allowed for doing this either through prompting the user or automatically.
  • The ability to change the look and feel through a graphical interface; e.g. to be able to resize or move elements around rather than by changing values in boxes.
  • Setting priorities for automatic cover search: e.g. something like: if you don’t find it on Amazon, try, then Discogs, then Google, etc.
  • Bugfixes: when using CD Art Display with Mediamonkey, I experienced a crash whenever I tried to rate a song using the displayed stars. That was the only bug I experienced, though, and I’m sure it will be fixed in future versions.
Version tested: 1.0

Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista; requires VB6 Runtimes.

Go to the program page to get the latest version (approx 1 meg).