The case of the disappearing Folder.jpg files

The detective was stumped...

Generally, Folder.jpg files are image files created to represent or visualise the contents of a folder on Windows computers. Applied to music, album artwork is named Folder.jpg and is stored alongside the tracks for the given album. Music players, when playing the music from a given album, are able to lookup the Folder.jpg file inside the source folder of the music files and display this as the artwork (although other means of storing artwork exist)

Recent versions of the Windows operating system have seen the lookup and creation of Folder.jpg happen automatically, often without even listening to music. This sounds ok in principle; it may save you some work. But the subject of this blog post is not what Windows does, it's the way that Windows does it.

Windows Media Player version 11 and later introduced a new feature that finds and downloads album artwork as Folder.jpg automatically. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems in exactly what it does, such as download inferior (lower resolution) art, overwriting anything that already exists. Less obvious is the fact that it then marks these Folder.jpg files as 'system' read-only files, hiding them from Windows Explorer and preventing them from being updated by other applications with saner allowances for different album art resolutions.

Worse, recent versions of the Windows operating system itself ("WMP") now perform this function without you even starting up WMP. Step forward the Media Streaming Metadata Synchronizer, installed within Windows Home Server 2011. Unless you live in a soley Microsoft world and are happy with low resolution album art, it's best to disable this, at least until Microsoft release an update so that you are able to configure it to work as you like. HINT HINT, BILL

Help, my Folder.jpgs have disappeared!

Folder.jpgs that have been changed to system and/or hidden files will disappear from Explorer and software will have trouble updating the files. bliss, for example, will give this message:

Folder.jpg - access is denied!

If Windows Media Player or the Media Streaming Metadata Synchronizer have already done their dastardly deed, it's time to fix your Folder.jpgs. Thankfully, Windows comes with the powerful command line tool attrib which can be used to set your system and hidden attributes in bulk.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open a command window
  2. Change directory to the root of your music library
  3. Issue the attrib command

There, you go, sorted! Oh, you wanted more detail...?

Start by opening a command window. Click the Windows button or Start Menu, click Run or Search programs and files and type cmd. It should look a little like this:

Opening a command window

Press return. Your command window opens.

(You should also be able to find the same Command Prompt in the Start Menu under All Programs then Accessories)

Type cd [your music library] where [your music library] is the path to the root of your library, as supplied to bliss. Here's how it appears for me:

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

C:\Users\gravelld>cd C:\Users\gravelld\Music


Now you can issue the attrib command. Here's what the command you should issue looks like:

attrib -s -h Folder.jpg /s

The attrib command is used for adding and removing file attributes. The -s -h arguments mean "remove the system and hidden attributes" from whatever files match the next statement. This next statement is Folder.jpg /s which means every file named Folder.jpg in this folder and child folders. This means every single Folder.jpg in your library will be changed.

Now let's type that in...

C:\Users\gravelld\Music>attrib -s -h Folder.jpg /s


There's no feedback as to whether the command was successful, but if you check using Explorer you should now be able to see all of your Folder.jpgs, and the files will be writeable by other software, including bliss.

I hope this fixes your Folder.jpg woes!

Thanks to benklocek for the image above.
tags: album art windows
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The Music Library Management blog

Dan Gravell

I'm Dan, the founder and programmer of bliss. I write bliss to solve my own problems with my digital music collection.