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I'm using Windows 7 (32bit) and currently found that all the meta-data in my audio-files shown missing in Explorer as well Windows Media Player, however, other players like Winamp, iTunes are displaying them correctly but I can't see either album-art or meta data of my mp3 files in explorer. Is there any way to get them back?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

That's because the files themselves don't have the data "embedded."

In the case of iTunes (and WinAmp), the data that you see such as album art is kept elsewhere in a database of sorts. It only shows up when you use those apps (iTunes & WinAmp) to play your audio files. The fix to this problem is to embed each audio file with it's own data so that you no longer need to rely on some secret hidden database of extended information (which is really what "meta data" is, for the most part).

I assume you are asking because when you copy, move, or even use a different player you can no longer see the album art. And yet, there it is as long as you use iTunes or WinAmp. BTW, I understand that WinAmp can also see the iTunes meta data on each audio file which, in your case, would explain why WinAmp can also display album art. Problem is, Windows Media Player and certain other players can't see this data - they have to generate their own. Then again, the opposite is true too! If you happen to have meta data with Windows Media Player then iTunes can't see it. (Don't you just love how Apple and Microsoft work to keep you, the consumer, tied to their products?)

Thank you Apple (and Microsoft), but no thanks! In order to fix this you probably would want to look into "tagging" all your audio files independently so that information including album art show up no matter what you use to play them with. Of course, this does cause each audio file to get just a little bit bigger. But surprisingly the overhead on each file really isn't that much - typically less than 1K.

So if you want to tag your audio files with information including album art about the only free utility I have found to do that is one called MP3Tag ( MP3Tag is not exactly user friendly or even intuitive, but with a little practice you will eventually "get it." It may be a pain to go through your whole library and tag each file, but if you've at least separated your audio files by album it can go a bit faster - and you'll only have to do it once too. After your done, you can play those newly tagged MP3's (WMA's or whatever) in just about any player (and on any computer that you have rights to play them on) that will display album art and it will always be there no matter what you use to play them with.

Hope that helps.

BTW, rights management is a totally separate issue. But again, if you have rights management implemented with your player then please be aware that it partly relies on that meta data to even allow the audio file to be played! Therefore, it's my suggestion to disable rights management whenever possible and make sure that you DON'T pirate songs. I personally prefer that method rather than have rights management forced by some third party's media player. However, depending on where you buy your songs you may have no options - except to maybe take your business somewhere else.

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Thanks for a brief explaination, I use my laptop dual boot with Windows and Ubuntu, so this could be another probable reason of lost of meta data, for Windows, but again, this are working fine with all the media players I've used so far, except Windows Media Player, Windows Explorer and my Symbian phone's built-in media player, as all these apps are refusing to show meta-info. So I suspect on whether meta data is embedded to my mp3 files or they exist separately.

I also transfered my audio files to other machine using Ubuntu instead of Windows just to see if different file transfer algorithms (with Windows and Linux) might ruin things. And as expected, problem persisted only with above 3 apps that I mentioned, while all other media players I used show meta-data, no matter which OS I use. Anyway, I got another reason to ditch Windows.... ;-)

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