Ben Dodson

Freelance iOS, macOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV Developer

Apple TV Shows & Movies Artwork Finder

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In 2019, Apple released an updated version of their TV app for iOS, macOS, and Apple TV featuring an all new design where artwork for TV shows and movies was displayed as 16:9 rather than the 1:1 squares they had been using in iTunes. Over the summer, I received a lot of emails asking when my iTunes Artwork Finder would be updated to support this new artwork and I'm happy to say that this is the result.

Simply enter a TV show name or film title, choose the region you want to search in, and press "Get the artwork". Results for each will then be shown similar to the way they do in the TV app showing TV shows first followed by Movies. With TV shows, you can click the artwork or the link to the side to view each season individually. Whether you are viewing a TV show overview, a TV season, or a movie, there are several pieces of artwork that may be returned:

  • CoverArt16x9: This is the 16:9 image that is used by default throughout the TV app at the highest possible resolution available.
  • CoverArt: For TV shows this is often the old 1:1 square image whilst for movies it tends to be the traditional DVD style cover as previously used by iTunes.
  • PreviewFrame: This is usually a screen capture from the particular film or TV episode.
  • CenteredFullScreenBackground / FullScreenBackground - These are used within the TV app for various purposes. They come in all manner of weird and wonderful resolutions and are probably not of much use.
  • BannerUberImage: These are ultra wide images often used as headers within stores or on the Apple TV.
  • FullColorContentLogo / SingleColorContentLogo: These are the logos for the film or TV show as transparent PNGs both in a full colour and a single colour (usually white) treatment.
  • Parallax: Several of the images will have Parallax versions. These are packaged as lsr files and are used on the Apple TV for their fancy parallax UI. If you want to view these, you can download the Parallax Previewer app for macOS.

Please note that each TV show and movie will have differing versions of the files above with CoverArt and CoverArt16x9 being the only guaranteed results. This tool will also only fetch shows that are available from Apple; it will not work for TV shows that display in the TV app but are not available directly from Apple (i.e. shows on UKTV Play, Amazon Prime, or BBC iPlayer). Another peculiarity is that some TV shows and films have not been updated to support 16:9 cover art; these simply return the old versions from iTunes (either square or DVD portrait) and it is up to the application to handle as appropriate (the TV app places them in a 16:9 container with an aspect fit ratio and then adds a realtime blur of an aspect fill version behind).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does artwork take so long to load?
The preview images I use are all fetched at the highest size so they can take a little while to load. You can tweak the URL of any returned image to have the image be resized for you but I found this made things even slower as if the size didn't exist the server would generate it which could take some time. In the TV app, Apple uses smaller sizes which are presumably predefined and cached but I couldn't find the exact size to make this work so just left it as the fullsize (as you likely want this image anyway so may as well download it now).

How does this work?
I'm not going into the technical details of how this search tool works as that would make it likely a patch would be found. Suffice to say that I did some reverse engineering to work out how the artwork was fetched and then provide that access to you. When you perform a search, my server works out what URL you'll need to query Apple's servers and returns it to your browser for you to make; when you get a response, that is sent to my server so I can process it and give you the results. This prevents my server from being the sole connection and means Apple can't simply block the IP address of my server to prevent the tool from working (although if you use the tool excessively your IP might get blocked).

What does the country selector do?
It chooses which Apple Storefront is used for searching; effectively it changes the search results based on what country you search in as different countries have different TV shows and movies available in them. Generally you'll want to set this to be the same as the country you use for the TV app but the option is there to change it as you may be searching for shows that aren't available in your location.

Why can't I find artwork for "insert name here"
The show or movie is likely not available directly from Apple within the region you are searching. For example, in the UK searching for "Taskmaster" or "The Tick" won't return any results as the first is only available on UK Play and the second is only available via Amazon Prime. Both of those apps can show their shows within the TV app but they are not available to this system as their artwork is hosted on their own servers, not Apple's. You can try searching around in different countries as different licensing deals mean some shows are sold by Apple in other regions (for example "The Tick" artwork is available when searching USA.

How come artwork from Sweden is in English?
When you perform a search against a specific country, you are only searching their catalogue; it doesn't make any difference to the language returned. I fetch your language from the browser or OS you are using and so that is used in conjunction with the search country to determine what artwork language you should see. For example, if I search "Harry Potter" in Sweden then I see English artwork as my OS language is set to English; if I set it to Swedish, then I see the Swedish artwork. However, if I have my language set to Swedish but search the USA store, then I get English results as the USA store only has US and Spanish artwork. It's a little confusing but to get localised results you'd need to have your OS or browser set to the language you want and search in a store that has that language within it.

What is the parallax artwork?
This is an lsr file used by the Apple TV in order to create the cool parallax effect that system uses. In reality, it is just a stack of PNG images on top of each other which the system manipulates at different speeds as you pan across to give the illusion of depth. There is likely no reason you'll need these but I included them just because I find them cool. If you want to take a look at them, use the Parallax Previewer app for macOS.

How can I thank you for this tool?
I get a lot of emails from people thanking me for these various search tools and offering to donate money or help out in some way. This really isn't necessary and I don't want to accept money or charge for these services as that would be a precarious legal situation (as I don't own the artwork). Your thanks is more than enough but if you really want to do something extra you can check out some of my personal iOS apps and follow me on Twitter.