Changing Thumbnail Art for Video Files

I come across a lot of forum postings where people ask how to change the thumbnail art (or cover art) for video files. By default, most video conversion software don’t specify the cover art for a converted video file, so the Zune Software will simply use some random frame from the beginning of the video. The standard tools that people use for setting the meta data for a video file (e.g., TigoTago, zMeta, dSHARPIE) don’t have provision for editing or defining the cover art.

I’ve learned on the Babgvant’s Blog that the cover art is controlled by the bitmap data contained in the WM_Picture meta tag, however, I haven’t been able to find any application that can edit that tag… until now!

The program called AudioShell is not really a program that you run independently, but rather a shell extension which you access from File Explorer on your Windows system. With this extension installed, you can right-click on any video file to bring up a popup context menu, where you can select “Properties…”. The next dialog box that appears has a tabbed screen labeled, “AudioShell Tag Editor” from which you can select a jpg or bmp file to be the cover art for that particular video file. Very easy to use, and very handy for defining cover art for your converted video files.

One thing to note, is that it seems to take 1-2 minutes for this utility to completely save the cover art image to the video file, so be patient.

Below is a few images of what this extension looks like:

Since this extension is called “AudioShell” I can assume that it is primarily used for audio files, however, it does seem to work with video files also. Because of this, you can probably find other ID3 Tag editors that can add cover art as well. I really like this utility, since it can be access by doing a right-click on a filename direct from within File Explorer.


22 thoughts on “Changing Thumbnail Art for Video Files

  1. Anurag says:

    That’s pretty cool, I will def. give this a shot. I have a host of Seinfeld episodes, and buncha movies on my Zune, and will this will make it easier to locate them. Thanks.

  2. Brian says:

    One thing I’ve noticed with AudioShell is that setting the Genre does not seem to work with videos. I tagged a bunch of vids as “TV Show” and they do not show up on the Zune as TV Shows.

  3. zunetips says:

    Brian – Categorizing videos as “TV Shows”, “Movies”, etc. can’t be done by adjusting the Genre metadata tag. You’ll need to use a program such as dSHARPIE to edit those tags. So, I suggest you use dSHARPIE for editing all of the meta tags, and juse AudioShell just for the cover art.

  4. Steve says:

    What about adding the album art to Podcasts? Have you tried it? My first go at it failed.

  5. zunetips says:

    Steve – Good question. From what I understand, the cover art for Podcasts are treated differently than with standard video files. I’ll have to take a look into it….

  6. Ricky says:

    I use dsharpie for the meta data on the videos. it works great, the zune program just has to resync the video. I have to delete it off my device completly and let it resync. This program is pretty useful with the coverart.

  7. scott says:

    Whenever I try to add cover art to a zune video it keeps saying error and that the video is either in use or it’s write protected.

  8. zunetips says:

    scott: Did you try rebooting your computer? Also, does this happen to all your video files or just specific ones? Make sure you don’t have the Zune software running on your PC when you try this (since it might be trying to sync the file).

  9. sidlipe says:

    Sorrry dude but audioshell does not work with avi files!

  10. zunetips says:

    I never said it would work for avi files, since you can’t sync avi files to the Zune. It will work for WMV files, and possibly MP4 files (I haven’t tried).

  11. Lauren says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this information! I’ve been searching and searching for a way to do this. you are so generous to use your free time to write about this.

  12. zunetips says:

    Lauren: You’re welcome. Since I get a lot of good information from the Internet, I feel it is only right to give back when I can. Hence, this web blog! 🙂

  13. Lauren says:

    actually ive been looking for this program for an AVI file! do you know any programs that do this for an avi movie?! im desperate! please help!

  14. zunetips says:

    I don’t believe it is possible to add cover art to an AVI file, since it doesn’t contain metadata.

  15. Dawnne says:

    I downloaded Audioshell and followed all of the instructions. It doesn’t work at all-forget about even getting to the thumbnail part. Right clicking on the file after installation to go to properties does not change any of the summary page as it says it should-it appears just the same-it is as if you did not even install the program. Did someone do something to the download to make it not work??? Help.

  16. zunetips says:

    Dawnne: It does work, since I use it all the time. Did you try rebooting your PC? What kind of video file are you trying to use it with? It should work with a WMV file.

  17. Dawnne says:

    Right clicking on the WMV file only brings up the same box that would be there if the software wasn’t installed. Properties, etc. look exactly the same. There are no additional tabs. I am only trying to use it with WMV files. My computer was rebooted (more than once) and I am running XP. Something has to be wrong with the software. Re-downloaded it, re-installed it, etc. and it has not changed.

  18. zunetips says:

    Dawnne: Sounds like your installation of AudioShell didn’t work. I’d try installing again and then reboot your system.

  19. Felix C. Arroyo says:

    I really enjoy this shell extension however I’m having a hard time adding cover art for WMV files. It works like a charm for MP4 files but they take way too long to convert from a backed up dvd (3 hrs) vs WMV files which only take me about 45 minutes. Any ideas because it could really save me major time! Thanks again.

  20. zunetips says:

    Felix: So, you’re wanting to add cover art to a WMV file and you can’t do it using the shell extension? Is that the question you’re asking, or am I mistaken?

  21. Felix C. Arroyo says:

    Correct. However I believe I figured out the problem. Looks like I was missing a codec of some kind. after I installed the proper codec ( of hand I dont know what it was) I rebooted and the thumbnail previews were shown Thus the Shell extension recognized the file and allowed me to change it. Weird. I now have the ability to add thumbnails.

  22. new guy says:

    Thanks man, i really just bought a zune and was suprised there wasn’t already a way to do this.

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