The Only Solution to Missing Album Artwork in iPhone Due to Catalina and Big Sur’s


Important: Please note, this post is mainly for people with curated offline music libraries, whose album artwork has largely gone missing due to Apple’s change in the work album artwork is stored and retrieve in the new in macOS Catalina and Big Sur.

The Unreliable macOS

With the removal of iTunes in macOS Catalina, it is no longer possible to reliably maintain a music library with correct album artwork showing, especially if your library has a large percentage of music ripped from CDs (and did not purchase from Apple). Every time you upgrade the operating system (say, from Catalina to Big Sur), or if you decide to wipe and reinstall macOS, when you load your music library for the first time, the new starts a process of populating your music library with album artwork by detecting embedded artwork from your music files.

This process is about as reliable as trying to stop the spread of COVID-19 without masks or vaccines.

The iPhone’s Failure to Load Album Artwork

Very often the process will fail to load all the album artwork. Sometimes it fails to load ANY artwork at all. But the most irritating problem is that even if the album artwork successfully loads in the macOS, it can sometimes go missing when your music library is synced to your iPhone’s This is because, for some weird reason, during the process of loading album artwork, the macOS sometimes deletes the embedded artwork in the first, or first few songs in each album. And for some other weird reason, album artwork will fail to load in the iOS if the first song in the album does not have any embedded artwork.

This all stemmed from the fact that the macOS is a half-baked modified iTunes, while the iOS is really a reskinned Beats Music app. The prior iOS Music codebase which was extremely stable and usable, has been thrown out for the buggy mess that was Beats Music.

Now, maybe the above paragraph has given you a hint of the one and only solution to the problem you are having right now. You are right.


The answer is iTunes.

The Solution, For Now

I have absolutely no idea why people claimed to hate iTunes. Maybe they don’t like to have a bunch of functions inside one single app, or maybe the complaining people are all Windows users, but iTunes was, and still is very mature and stable. If you just use it for your offline Music library, it is leagues more stable than the macOS is today. And given that Apple don’t give a fuck about fixing the macOS since Catalina, I think the plan is that they will rather inconvenient users with offline music libraries in the hope of driving them to pay for Apple Music subscriptions.

Screenshot 2021-02-27 at 8.01.07 PM

You cannot download iTunes for Catalina or Big Sur. For that you need Retroactive. You can read about Retroactive here and here, but basically by now it is quite stable and has a relatively big pool of users.

How to Restore Your Album Artwork to iOS Devices

The steps to getting your album artwork back on your iPhone are to;

  1. Install Retroactive
  2. Use Retroactive to install iTunes 12.9.5
  3. Hopefully, you still have your iTunes library file lying somewhere in your disk. If not, just open, and drag everything into iTunes, creating a new iTunes library file.
  4. If your music files still have album artwork embedded in them, all the artwork will load. If there are missing album artwork (due to the deleting a bunch), fix them.
  5. Sync your iPhone (using Finder/iTunes). Uncheck all music in the music sync settings so that your current music library in your iPhone is deleted once. Then click sync.
  6. Sync your iPhone again, this time using only iTunes. Recheck all the music you want to sync back in. If you have a large library, try syncing a few artists first.
  7. Check that everything is working now, then continue to sync all the remaining artists you want.
  8. Enjoy!

Step 5 is important because if you just sync with iTunes on the same settings for music you had on Finder, nothing will change as only music files that had been modified will sync over.

Syncing with iTunes will not create a new backup, both iTunes and the Finder are just an interface to access the system’s syncing feature. If you ask me syncing on iTunes is more clearcut and obvious than syncing on the Finder.

At least for now, iTunes syncing will be the only solution for this massive artwork problem, until Apple decides to fix the problem. To make that happen, file a bug with Apple. If enough people make noise Apple will likely nudge and fix the missing album artwork issue.

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Present Ideas (Apple Edition)

Valentines Day is the day you show your significant other that he or she is special. While expensive presents will definitely do, limited edition items can make better presents simply due to the item being only available at a particular period in time.

If you have yet to prepare your present for this Sunday, these three Apple items are worth serious consideration. With Chinese New Year coming up logistically speaking you only have to tonight or tomorrow to buy your present, so there is no time to waste.

The Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity


Apple’s second ever limited edition Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity.

It is only available for this month (February 2021).

If you have the budget, this is the one item to buy your loved one. They are available at the same prices as the normal Series 6, starting at 599SGD, in both sizes and in GPS and GPS+Cellular variants

Stock Status:

Not all models are in stock.

All 40mm models are in stock at all Apple Stores.

However, 44mm GPS models, arguably the most popular model, are only in stock at Apple Marina Bay Sands. 44mm GPS+Cellular models are in stock in all Apple Stores.

The Black Unity Sport Band


The Sport Band is available without the watch as well, if your loved one already has an Apple Watch and are unlikely to appreciate another one. Everyone can appreciate more watch bands, however. Unlike the watch the Black Unity Sport Band, while limited, will be available for the rest of 2021 while stock last. Available for the usual 69SGD.

Stock Status:

It is in stock at all three Apple Stores.

The Limited Edition AirPods Pro – Ox

Screenshot 2021-02-10 at 5.08.42 PM

These are the regular AirPods Pro with a Ox laser engraving on the wireless case. As it is a Chinese New Year model, it is likely to be available only while stocks last.

Stock Status:

It is in stock at all three Apple Stores.

Valentines Day Presents on the Cheap

If your valentine can wait to receive his or her present from overseas, then these deals are definitely worth it as you will be able to save a bunch of money.

The AirPods Pro

Now available at 189USD

Beats Flex

Now available at 40USD

For more gift ideas, check out my previous Christmas Gift Guide.

The One Solution to Facebook’s Tracking Fiasco and Their “War” on Apple


If you are confused by the recent barrage of news about Facebook’s displeasure with Apple’s change in tracking policy, and wonder how it will affect you, don’t be.

There is really no need to go into the details. After following these simple steps, you no longer need to bother yourself reading another article covering Facebook’s displeasure.

  1. Make sure you are on iOS 14.4
  2. Go to the settings app
  3. Tap on privacy
  4. Tap on Tracking
  5. Make sure that “Allow Apps to Request to Track” is unchecked/off

There! You are done! Check the image link above for a visual guide if you cannot follow the above instructions.

Pass these instructions to a friend who is equally confused about the Facebook complaints as you are, and they too will be relieved of further worries.

First look at the AirPods Max


They are now available for trying at the various Apple stores in Singapore, in case you are living in a well. Here’s a look at the Space Grey and Green Pairs


No review, because I did not test them out (I value personal hygiene a lot especially during these times). Hopefully someone I trust will buy a pair eventually for me to test them out with separate earcups.

I said first look, not first listen, didn’t I?

If you want to order a pair, Amazon US has silver ones for next week (February 10) shipping right now. Or if you rather have the same features in a much more portable form factor, the AirPods Pro are now 199USD.

Beats Flex is now 20% off!

Beats Flex, the cheapest Beats wireless IEMs, are now even cheaper with them being 10USD off their usual 50USD pricing at Amazon US.

New Blue and Grey colours were just released weeks ago, and if you don’t have a huge budget but want to get your loved one some wireless headphones for his or her iPhone this is the best deal available now.

iOS 14.5 adds support for unlocking your iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask (by 9to5Mac)


This is literally a tier one reason to buy an Apple Watch Series 6 this year.

Speaking of which, a limited edition Apple Watch was just released.

The Black Unity Limited Edition Apple Watch is Now Available


The Black Unity Apple Watch is only available this month, February 2021. It will start at 599SGD, just like all the other Series 6 Apple Watches.

The Black Unity Sport Band will be available until the end of 2021. It will cost 69SGD.

Read about the introduction here.

The iPad Pro/Air Magic Keyboard is 33% off!

One of the perks of getting the iPad Pro or the 4th generation iPad Air is the ability to use a first party Apple keyboard+trackpad accessory with your iPad.

The Apple Magic Keyboard (for iPad Air and iPad Pro 11”), unlike Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folios, provide a all-in-one form factor to use the full mouse trackpad functionality that debuted in iPad OS 13.4 without a separate bluetooth mouse.

Third party options, usually from Logitech, while usable are usually clunky and inelegant. They also have bad reviews about their reliability and ability to stand the passage of time.

The biggest complaint of the Magic Keyboard has to be its price, which at 439SGD, is almost the price of a brand new 8th generation iPad.

However, now it is available at Amazon US, for a limited time, at the low price of 199USD (roughly 264SGD), representing a saving of 175SGD.

It is unlikely to stay at this pricing for now, so anyone interested should snag one immediately before it is too late.

Tweetbot 6 has Gone Subscription, Here are Two Alternatives

Dead bird in Bucharest
Dead Bird Pic by Tiia Monto, Creative Commons.

Tweetbot 6 has just been released and it has adopted the dreaded subscription pricing structure. It now cost 6 USD per year to use.

My previous article (iOS apps have to stop going subscription)’s praise for Tweetbot is no longer valid.

There are almost no new features in Tweetbot 6 worth paying for. It is therefore not a good idea to pay for the subscription just yet. Like all previous versions of Tweetbot, Tweetbot 5 is still available in the purchased apps section of the App Store, and is modernized enough that it will probably work for many more years (Tweetbot 3 still works, apparently).

To express your displeasure, download Tweetbot 6 to rate it one star.

If you have not bought Tweetbot 5 and are looking for alternatives that do not involve subscription pricing, Aviary and Fenix are two good Twitter apps.

Apple Announces Black Unity Limited Edition Apple Watch


Well, this really came out of nowhere.

This is Apple’s first limited edition Apple Watch since the NikeLab Series 2 Apple Watch with the Light Bone/Black Nike Sport Band.


The watch itself looks like the usual Series 6 Space Grey Aluminium watch with special engraving on the ceramic back, and will only be available in February, while the Black Unity Sport Band will also be available separately throughout 2021 if you don’t buy the watch. It is likely that the packaging (boxes) will be different from the usual white (or nike black) ones, which will be of interest to collectors.

The Black Unity Sport Band is created in the same way that the 2020 Pride band was created, by fusing two different band colours into one single band. Seems like more bands created with this technique will be coming out in the future.

“Limited edition” is extremely tempting, but I really do not need another Apple Watch (and I am out of work). Maybe I will just fork out money for the band. We will see.

They will go on sale from February 1st.


MacRyu is the Mac Blog by Singaporeans and for Singaporeans. It was started in April 2007 as a side project of the then President of the Official Mac User Group of NUS, Ryu, and grew to become possibly one of the most popular Apple-related sites based in Singapore. MacRyu hopes to provide you with more Mac-related info, thoughts and stuff, from the Singaporean perspective.

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