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Get images from the iTunes/App/Mac App Stores with Alfred

Several weeks ago, Dr. Drang posted a Python script for getting artwork from the iTunes Store. It uses the iTunes API, which is super handy – I’d never even known it existed. I still rip a fair amount of music from CDs, and having artwork from iTunes is nice. (A script is a better approach than “buy one song from the album, get the artwork”, which is what I used to do.)

Thing is, I do most of my web searches through Alfred. I don’t really want to go out to the command-line for this one task. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could get iTunes artwork through Alfred?

A grey search bar with the query “ipic ios drafts”, and a single result “Get iTunes artwork for ‘ios drafts’”.


Calling a script is a fairly simple Alfred workflow. I created a keyword input for “ipic”, which requires an argument, and then that argument is passed to the “Run Script” action. That action has a single-line Bash script: calling out to Dr. Drang’s script, passing my input as a command-line argument.

A workflow titled “Search the iTunes Search API”. The background is dark grey, and a light grey box “ipic” links to a second box “Run script”.

This works fine with Dr. Drang’s original script.

Unfortunately, Alfred passes the entire search as a single string. Although the original script has flags for filtering by content type (e.g. album, film, TV show), you can’t use that filtering in Alfred – the script only ever sees a single argument.

So I tweaked the script to add a special case for Alfred. When Alfred calls the script, it passes an undocumented --alfred flag. Although docopt is nominally passing the command-line flags, it doesn’t know about this one. Instead, I intercept the flags before docopt sees them, and rearrange them if I detect the script is being called by Alfred:

if sys.argv[1] == '--alfred':
    media_type, search_term = sys.argv[2].split(' ', 1)
    if media_type in ('ios', 'mac', 'album', 'film', 'tv', 'book', 'narration'):
        sys.argv = [sys.argv[0], '--{0}'.format(media_type), search_term]
        sys.argv = [sys.argv[0], sys.argv[2]]

By the time docopt is called, the arguments look as if I called the script from the command-line. It never knows the difference.

This change, along with long-name flags and writing to a tempfile instead of the Desktop, are in my GitHub fork of Dr. Drang’s original script.