I wrote a post over a year ago explaining how to get album art to display correctly in the CMS system in the Mk7 Golf. While it worked for most of my music, and most other people’s, it wasn’t entirely foolproof and I couldn’t work out why. It turns out that iTunes may well be sabotaging your album art behind your back.

VW Golf Mk7 – SD Cards and Album Art (Pt. II)

Written by Haydn Williams

I wrote a post over a year ago explaining how to get album art to display correctly in the CMS system in the Mk7 Golf. While it worked for most of my music, and most other people’s, it wasn’t entirely foolproof and I couldn’t work out why. I have, however, now figured out exactly how to do it for every single MP3 file I own. Hoorah!

These instructions should be taken as replacing those given in my original post. They assume that you’re using iTunes to manage your music, which proves to be a crucial point. They do also require use of both a Mac and a PC, so any suggestions for platform-specific ways of doing things are welcomed.

The Golf CMS cannot display PNGs, so if any of your embedded art is in PNG format then you’re in trouble. IMPORTANT: iTunes now converts all embedded album art to PNG format, so even if you drop a .jpg file into the ‘Get Info‘ screen in iTunes, then it will automatically change it to PNG format.

This has been happening since May 2011, so all album art you’ve added since then probably won’t show up in your Golf’s CMS display. Great!

To remedy this, you’ll need to replace the PNG format art with a JPG version. Fortunately, I have a file called ‘folder.jpg’ in each of my album directories. If you don’t have JPG format album art to hand then you might have a lot of work to do collecting it all again. The steps below describe how I got my iTunes music into the appropriate format on an SD card for the Golf.

1) Copy all of your music into a separate directory. We’re going to mess around with these files, so working on new copies will ensure we don’t mess up our main iTunes library. The Golf CMS can only handle a maximum of 1,000 directories so if you’ve any more then now might be a good time to re-arrange them so that no single directory has more than 1,000 subdirectories.

2) Rename the files to take out all special characters from file names (i.e. the ones that the Golf doesn’t like). To do this on a Mac I used A Better Finder Rename, which cost me a bit of money but took about ten seconds. I did investigate a number of other options such as regex expressions in sed, but ABFR was so quick and easy I don’t regret it for a second. I used the “Advanced & Special” > “Replace Regular Expression” option, and the regex I used was:

Removing special characters from file names in A Better Finder Renamer.
Removing special characters from file names in A Better Finder Renamer.

3) Now we need to replace the iTunes-embedded album art (which is in PNG format) with our own JPG format art. You do have the choice of replacing all of your album art (the paranoid option), or just the PNG ones. If you do want to identify the ones with PNG artwork first then on a Mac you can use the script available from Doug’s Applescripts for iTunes (which I’d encourage you to donate for if you find it useful). Obviously we can’t use iTunes to put in our new album art, so we’ll have to find something else instead. I used Mp3Tag on Windows, because it has an option (in the “Actions” menu) to traverse an entire directory structure, and insert album art with a standard name. I mentioned above that all my directories have a file called ‘folder.jpg’, and so this worked really well for me. Obviously your mileage may vary if you haven’t got a standard album art file in each directory.

Using the "Actions" feature in MP3Tag to add 'folder.jpg' to each file in every directory.
Using the “Actions” feature in MP3Tag to add ‘folder.jpg’ to each file in every directory.

4) The Golf CMS objects to really massive album art, so to resize to something more appropriate I used Sanse MP3 Art Resizer as described in my previous post. I went for 400 px by 400 px, which seems to have worked nicely.

5) Now you’ve done that, you can just delete the awkward hidden and ancillary files from the card, so they don’t confuse the Golf CMS. Again, the commands from my previous post apply:

Mac: find -type f -name "folder.jpg" -delete
Windows: del /s /q /f folder.jpg

The above process has worked perfectly on all of my files – I’m yet to find a single one which it failed for. Hopefully it will work for you too!

42 thoughts on “VW Golf Mk7 – SD Cards and Album Art (Pt. II)

  1. Martin Allan says:

    Thanks for the instructions. You talk about having a folder.jpeg in each directory. I take it this means each artist needs such a folder. Additionally if an artist has several albums, does this mean I need to create a jpeg folder in each album after the track listing?

    • Hi Martin. In my setup, each artist has their own folder; there is no jpg here. Within each artist’s folder is a sub-folder for each album; each album sub-folder *does* have a jpg file. Hope that makes sense.

  2. Pieter says:

    My golf does’t read my 32GB sd card when it is formatted in exfat or ntfs, only fat32 works, ideas?

    • Rob Burton says:

      Hi Pieter. That might depend on the type and speed rating of the SD card?

      Original “SD” cards go up to 32 GB capacity, “SDHC” have higher capacity and are general faster, and the latest “SDXC” are faster still and have the highest capacities; but not all devices are compatible with all cards.

      You will also see a speed rating (a number in a circle) on the card. I’m using a Sandisk 16 GB SDHC card (logos SDHC I and (4) speed), which has been fine for me. The file system type is reported as “msdos” on my Linux laptop, which I guess means “fat32”.

      There are also limitations to the size of devices formatted to a certain file system. Unfortunately, my second hand Golf Mk7 didn’t come with a radio manual, so I’m unable to confirm what it does and doesn’t support.


  3. Hendrik Siera says:

    Congratulations for your explanation. Impressive! Unfortunately it seems to complex for me to perform all the actions needed to correct my huge iTunes library. I hope one day VW will allow both PNG and JPG to show up on the screen. As iTunes is used worldwide, I cannot understand that these German engineers wrote this incomplete software.

    • I agree Hendrik – it definitely seems like there is potential for an upgrade. Another prominent omission is the fact that contact photos do not transfer to the Golf stereo. I wonder if perhaps these head units will suffer from a lack of development because VW anticipate a move to CarPlay and similar systems.

  4. Dave says:

    I presume this doesn’t apply to iPods or does it? Does the red collar lead cure this anomaly?

    • Hi – I’m not sure about iPods. I’ve only ever tried it with an iPhone I’m afraid. If you want a red-collar lead then eBay seems to be the place to go (they’re often labelled as such in the title). A VW main dealer could probably get you one at an inflated price, relative to eBay!

      • jamie foster says:

        does the red collar lead solve the problem?

        • As far as I’m aware, it’s impossible to get album art without the red collar lead BUT having the red collar lead doesn’t guarantee you’ll get album art (you still need to embed it in the files in the correct format).

    • Good suggestion – I’ve updated the link. Thanks.

  5. JAF says:

    For those using Windows, at the file renaming stage of this process, I can recommend the use of WildRename.

    Very powerful tool, and even lets you perform a simulated run to see what’s changed before you actually commit to making any changes.

  6. Frank says:

    I noticed that nobody responded to Pieter. I have the same problem. My 2015 Golf TSI will not read my 32 GB SD HC card when fomatted exFAT, only FAT 32.

    With a FAT 32 formatted card, the Golf would read all the invisible .* files and after I deleted them, leaving the mp3 files in place, it could not read the card. My issue is not with the art but with the sound. If Pieter found an answer, I hope he can share it.

  7. Bernie says:

    Thank you for your instructions, I now have hundreds of albums all tagged perfectly, except that some artwork doesn’t show. I have resized them all to 400 x 400, but I suspect that there also is a limit to the file size. I think this may be around 200Kb.
    Any thoughts?


  8. John D says:

    This worked really well for all my MP3 files but I have a lot of MP4 sonsg. Do I convert them all to MP3? or is there an MP4 art sizer equivalent?

  9. Niels says:

    Absolutely great post, many thanks to you for taking the time to write this down for fellow Golf 7 owners.
    I am struggling with the order of songs on an album. The software in my Golf only plays the songs in each folder alphabetically.
    Is there any workaround for this?

    • Hi Niels. All of my files are named with the track number at the beginning, e.g “01 – The Song.mp3”, “02 – Another song.mp3”. As far as I’m aware the Golf will just play them in that order – I don’t think it respects the track number metadata I’m afraid. Sorry!

    • Rob Burton says:

      You have to name the actual files so they sort alpha-numerically in the order you want. As Haydn says:
      01, 02, 03…09, 10, 11…etc.


      That order is respected as the default by my Golf Mk7, wife’s Audi Q3 and both Windows and Linux PCs.

      I layout my SD card and laptop HDD in a tree with artist name folders as the main trunk. Within each artist folder, I create a folder for each album name prefixed by the year it was released. Within each album folder, I have the files prefixed 01, 02, 03, etc. Always worked perfectly for me that way.

  10. Rob Burton says:

    Hi Haydn

    Many thanks for taking the time to put both your original and this updated post together. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been messing around trying to resolve problems with album art on my Mk7 Golf. I have found a few other things out by trial-and-error, and from other websites; some of them work, others don’t. However, with the help of your guidance, I’ve now removed all my in-folder album art, as that might have been conflicting.

    I’m slightly different, in that I am using .m4a instead of .mp3. I’ve re-extracted audio files from my CDs many times over the past 18 years in different formats and qualities, as codecs have improved and better ones become available. I used to used EZ CD-DA Extractor on Windows way back, which was a nice front-end for LAME on Windows. Then I switched to iTunes on Windows for many years, during which period I switched from MP3 to M4A, as the sound quality is far superior and the file sizes are smaller. I’ve now ditched Windows and use Linux Mint with a variety of open-source tools.

    I recently discovered advice that the mp3/m4a standards for included album art support many different file sizes, but not all devices support the larger images. Several websites recommend the use of 300×300 pixel JPG files with a “.jpeg” extension. I’ve added these to some of my files via an open-source Linux application called “puddletag”, and had some success with files which didn’t show album art previously. I’ve also had success by extracting new .m4a files and adding the album art during extraction process via the “fre:AC” application (available for Windows and Linux).

    My quest continues, but your post has been a great help! Many thanks!

  11. Alex says:

    The Tool Tag&Rename is quite useful. It can resize the embedded covers from mp3 and m4a files. My discover media can now display all covers.

  12. Chris says:

    im struggeling with the restrictions in the structure of the directories in the SD-card. I have approx 24k Songs. I don’ t get them all recognised by my Discover Pro. Is 1000 the limit for the total number of directories on the SD-card? I have them currently organized by artist and then one subdirectory for each album. There are less then 1000 artistes …

    • I don’t think so – as far as I’m aware it should just be a restriction on the number of sub-directories within any one directory.

    • Tre says:

      Hi Chris,

      did you sort it out ? I’m having the exact same issue.
      Less than 1000 artists but not all are seen by the Discover Pro while they are spread across different folders

      • Jason says:

        Same here. So frustrating. It’s alphabetically reading about 310 artist folders and total 1560 directories including subfolders. Total of about 14600 files at 93gb. The 256gb sdxc card is exFAT formatted. Might try reformatting to NTFS to see if that makes a difference.

        • Gideon Overhead says:

          Hi, I’m having the same exact problem. I have a 128GB SDXC card have organised it exactly the same as Jason. I have a Discover Pro. I’ve tried Exfat and NTFS. Its not that. My files were a mix of mp3 and aac at various bitrates. I even converted the whole lot to the standard itunes 128KB rate. Then copied it back to the NTFS card. Removed all invisibles. This time it cuts off at P. Before it went further than that. I’m going to try and copy all 24000 files to the root avoiding any folders and see what happens. I’ve reset the media system each time before inserting the SD card. Frustrating!

        • Christian says:

          Hi Jason,
          I have a golf VII my 2017 and again the same limit.
          According to VW manual:
          10000 files limitation for each media,
          1000 files/folder limitation for each directory’s level.
          1000 entries limitation in the playlist file.

          Googoling i found that it might be solved by partitioning SD card into 2, so the unit can recognize 2 SD cards instead of one…
          I’ve tried partitioning with linux (Windows cannot) and none of this works!
          My plan now is to enable the engineering menu by VCDS and looking for some item regarding the file reading limitation.
          Anyway it could be usefull to know that:
          10k songs in Sd1,
          10k songs in Sd2,
          10ksongs in HDD (USB port),
          we got 30000 songs :)… that is not too bad!

  13. Tre says:

    It also seem the label of the card needs to be changed for the “new card” to be scanned again.
    Is it the same for you ?

  14. Hi,

    Not sure if i can post here as the writer of and all in one tool that converts your FLAC to MP3 and it’s totally compatible with the golf dash / artwork settings etc. Just set your artwork size to 400 pixels x 400 pixels.

    I do own a 2013 Golf and had the same issues as everyone else.

    There’s an MP3 recoding version coming shortly too..

    Anyway trial version here :


    Take a look…

  15. Al says:

    Might be of use………
    Golf Mk7 Match Edition – Discover Navigation System. Tried to use my existing iTunes to get music with cover art onto SD card- a nightmare!
    Decided to start from scratch ripping CD’s using a free download from Sony called ” Media Go” (http://mediago.sony.com/enu/download) and this worked a treat. It’s a Windows only program, fast and very easy to get to grips with.
    Album art is either automatically added via Gracenote or you can hunt for a clip on the Web & add that. If nothing found, photograph your CD cover and add that. Remember to make any album art a maximum of 400×400 pixels. To add art just: right click on an album then “Properties” to get to the Add Art function. If you have a compilation CD and want to add the cover art to all the individual tracks click on “set as default” / “apply” / “ok” and its done!
    You can define, in setup, where Media Go saves everything to. In respect of how it organises folders: multiple albums by an artist go into the same folder and compilation albums go automatically into a folder “various” sorted by album name.
    Hope this of use to someone – happy motoring!

  16. microkid says:

    Thanks for this topic. Based on the info here and in other topics too, I managed to get my Composition Media in my Golf Sportsvan (april 2016) to display the album art correctly. I use iTunes to manage my mp3 collection. If you let iTunes select the album art, it will select an image of approx 600×600 which will not display on the CM. I therefore changed all album art with new images (get info > artwork > add artwork). I chose for JPG images with an 500×500 resolution and <200Kb size. Placed a "folder.jpg" in every folder (also for future use). Don't know if iTunes converts these JPG image to PNG, but they do show up fine. It might also be a newer firmware on the CM that allows PNG to be displayed, no idea? By doing so, all images are displayed correctly now. Ok, it took me one evening, but it's worth it :) When adding new albums to iTunes, I now add the album art manually, so it will be ready for use in the Golf.

  17. Ugo says:

    Hi Haydn and all,
    I’ve been using my SD card for some months now to play songs and playlists on my VW Golf MK7, enjoying every minute, until…
    …the last time I added new mp3 files into already existing playlists I must have done something wrong, because those modified playlists are now unplayable as if they were not made of mp3 files even if they actually are, since the very same new mp3 files are regularly playable when selected from their folders.
    To cut it short: the old playlists work fine, the old modified playlists don’t but the new mp3 files are regularly playable if selected.
    Don’t know what to do, please help :)

  18. Tim Waizenegger says:

    Thanks for the post Haydn! I was having the same problem with my Golf here in Germany :)

    I wrote a small python program (runs on all platforms) to resize the JPGs inside the MP3s to 400×400 pixels. In case you’re interested, it’s on github:



    • Looks great Tim, I’ll give it a try next time I’m updating my SD card!

    • Hi Dan. Looks good, thanks for a comprehensive list. I’ll have to take a look at Bliss soon.

  19. Matt says:

    Hi Haydn,

    First off, thanks for posting this guide, I’ve referred to it many times when setting up my SD Cards. I’ve encountered a problem that someone might have an answer for here.

    Started out with a 32gb SDHC card. Works exactly like its supposed to, great! I decided to move up to a 64gb SDXC card now, and it’s not working, for whatever reason.

    The manual states it will take an SDXC card with EXFAT or NTFS. I tried formatting them as both, but the system will not read the card at all. I am using a Lexar card, This one to be exact. http://www.lexar.com/products/memory-cards/sd/Lexar-Platinum-II-300x-SDHC-SDXC-UHS-I.html

    Should I be looking for a different type of SDXC card?


  20. Strawbs says:

    H fella, Just so you know, your instructions are still useful today. Many thanks for taking the time to write it.

  21. Mike M says:

    Ditto, this was a great help to me. I’m wondering also if you have suggestions for the playlist (M3U format) construction, for folder structure and path names in the playlist.

    Some have said that creating a folder named “Music” at the root level of the SD card, with all artist folders inside it, is best. Others have all artist folders at the root level of the SD card.

    There also seems to be disagreement whether the path names in the playlist file need to have forward “/” or backward “\” slashes.

    I have yet to find a playlist syntax that does not result in “No Playable Files Found” on the display when the playlist is selected. Any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated greatly!

  22. A VW man says:

    Top man. Very clear instructions.
    Cheers dude.

  23. Dan says:

    Hey, I’m surprised there’s no mention of the irritating issue where the Fender 2015 VW Golf head cuts off the very beginnings and endings of songs. I came up with a workaround for the issue, if you add 1 second of silence to the beginning of songs and 8 seconds to the end with ffmpeg, it works properly.

    I posted some steps here:

No Comments