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Cover Flow is a 3D virtual environment for displaying graphic elements (see GUI), which became known as navigation for music collections. The covers of the music albums are positioned virtually in a row. Like in a catalogue, you can browse through a music collection with an input device (e.g. with the mouse).

Cover Flow was developed by the company Steel Skies, the latest version of which was available as Beta 1.997. Apple then bought this technology and integrated it into their software. However, Mirror Worlds Technologies Inc. asserted its patent rights and won the case in court on October 5, 2010. On April 4, 2011, this verdict was reversed.

The Cover Flow technology was available in Apple's iTunes version 7.0 (2010) to version 10. In version 11.0 it was completely removed.

In 2007 Apple announced that Cover Flow was integrated into iPod nano 3G, iPod classic and iPod touch. It is included in the iPhone, which has been available in the U.S. since June 2007, as well as in the iPod nano 4th generation (4G) and iPod nano 5th generation (5G).

Since Mac OS X Leopard, Cover Flow has been offered as a folder view, which in combination with the "Quick Look" option allows for the preview of files. In macOS Mojave, a completely different Gallery view feature "replaces" Cover Flow in "Finder".

Cover Flow in Songbird

Cover Flow in Songbird, an extensible, free software to organize and play media. Last stable release: 2013.


The cover flow effect is also supported by other platforms. On Windows and Linux the open source media player Songbird offers a cover flow animation for album selection. For Linux it is possible to switch between different programs in cover-flow style using the composition and window manager Compiz or KDE's KWin (Cover-Switch version 4.1 or higher).