Add video thumbnails on YouTube

Video thumbnails let viewers see a quick snapshot of your video as they're browsing YouTube. After your video is finished uploading, you can choose a thumbnail from the three options YouTube automatically generates, or upload your own if your account is verified.

You can also add thumbnails in the YouTube Studio app on your mobile device.

Add or change a video thumbnail

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left menu, select Content.
  3. Select a video by clicking its thumbnail.
  4. Choose an auto-generated thumbnail and select Save
Note: It may take time for your thumbnail changes to appear on YouTube.

Create a custom video thumbnail

To upload custom thumbnails on YouTube, you must have a verified account.

New videos


  1. Select CREATE  to upload your video.
  2. Under “Thumbnail”, select Upload thumbnail.

Live streams

  1. Select CREATE  and then Go live.
  2. On the “Stream” screen, select  Change THUMBNAIL.

Uploaded videos

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left menu, select Content.
  3. Select a video by clicking its thumbnail.
  4. Under “Thumbnail”, select Upload thumbnail.
  5. Choose the file you’d like to use as your custom thumbnail.
  6. Select Save.

Once you've added a custom thumbnail, point to it and click More  to download or edit the thumbnail.

Watch how to add a custom video thumbnail

Watch the following video from the YouTube Creators channel if you’d like a tutorial on how to add a custom video thumbnail on YouTube.

How to Add Custom Thumbnails to Your YouTube Videos

Custom thumbnail best practices


Image size & resolution

Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible. It will be used as the preview image in the embedded player. We recommend your custom thumbnails:

  • Have a resolution of 1280x720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.
  • Remain under the 2MB limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it's the most used in YouTube players and previews.

Thumbnail policies

All custom thumbnail images must follow our Community Guidelines. Your thumbnails may be rejected and a strike on your account when it contains:
  • Nudity or sexually provocative content
  • Hate Speech
  • Violence
  • Harmful or dangerous content
Repeat offenses may lead to the removal of your custom thumbnail privileges for 30 days or even account termination. Learn more about Community Guidelines strikes.
If a strike is issued, you'll get an email and see an alert in your Channel Settings the next time you sign in to YouTube. You can appeal the strike if you think your thumbnails don’t violate the YouTube Community Guidelines. If your appeal is approved and you haven’t already replaced the thumbnail, we may restore it.

Custom thumbnail limits

There's a limit to how many custom thumbnails a channel can upload each day. If you get an error saying “Daily custom thumbnail limit reached” when trying to upload a thumbnail, try again in 24 hours. 
Limits may vary by country/region or channel history. Copyright strikes may impact channel history eligibility. Community Guidelines strikes will affect how many custom thumbnails you can upload.

Why are my custom thumbnails turned off?

YouTube may turn off custom thumbnails for certain search results when they're considered inappropriate for viewers.
All custom thumbnail images must follow our Community Guidelines.
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