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Add video thumbnails

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 — just select the thumbnail you want to use and click Save changes.

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Add or change video thumbnail

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account. 
  2. Go to Creator Studio > Video Manager.
  3. Next to the video, click Edit.
  4. On the left of the preview screen, choose a thumbnail. 
  5. Click Save changes.

You can also use the Creator Studio app to add thumbnail to a video.

Create custom video thumbnail

If your account is verified or you have live streaming access, you may have the ability to upload custom thumbnails for your video uploads.

New videos

  1. Record or upload your video.
  2. At the end of the video processing stage in the upload interface, you will see an option to choose a Custom thumbnail under the "Video thumbnails" section.

Uploaded videos

  1. Go to Creator Studio > Video Manager.
  2. Next to the video, click Edit.
  3. On the right of the preview screen, click the Custom thumbnail button.
  4. Upload a thumbnail.
  5. Once the thumbnail is uploaded, click Save changes.

Custom thumbnail best practices

Image size & resolution

Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible, as the image will also 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, .BMP, 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. Thumbnails that are sexually suggestive, violent, or graphic may cause your video to be age-restricted. Age-restricted partner videos will not have advertising served against them and will not appear on browse pages.

The ability to upload custom thumbnails may be revoked for creators who consistently use thumbnails that don't follow our guidelines. If your thumbnail privileges have been revoked, we will not be able to restore this privilege.

Find more advanced tips and best practices on creating a compelling thumbnail.
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