Video thumbnails

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Video thumbnails let people see a quick snapshot of your video. After your video is finished uploading, you'll be able to choose a thumbnail from the three options that YouTube automatically generates. To select the one you'd like to use, simply click the thumbnail and click Save changes.

Here's how to change a thumbnail at any time:

  1. Go to your channel Video Manager

  2. Click Edit for the corresponding video you'd like to change.

Custom video thumbnails

If your account is verified and in good standing, you may have the ability to upload custom thumbnails for your video uploads.

Uploading custom thumbnails

To upload a custom thumbnail when you upload a video:

  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.
To upload a custom thumbnail for an existing video:
  1. Go to your channel Video Manager.
  2. Locate a video and click the Edit button.
  3. Click the Custom Thumbnail button and upload a thumbnail.
  4. Once the thumbnail has uploaded, don't forget to click the "Save Changes" button.

Custom thumbnail best practices


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 that your custom thumbnails:

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


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 If your thumbnail privileges have been revoked, we will not be able to restore this privilege.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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