Add video thumbnails

To add thumbnails on mobile, use the YouTube Studio app.

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

Add or change a video thumbnail

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Content.
  3. Select a video by clicking on its title or thumbnail.
  4. Choose an auto-generated thumbnail and select Save.

Create a custom video thumbnail

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

New videos

Uploads

  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 UPLOAD CUSTOM THUMBNAIL

Uploaded videos

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Content.
  3. Select a video by clicking on its title or thumbnail.
  4. Under 'Thumbnail', select Upload thumbnail.
  5. Choose the file that you'd like to use as your custom thumbnail.
  6. Select Save.

Once you've added a custom thumbnail, hover over 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. 

How to Add Custom Thumbnails to Your YouTube Videos

Custom thumbnail best practices

Get tips on making effective thumbnails and avoiding clickbait.

Image size and 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 that your custom thumbnails:

  • Have a resolution of 1280 x 720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF 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.

Thumbnail policies

All custom thumbnail images must follow our Community Guidelines. Your thumbnails may be rejected and a strike placed on your account when it contains:
  • Nudity or sexually provocative content
  • Hate speech
  • Violence
  • Harmful or dangerous content
Repeat offences may lead to the removal of your custom thumbnail privileges for 30 days and, ultimately, 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 that you sign in to YouTube. You can appeal the strike if you think that 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.

Why have my custom thumbnails been disabled?

YouTube may disable 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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