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 beta.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Videos.
  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 Upload to upload your video.
  2. In the upload flow, you'll see an option to choose a Custom thumbnail on the 'Basic info' tab.

Live streams

  1. Select Upload and then Go live.
  2. On the 'New stream' screen, select UPLOAD CUSTOM THUMBNAIL.

Uploaded videos

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio beta.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Videos.
  3. Select a video by clicking on its title or thumbnail.
  4. Under 'Thumbnail', select Custom 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.

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 1280x720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, GMP 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. Selecting a thumbnail that shows nudity or sexually provocative content, is considered hate speech, portrays violence, or is considered harmful or dangerous may result in the rejection of your thumbnail and a strike on your account. 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 receive 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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