ListsTips & TricksVideo MarketingYouTubeYouTube MarketingHow to Add or Change Video Thumbnail on YouTube & Pro Tips

Vishal Sharma3 weeks ago

People say the first impression is the last impression. Whether be it buying a product or placing it back on the shelve, packaging always matters. Its the outer image that has the ability to make a bad or good impression of what lies inside. The same implies to videos we watch on OTT, mainly YouTube and that is why we have bought to you a guide on How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube.

We all are well aware of how Youtube creators make videos and finally upload on the platform for their viewers. It takes a hell lot of time to make a quality video script and add breathtaking animations to make it more visually appealing. We often see such videos ending up with fewer views and low engagement rates. But why? The answer lies in a very tiny, yet a significant part of any video marketing – the video thumbnail.

What is a Thumbnail and why is it so important in a video?

Thumbnail is a reduced file size image used as a placeholder for a full-sized multimedia content. In simple words, a thumbnail is a reduced-size version of a video or image, often comparable with the size of a human thumbnail. They are small preview images representing your videos and allow platforms to create smaller & easily viewable pages which in turn give users better control of what exactly they want to see.

The most popular online digital activity, video consumption, is increasing at a dramatical rate and on YouTube, more than two billion users log in every month and over 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute. Imagine how tough and challenging it becomes for YouTube creators to attract viewers’ attention and convince them to watch their videos. YouTube video with a perfect preview image gains more click, views, engagements and new subscribers. It’s like an advertisement to advertise and appeal to viewers.

You probably must have experienced this on YouTube when you are watching a video, and then you see a thumbnail that interests you, which ultimately drives you to click and watch. These small images make all the difference for viewers to decide what to watch and what to skip and at the same time, attract more viewers to your channel and makes your content appealing on YouTube.

While browsing, thumbnails are the first thing viewers see, and if the thumbnail fails to deliver what’s inside the video, viewers tend to leave immediately which limits the discoverability of your video on YouTube. Interestingly, 90% of the top-performing videos on YouTube use custom thumbnails.

It’s a good practice to decide a thumbnail before creating a YouTube video so that you get enough options when you upload the video. After your video is finished uploading, you can choose a thumbnail from the three choices automatically generated by YouTube, or if you have a verified account, you can upload own custom thumbnails. So lets start with our guide on How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube.

How to Change Video Thumbnail on YouTube

    • Sign in to YouTube Studio Beta

YouTube Studio How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube

    • Select “Videos” from the left menu

Video Option to How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube

    • Select a video by clicking on its thumbnail or title

Custom Thumbnail How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube

    • Choose an auto-generated thumbnail and select Save

Creating a custom video thumbnail on YouTube

For new videos
  1. Uploads
    • Click on the upload icon  to upload a video
    • While uploading the video, under the “Basic info” tab, you will have an option to choose a Custom thumbnail.
  2. Live streams
    • Select “UPLOAD CUSTOM THUMBNAIL” on the “New stream” screen after clicking on Go Live
For uploaded videos
  • After selecting a video by clicking on its title or thumbnail, select “Custom thumbnail” to choose the file you wish to set as your custom thumbnail and Save.

Well this marks the end of guide on How to Change Thumbnail on YouTube but the journey is not over yet and we will now discuss some pro tips.

Custom YouTube Video Thumbnail best practices

      1. The first and foremost thing that matters the most is the correct dimension and size of the thumbnail. As per Google’s recommendation, the image should be of high resolution, at least 1280×720 pixels. Some other specifications are:
      • An aspect ratio of 16:9
      • The image must be in JPG, BMP, GIF or PNG format
      • Minimum width of 640 pixels
      • Size must be under 2MB limit
      1. Never use a blurry or distorted image as it won’t set a good expectation from the video and viewers will avoid watching it
      2. Choose a clearer and close-up image instead of an image that’s too small. Remember, your thumbnail appears all over YouTube and on varying size devices. A larger image can be easily scaled down to maintain image quality as compared to a small image
      3. Avoid complex photos, images with small or fine fonts as it becomes very difficult to read when scaled down. If you wish to add text to your thumbnail, make sure to use clear and bold fonts.
      4. Prefer using high contrast images and right color palettes to make it more appealing
      5. Increase the recognition of your thumbnail with a logo in the upper left corner
      6. A thumbnail should actually describe your video. Never use a tricky thumbnail or misrepresent just to gain likes.
      7. Run A/B tests to determine which thumbnail drives more clicks and views to your video

YouTube Video Thumbnail Guidelines

All custom YouTube video thumbnails must abide by YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Thumbnails showing sexually provocative content, nudity, hateful content, violent or dangerous content will be rejected, leading to a strike on your YouTube account. After repetitive offenses, the custom thumbnail privileges will be removed for 30 days and finally, account termination.

After a Community Guidelines strike, you will get an email notification and an alert in “Channel Setting.” If you think your YouTube video thumbnail has not violated any guidelines, you can appeal the strike. If approved, YouTube will restore the thumbnail only if you haven’t applied another thumbnail

For specific search results, YouTube may even disable custom video thumbnail if it’s inappropriate for viewers in accordance with Community Guidelines.


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Vishal Sharma

Vishal is a tech writer for Vidooly and a fan of everything related to Android. He loves exploring the nexus between tech, culture, space, and politics. He lies awake at night pondering over the myriad facets of life while also having an adventurous side to him. In his spare time, he enjoys watching sci-fi and drama series, reading psychology/politics fiction and playing brain games.

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