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Change Thumbnail on YouTube video

When you upload a video to YouTube a still shot from the video will be used to help promo the video (this is the image used to display on the video before someone presses play). The image which YouTube selects may not be suitable or perhaps you would like to upload a custom image to help promote your video, this guide will walk through the process.

Log into your YouTube account

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On the top right of YouTube you will see the account which is logged in. If you’re not logged in there will be a blue button which says ‘Sign In’, click this and follow the sign in process.

Open the Video Manager section

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Click on the down arrow with the cog, then select ‘Video Manager’

Find the video to edit

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This assumes you have already uploaded the video and are going back to edit.
Click on ‘Edit’

Select Thumbnail to use

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To the right of the video there will be three image thumbnails which you can select from. The selected thumbnail will have a thin grey border. When you move your mouse over the thumbnail a message to ‘Set as thumbnail’ will appear (as shown in the first thumbnail above).
Click on the thumbnail to use, then select ‘Save Changes’

Upload your own thumbnail

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As per Google’s recommendations;

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. Google recommends your custom thumbnails:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (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.

Create the image first in an image editor, then click on ‘Customised thumbnail…’ from the YouTube options to upload. This will open a window to select the image from your computer, follow the steps and click save changes to update the custom thumbnail.

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