If you’re a content creator on YouTube, you know how important it is to catch your audience’s attention with the perfect thumbnail. A thumbnail is a small, clickable image that represents your video on YouTube. It’s the first thing your audience sees when they browse through your content, and it plays a crucial role in whether or not they decide to click on your video. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about YouTube thumbnail size to ensure that your videos get the attention they deserve.


What is a Youtube Thumbnail?

A YouTube thumbnail is a small image that represents a video and appears next to the video title in YouTube search results, suggested videos, and on the video player itself. It serves as a visual representation of the video and is intended to attract viewers’ attention and encourage them to click on the video to watch it. A good YouTube thumbnail should be eye-catching, informative, and relevant to the content of the video. It should also be optimized for the correct size and aspect ratio to ensure that it displays correctly across all devices and platforms.

Some people are confused between YouTube banners and YouTube thumbnails. A Youtube Banner is an image that appears at the top of a channel’s page, while a YouTube thumbnail is the image that appears as the preview for each individual video on the platform. Banners are larger and provide an opportunity to showcase a brand’s identity, while thumbnails are smaller and need to be attention-grabbing to entice viewers to click on a video.


Why Are YouTube Thumbnails Important?

YouTube thumbnails are critical for several reasons. First, they can help your videos stand out from the millions of other videos on the platform. An attention-grabbing thumbnail can catch viewers’ eyes and make them more likely to click on your video instead of someone else’s.

Second, YouTube uses thumbnails to determine which videos to recommend to users. If your thumbnail is visually appealing and relevant to the video’s content, YouTube’s algorithm is more likely to suggest your video to viewers who are interested in that topic.

Third, YouTube thumbnails can influence how long viewers watch your videos. If your thumbnail accurately represents your video’s content and is visually engaging, viewers are more likely to stick around and watch your video all the way through.

Understanding YouTube Thumbnail Size

YouTube suggests that your thumbnail be 1280 x 720 pixels in size, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. This is known as the 16:9 standard aspect ratio. Keep in mind, however, that YouTube also supports non-standard aspect ratios, such as 1:1 or 4:5, which might be effective for attracting attention on the YouTube mobile app. Finally, the file size should be less than 2 MB.

Image Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
Minimum Image Resolution 640 pixels wide
Aspect ratio (Standard) 16:9
File Size Up to 2 MB
File Format GIF, JPG, PNG

How to Resize Thumbnails for YouTube Videos

Know the requirements

YouTube has specific requirements for thumbnail size, which can vary depending on the device being used to view the video. As a general rule, aim for a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, and try to keep your file size under 2 MB.

Use a design tool

To ensure that your thumbnails look professional and are properly sized, it’s a good idea to use a design tool like Canva or Adobe Photoshop. These tools will allow you to easily resize your images and add text or other elements as needed.

Crop and resize

Once you’ve chosen your image or screenshot, crop it to the appropriate size using a tool like the cropping feature in Photoshop or the Canva design tool. Then, resize the image to fit within the 1280 x 720 pixel requirement.

Consider the aspect ratio

While YouTube’s recommended size for thumbnails is 1280 x 720 pixels, it’s also important to consider the aspect ratio of your image. Ideally, your thumbnail should have an aspect ratio of 16:9, which is the standard for YouTube videos.

Test and optimize

Finally, it’s important to test and optimize your thumbnails over time to ensure that they are performing as well as possible. Try using A/B testing to compare different thumbnail designs, and pay attention to metrics like click-through rate to determine what’s working and what’s not. By following these tips and taking the time to resize and optimize your thumbnails, you can help your videos stand out and attract more viewers on YouTube.

Creating Your YouTube Thumbnail

When creating your YouTube thumbnail, it’s important to keep in mind that it should accurately represent the content of your video. Misleading thumbnails may result in high click-through rates, but they can also lead to a high bounce rate when viewers realize that the content of the video doesn’t match the thumbnail.

You should choose photographs or screenshots from your video that have high quality if you want to produce an eye-catching thumbnail for it. To make your thumbnail stand out even more, you may customize it by adding text or artwork. Make sure that your text can be seen clearly and easily even on screens with a reduced resolution.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating YouTube Thumbnails

1. Using too much text

While it’s important to include a title or other text on your thumbnail, using too much can make it appear cluttered and difficult to read. Try to keep your text brief and to the point, and use bold or contrasting colors to make it stand out.

2. Using low-quality images

A blurry or pixelated thumbnail can be a major turn-off for viewers, and can make your video appear unprofessional. Always use high-quality images or screenshots when creating your thumbnails, and be sure to resize them to fit YouTube’s requirements.

3. Using misleading or clickbait-style thumbnails

While it can be tempting to use flashy or attention-grabbing thumbnails to attract viewers, it’s important to avoid being misleading or deceptive. Using clickbait-style thumbnails that don’t accurately represent the content of your video can harm your reputation and reduce viewer trust over time.

4. Ignoring branding or consistency

If you have a brand or consistent style for your videos, be sure to incorporate it into your thumbnails as well. This can help viewers recognize your videos and increase engagement over time.

5. Forgetting to test or optimize

Finally, it’s important to test and optimize your thumbnails over time to ensure that they are performing as well as possible. Try using A/B testing to compare different thumbnail designs, and pay attention to metrics like click-through rate to determine what’s working and what’s not.

How to Test and Optimize Thumbnail Performance

One of the key aspects of creating an effective thumbnail for your YouTube video is optimizing its performance. This involves testing different thumbnail designs and analyzing the results to determine which one performs best in terms of attracting viewers and driving engagement. Here are some tips on how to test and optimize thumbnail performance:

1. Start with a clear and specific goal

Before you begin testing different thumbnail designs, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind. Do you want to increase click-through rates, views, watch time, or engagement? Having a specific goal will help you measure the success of your tests and make informed decisions about which thumbnails to use.

2. Test one variable at a time

When testing different thumbnails, it’s important to only change one variable at a time. For example, you could test different colors, fonts, or images, but don’t change all three at once. This will help you isolate the effect of each variable and determine which one has the biggest impact on performance.

3. Use A/B testing

A/B testing involves showing two different thumbnails to different segments of your audience and measuring their performance against each other. This can be done using YouTube’s built-in A/B testing feature or by manually creating two versions of your video and tracking their performance separately.

4. Analyze the results

Once you’ve run your tests, it’s important to analyze the results to determine which thumbnail performs best. Look at metrics like click-through rate, views, watch time, and engagement to identify the winner. Keep in mind that a thumbnail that performs well for one video may not work for another, so it’s important to continue testing and optimizing over time.

5. Make data-driven decisions

Based on the results of your tests, make data-driven decisions about which thumbnail to use. Don’t rely on personal preferences or assumptions – let the data guide your decision-making process.


Thumbnail Best Practices

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating your YouTube thumbnail:

1. Keep it Simple

A simple and uncluttered thumbnail is easier for your audience to understand and process. Avoid using too much text or graphics that could overwhelm your audience.

Examples of eye-catching YouTube thumbnails, with bright colors and engaging visuals
Check out this impressive example of YouTube thumbnails that are sure to catch your eye and get more clicks!

2. Be Consistent

Creating a consistent thumbnail style across your videos can help your audience recognize your content more easily. Use similar colors, fonts, and graphics in your thumbnails to create a cohesive brand image.

Examples of consistent YouTube thumbnails with a cohesive design style and branding elements.
Discover the power of consistency when it comes to your YouTube thumbnails.

3. Use High-Quality Images

Blurry or pixelated images can be a turn-off for your audience. Make sure that your images are high-quality and clear.

Examples of high-quality YouTube thumbnails with sharp images and clear text.
Get inspired by these examples of YouTube thumbnails that demonstrate the power of good quality design.

4. Add Contrast

Adding contrast to your thumbnail can help it stand out on the YouTube page. Use bright colors or bold text to catch your audience’s attention.

Examples of YouTube thumbnails with strong contrast between colors and text for maximum visibility.
The right amount of contrast can make all the difference in creating an eye-catching YouTube thumbnail.

5. Follow YouTube’s Guidelines

YouTube has strict guidelines on what is allowed in a thumbnail, such as no misleading or explicit images. Make sure that your thumbnail follows these guidelines to avoid having your video removed.


5 Steps How To Upload a YouTube Thumbnail

Step 1: Open YouTube Studio

Log in to your YouTube account and click on your profile picture in the top right corner. Then, click on the “YouTube Studio” button.

Step 2: Select the video you want to add a thumbnail to

Click on the “Videos” tab on the left sidebar and select the video you want to add a thumbnail to.

Step 3: Click on “Custom thumbnail”

Below the video player, click on the “Custom thumbnail” button. If you haven’t yet verified your account, you’ll be prompted to do so before you can upload a custom thumbnail.

Step 4: Upload your thumbnail

Click on the “Upload thumbnail” button and select the image file you want to use as your thumbnail. You can also drag and drop the image file into the designated area.

Step 5: Adjust and save your thumbnail

After you’ve uploaded your thumbnail, you can use the cropping tool to adjust the thumbnail’s size and position. Once you’re satisfied with the thumbnail, click on the “Save” button.


Final Thoughts

Your YouTube thumbnail plays a crucial role in attracting viewers to your content. By following YouTube’s guidelines and best practices, you can create a thumbnail that accurately represents your video while also catching your audience’s attention. Remember to keep it simple, consistent, and high-quality, and you’ll be sure to see an increase in click-through rates.



Q: Can I change my YouTube thumbnail after uploading my video?
A: Yes, you can change your YouTube thumbnail at any time after uploading your video. Simply go to your video manager and select “Edit” on the video you want to change. Then, select “Custom thumbnail” and upload your new image.

Q: Can I use copyrighted images in my YouTube thumbnail?
A: No, you cannot use copyrighted images in your YouTube thumbnail without permission from the copyright owner. Doing so can result in a copyright strike on your channel.

Q: How can I create a custom thumbnail for my YouTube video?
A: You can create a custom thumbnail for your YouTube video using graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Canva. You can also use YouTube’s built-in thumbnail creator to create a simple thumbnail.

Q: Can my YouTube thumbnail be animated?
A: Yes, your YouTube thumbnail can be animated. However, keep in mind that animation may not be supported on all devices and may increase the file size of your video, which can impact loading times.

Q: Is the thumbnail the only factor that affects my video’s performance?
A: No, the content of the video itself is ultimately what will determine viewer engagement and retention. However, having an attractive and relevant thumbnail can increase the chances of viewers clicking on and watching your video.

Q: How do I change the thumbnail of my video after it has been published?
A: To change the thumbnail of your video, go to your Video Manager, click on the Edit button next to the video you want to update, select the “Custom thumbnail” option, and then upload a new image or select a frame from your video to use as the new thumbnail.

Q: Is there a limit to how many times I can change the thumbnail of my video?
A: No, there is no limit to how many times you can change the thumbnail of your video. However, it’s best to choose a high-quality and relevant thumbnail from the start to avoid confusing your audience with frequent changes.

Written by
Juhyung Lee