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How to use YouTube thumbnails

So you’ve just uploaded a video of yourself to YouTube, but there’s a problem – The still image that YouTube displays before the video begins playing doesn’t look right! What can you do to fix this?

These images are called Thumbnails. When a video is uploaded to YouTube, it needs a picture to represent that video in search results or on your channel window. It will also display this picture as a still frame simply to fill the empty space on the YouTube window before you click the play button.

When a video is uploaded, YouTube will automatically select three frames from your video and use one of those as the default thumbnail. You can change which frame YouTube will use as the thumbnail by going into the Video Manager of your YouTube account, then editing the video settings of the one you want to change.

YouTube Thumbnails

To the left of the video window, you’ll see the three frames YouTube has selected (highlighted in red in the above picture). To change the thumbnail, simply click on one of those three frames and press the Save button.

It’s not possible to control which three frames YouTube allows you to pick from – these are automatically generated for you when the video is uploaded.

If you don’t like any of the three frames YouTube has picked, then you may be able to use the Customised Thumbnail button to upload your own image.
In order to unlock this feature you need to verify your account – details about how to do this are in the help section of your YouTube account controls.

When uploading your own image, it’s best to stick to the following guidelines:

- 1280 × 720 resolution
- JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG image format
- Must be less than 2MB in size
- 16:9 aspect ratio

Once you’ve uploaded your new image, simply press the Save button. Once the changes have been processed then you’ll see the image you uploaded as the thumbnail for that video on your channel and in search results.

Happy YouTubeing!


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