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How To Add Custom Thumbnails to Your YouTube Videos

Sep 28, 2020• Proven solutions

YouTube custom thumbnails are a great way to get people's attention to your YouTube video. It's a pretty simple process but if you are wondering how to create a thumbnail and add the thumbnail to YouTube video and customize it with the correct size. You have come to the right place. While in this article, I will show you how to create and add a thumbnail to a YouTube video and how to customize the YouTube video thumbnail. Follow these easy steps below and add eyecatching customed thumbnails to your YouTube videos in no time.


How To Add Custom Thumbnails to Your YouTube Videos [Steps, Tools and Tips]

We have just made a video tutorial about how to make a YouTube video thumbnail, check it below to find out the tips and tricks of making customized YouTube thumbnail.

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Part 1: How to Make a Thumbnail for YouTube and Add Custom Thumbnails to YouTube

After you've verified your account and made your thumbnail, it's finally time to upload it to your video and make a custom thumbnail. To do this, go to Creator Studio and then Video Manager. You'll see a button labeled "Edit" next to each video, and an arrow pointing down. Click Thumbnail Editor.

In Thumbnail Editor, you can use the still images in the video as a thumbnail, choose a solid background color for the thumbnail, or add other images from your computer. I will show you the steps of how to customize the video still as a video thumbnail.

1. Preview the video and choose the target video still. You can click the Playback button and check the video and pause it at the desired frame. Or, you can step through each frame by clicking the Preview Frame button and Next Frame icon. Click Next to continue.

YouTube Thumbnail

2. And now, you can add text, image and shape overlays to the thumbnail. You can change the text font, size, opacity and more.

YouTube Thumbnail

3. Click Next to save the thumbnail and you will see how the thumbnail displays on different platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Click Save to save the video thumbnail.

In this way, you can add a custom thumbnail to the new videos and change the video thumbnail of the previously uploaded videos.

Part 2: Thumbnail Makers to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails

Of course, you can use some of the best tools to make a YouTube video thumbnail. In this part, we will show you some of the best tools to create custom YouTube thumbnails.

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1. Create YouTube Thumbnail with Online solution - Canva

Canva is a free, powerful online image editing program with tons of great templates to get you started. One of their templates just happens to be YouTube thumbnails. Open Canva and select the "YouTube Thumbnail" design type. Use your own photo or choose from a huge library, then add text and effects to really make it stand out. Save and share — easy as that.

Check this video tutorial to see how to Make a Youtube Thumbnail using Canva.

You may also like: Best online Photo Editor

2. Design YouTube thumbnail with a Desktop solution - Gimp

Gimp is one of the most popular image editing programs around for one very simple reason: it's powerful and free! Where Canva uses a lot of templates, Gimp gives you absolute, full control over how you want your image to look. Make a 1280x720 image and start putting together your eye-catching thumbnail exactly how you want to.

Check this video tutorial to see how to make professional Thumbnails for YouTube Videos with Gimp:

Part 3: How to Change A Thumbnail On YouTube

Note: YouTube allows verified YouTube accounts (accounts that provided YouTube with a working phone number) to upload custom thumbnail images and change them accordingly.

In this part, we’ll be going over how to change a thumbnail image on YouTube. There are pictures to make it easy to follow along.

    • After signing into YouTube with your Google account, click on your profile on the top right corner. Click on YouTube Studio from the drop-down menu.

 YouTube Studio button

    • On the left side of the page, click on Videos and then find your video and click on the details button.

Change YouTube Video Info

  • Find the Thumbnail section in the basic video details tab, and then click the Upload thumbnail to select the image that you want to upload.
  • Finally, click on the Save button on the right upper corner. And just like that, in seven easy steps, we’re done changing the thumbnail of a YouTube video.

Change YouTube Video Thumbnail

If you don't have an image to upload but you want to check out some online resources to make your own, check out our Top YouTube Thumbnail Makers.

Part 4: Things You Need to Know Before Making a Custom Thumbnail

  • About the proper YouTube video thumbnail size: Your thumbnail should be 1280x720 pixels in size and be less than 2MB. The minimum width of the image is 640 pixels.
  • About the YouTube Image thumbnail format: Use .JPG, .PNG, .GIF or .BMP files for your thumbnail image.
  • You'll want your thumbnails to stand out. Bright colored text is a simple, easy way to draw people's attention. Red, white, yellow, or orange are all popular choices.
  • You can even do a little homework to see what colors others are using for similar videos to yours, and then choose different colors to stand out.

One word of warning: your thumbnail should be related to the content of your video. Misleading thumbnail images, if reported, will reflect poorly on your channel. You'll get a negative rating in the community status part of your channel. This can actually remove your ability to use custom thumbnails, so keep it honest!

You may also like: How to Make YouTube Channel Art

To make a creative YouTube video, you may also need a powerful video editing software. Check how to edit a YouTube video in Filmora9 video editor and download it to try.

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You may also like: Best video editing software for YouTube

Part 5: Tips on How to Make Good YouTube Thumbnails - Get More Clicks

The thumbnails of your videos play a huge role in convincing people to watch them; a good YouTube thumbnail will get you more views and more potential subscribers. This part will give you 6 tips on creating thumbnails that help grow your channel.

1. Stay On Topic

Your thumbnail should tell a story; it should be clear from looking at it what viewers will get out of watching the video, be it knowledge or entertainment. If your thumbnail sets expectations that your video doesn’t deliver on, people will click away quickly. You may get views quickly, but you won’t get much watch time. That will tell YouTube’s search algorithm ‘people aren’t getting what they want from this, rank it lower’. That leads to fewer views over time, and gives the people who do manage to find your video a negative opinion of your channel.

Very few people intentionally use thumbnails that have nothing to do with the content of their videos – i.e, most people understand not to use a picture of a kitten in the thumbnail for their tech review, unless maybe their kitten is the one doing the review (which would be adorable, someone should do that). People who want serious advice won’t click, and people who click to see a kitten will click away fast.

 YouTube Thumbnail Should be relevant

This thumbnail had better be for a kitten’s iPhone review video or people will click away. Fast.

A mistake a lot of creators do make is creating a thumbnail that is meant to evoke an emotion which the video itself does not justify. For example, if you see a picture of a YouTuber looking nervous alongside text that reads ‘My Secret’, you will think they are going to share something deeply personal. You will be curious, and you may even be worried about them. You’ll probably click. Then, if their secret is that they don’t like pineapple on pizza, you’ll probably be angry. This technique gets clicks, but not a lot of watch time and it will lose you subs in the long run.

2. Don’t Be Mysterious

A good thumbnail doesn’t make people guess. Your thumbnail should tell people what’s in your video, not make them wonder about it. People want to know what they’re being asked to spend time watching.

Often, they will be looking for the answer to a specific question and will completely ignore anything that doesn’t show – in the thumbnail – that it has their answer.

Sometimes big channels can get away with stuff like this, because large portions of their audiences are interested in them as people and will already be curious about anything they post. This technique will not bring in new viewers, though.

 YouTube Thumbnail:  Don’t Be Mysterious

If this came up in a search for ‘smoky eye tutorial’, would you click it?

When people want answers, they want to feel confident that they video they click on will have those answers. If you have great content, then let people know it!

3. People Like People

Viewers are more likely to click on a thumbnail if they feel a connection when they look at it. One of the best ways to create a feeling of connection is through eye contact, and you can apply that principle to your YouTube thumbnails easily.

Just make sure you’re in them.

You can either compose a photo to use as your thumbnail, or use a screenshot from your video. Ideally, the image of you will convey the emotional tone of the video and tell potential viewers what it is about, besides you.

So, if you want to post a funny video that is also about making brownies, maybe a picture of you smiling while holding up a tray of brownies would be a better direction than just showing the brownies?

4. Check Out The Competition

Before you post your video, type your topic into YouTube’s search engine and see what comes up. This will give you insight into what kinds of thumbnails are performing well for other people, as well as what you can do to stand out in comparison.

Phil starts talking about thumbnails at 6:09, and he has great tips on checking out your competition!

For example, if all five of the top-ranked videos for the search ‘how to build a cabinet’ show images of the YouTuber smiling while holding a power tool, then your thumbnail for a video on the same topic should also be a picture of you smiling and holding a power tool. You know that works, so why not do it?

5. Use Color in Interesting Ways

You want to use colors that will help you stand out from the other search results. While checking out your competition if you notice that all the people in the other thumbnails are wearing black or navy blue, it will be a good idea for you to wear a brighter color for your shoot to grab a bit more attention.

Beyond simply using colors that are different from other people’s colors, you should consider the emotions different colors trigger.

 YouTube Thumbnail Making Tips

Maybe don’t use a lot of green and yellow in the thumbnail for your angry video rant?

6. Make Your Text Huge

Usually, you’ll want to use a bit of text in your thumbnail. It might be the full title of your video, or just a keyword or phrase. You don’t want to use a full sentence because you won’t have room for it if you’re using huge text.

The reason you should use huge text is so that people can read it. Remember that when people see your thumbnail in their search results, it will be much smaller than it will look while you are creating it. Text that looks big enough while you are creating your thumbnail will be much smaller when people are actually trying to read it, and that goes double for viewers watching on their small smartphone screens.

Frequently Asked Questions about YouTube Thumbnail

1. What is YouTube Thumbnail?

When you upload a video on YouTube, YouTube gives you three images to choose from in the selection of your video’s thumbnail image. These three images are just freeze-frame snapshots from different parts of your video, which may not tell your viewers what your video is really all about.

2. Can You Change YouTube Thumbnail After Publishing?

Yes, you can replace the auto-generated thumbnail with the customized thumbnail you like. But YouTube only allows verified YouTube accounts to upload custom thumbnail images.

3. How Long Does It Take for a Thumbnail to Change on YouTube?

Normally, if you have a good internet connection, you can see the thumbnail is changed within 10 seconds.

4. Why YouTube Thumbnail is Important?

When you get more people watching your video for longer, it increases your watch time and tells YouTube’s search algorithm ‘people like this, rank it higher’. Being ranked higher gets you more views, and even more watch time. It’s a wonderful cycle that all begins with a great thumbnail (paired with a good title and the right tags).

Liza Brown
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.