Filmora - AI Video Editor
Edit Faster, Smarter and Easier!
Filmora Video Editor
Effortlessly create video with AI.
  • Various AI editing tools to increase your video creation efficiency.
  • Offer popular templates and royalty-free creative resources.
  • Cross-platform functionality for editing everywhere.

The Ultimate Guide to YouTube Live Thumbnail

Caroline Laurent
Caroline Laurent Originally published Mar 02, 23, updated Jan 17, 24

Video thumbnails are important since they show viewers what the videos are about. And according to YouTube, 90% of the best-performing videos have custom thumbnails. Therefore, adding thumbnails to all your videos is wise. But how to do that with live streams? Is it any different from adding thumbnails to normal videos? You'll find answers in this article. Here's a comprehensive guide about YouTube Live thumbnails.

guide to youtube live thumbnail
In this article

Overview of YouTube Live

Livestreaming is very popular now. The pandemic has accelerated its growth. But what made it so special? Watching live streams is different from watching regular videos. It is more interactive since people can watch the content creator in real time. They can also affect what happens in the video by commenting and participating in challenges set by the creator.

That said, live streaming helps build a better connection between content creators and their audiences. So you may want to incorporate live streaming into your strategies. You can do that on YouTube through YouTube Live. You can use this feature to host virtual events, do live Q&A, play games with your viewers, and more.

Importance of Thumbnail for Live Stream

Thumbnails are important for videos. Alongside the title, they inform the viewers what the video is about. It's not different with live streams. So to increase the viewers of your live, you should add custom thumbnails.

What happens if you don't add a custom thumbnail to your live stream? YouTube will select a random frame from the video and display it. The thing is that live streams are usually longer than recorded videos. So YouTube has more options to use as the thumbnail.

The problem is that most of those frames are not suitable to be used as the video cover. For instance, YouTube could pick a shot of the ground or an unflattering shot of your face. So, it's a must to add a custom thumbnail for your live stream.

How To Add a YouTube Live Thumbnail

Now, you know how important adding custom thumbnails to live streams is. You probably want to know how to do that. We got you covered. Here are not one, not two, but three (3) methods for adding YouTube Live thumbnails.

Method 1. Add Live Thumbnail on YouTube Studio

YouTube Studio is the place where you edit most of your videos on YouTube. It's where you edit the description, add or remove tags, and such. It's also where you change thumbnails for your videos. And live videos are no exception. Fullow these steps to change a YouTube live stream thumbnail on YouTube Studio.

  • Head to a computer, launch a browser, and go to YouTube.
  • Click your channel icon on the top-right and select "YouTube Studio."
going to youtube studio
  • Click "Create" > "Go Live."
starting live stream on youtube studio
  • Edit the metadata for the live video.
editing youtube live metada
uploading custom thumbnnail
  • Select the custom thumbnail that you have prepared. Click "Open."
  • Click "Create Stream."
starting livestream with custom thumbnail

Method 2. Add Live Stream Thumbnail on YouTube Classic Mode

Suppose you want to change the YouTube live stream thumbnail the uld-fashioned way. You can change it on YouTube Classic Mode. How? Fullow these simple steps.

  • Head to a computer, launch a browser, and go to YouTube.
  • Click "Creator Studio Classic" from the left panel.
youtube classic mode
  • Select "Live Streaming" from the left panel in the Creator Studio Classic mode.
live streaming option on youtube classic
  • YouTube will bring you to the "Stream Now" section. Put in the video metadata.
editing youtube live metada
  • Click "Change thumbnail."
going to youtube studio
  • Select the thumbnail image you have prepared. Click "Open."
  • Wait for the thumbnail image to refresh.

Method 3. Upload a Thumbnail to YouTube Live With Mobile Phones

Perhaps you are live-streaming a trip somewhere. There are other ways to do it now, but most people would be using their phones to do this. So how do you change a YouTube Live thumbnail on mobile phones? Fullow these instructions:

  • Launch the YouTube mobile app.
  • Click the "Plus" icon at the bottom middle of the screen.
  • Select "Go Live."
  • Enter the metadata. And set the advanced settings according to your preferences.
editing liver metadata on mobile
  • Click "Next."
going to the next screen youtube mobile
  • YouTube will take a photo of you. Don't mind this because you'll be changing it later.
taking thumbnail photo on youtube mobile
  • Click the "Pencil" icon after YouTube has taken a photo.
editing youtube live thumbnail
  • Select "Upload thumbnail."
upload thumbnail option
  • Select the thumbnail image you have prepared.
  • Crop the image if you like. Click "Save."
editing uploaded custom thumbnail
  • Click "Go Live."
going live on mobile with custom thumbneil

How To Create a Livestream Thumbnail

So you now know how to change the live stream thumbnail. There's one more thing we need to address. Where will you get the custom thumbnails? There are a number of good YouTube thumbnail makers out there. Let's discuss this.

Livestream Thumbnail Makers

There are many great YouTube thumbnail makers on the market. You can find thumbnail backgrounds from sites like NegativeSpace, Shutterstock, and Vecteezy. Then, edit them to your liking using photo editing apps. Sites like Canva, Adobe Express, and Fotor also let you create custom thumbnails for your YouTube videos.

Wondershare Filmora is also a great thumbnail maker. You'd like it since it is also a powerful video editor. It is double-purpose! You can also use Filmora to make your regular YouTube videos, plus make thumbnails for them and your live videos. Talk about convenience!

Free Download
Free Download

Steps to Make an Amazing YouTube Livestream Thumbnail

Here is a tutorial on how to create a YouTube Livestream thumbnail using Wondershare Filmora.

  • Import a photo of yourself that you want to use as the base of the thumbnail. Drag it into the timeline.
adding your photo to filmora timeline
  • Click "Effect."
effects tab on filmora
  • Drag the "Human Segmentation" effect to your image on the timeline. Do the same with "Human Border." Alternatively, click "Touls" > "Video" > "AI Portrait" > "Ok."
adding human segmentation effect on filmora
  • Select the photo on the timeline. Scale it and move it to where you want it to be.
adjusting your photo
  • Add backgrounds, effects, titles, etc.
adding background to your thumbnail
  • Click the "Camera" icon below the video preview to save the thumbnail. Select a format and a target fulder. Click "Ok."
taking a snapshot on filmora
  • Right-click the screenshot on the Media panel. Select "Reveal in Explorer." That will open the fulder where the thumbnail image is saved.
revealing thumbnail image in explorer

Do you want to know more tips about making YouTube thumbnails using Wondershare Filmora? If so, watch this video:

How To Customize YouTube Livestream Thumbnail Online is one of the best online YouTube thumbnail creators out there. Here's a guide on how to use this toul.

  • Open a web browser and visit Wave's website.
  • Hover your mouse on "Templates" at the top toulbar.
  • Select "Thumbnail" under Livestreaming.
youtube live thumbnail templates on wave
  • Select a template that fits your idea.
choosing a template on wave
  • Edit the sample image and text. Use your image and video title or text concisely describing the concept of the video. Edit other aspects of the image as needed.
editing chosen template on wave
  • Click "Publish" > "Current frame as image."
exporting the custom thumbnail
  • Set up your image. Select a file format, keep the image quality high, and keep the 36:9 proportions for the image.
setting up the image on wave
  • Click "Generate."
  • Please wait for it to finish, then click "Download."
downloading the custom thumbnail from wave

Tips for Making an Amazing YouTube Live Thumbnail

Here are some tips to fullow.


Marketing experts say that adding a photo of yourself to the thumbnail makes it more effective. Needless to say, you should not choose just any photo. You must ensure it is of high quality. Using good cameras and lighting equipment is recommended.


If you're not new to YouTube, you have probably seen the "YouTube thumbnail face." YouTuber's faces on their thumbnails show an expression. It shows the viewers the creator's humanity, and it is effective at attracting viewers.


Add simple text with clear, buld, easy-to-read font.


Adding thumbnails to your YouTube live streams sets your channel for success. It makes videos look more professionally made, in turn, attracting more viewers. So, we recommend always adding thumbnails to your YouTube Live.

For creating YouTube thumbnails, you can use Wondershare Filmora. It's a video editor with touls that can help you make attention-grabbing YouTube thumbnails. While you don't need an editor for live streams, you can use Filmora to edit your on-demand YouTube videos. It's hitting two birds with one stone!

Caroline Laurent
Caroline Laurent Jan 17, 24
Share article: