How to Access Custom YouTube Video Thumbnails

By Keith Dobie — July 14, 2014

Summary: Verify your YouTube account to gain access to custom video thumbnails. Create your own thumbnails at 1280 x 720 pixels to make your video stand out in listings. Details on the YouTube help page here.

What are video thumbnails? They are images that are the “cover pages” for your videos on video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. When viewers see your video in search results or on your YouTube channel, they’ll see the thumbnail and can click on it to view your video. It’s often helpful to have thumbnails that capture attention and are easy to read in small sizes. For most users, the thumbnails are auto-generated randomly from your video, and you’ll see just three options on the right side of your video upload.

You can see how it works in the example below, from a recent video I uploaded. YouTube randomly generated three thumbnails, but there is also a custom thumbnail button.

YouTube Thumbnails

YouTube Thumbnails













The random thumbnails work well enough most of the time, but there’s a better way. A custom thumbnail allows you to create an image with large text and even a logo, making it much easier to promote your video. YouTube does require you to verify your YouTube account before the custom thumbnail option starts appearing below those three random images.

You can do that by going to your YouTube channel setttings. First go to the gear icon in your channel. It appears at the top right. Click on YouTube settings. Now click on “Overview”, and then on the next page click on “View Additional Features”. You can go directly to the YouTube help page by clicking here.

Before diving into creating your own thumbnails, I would suggest taking a look at some popular YouTube channels.  See what other people are doing and how their thumbnails look. For business videos, you will want the thumbnails to be bold, but simple.

Helping clients with YouTube and web video is part of what I do as a video producer. I’m here to help you create effective and affordable business videos that will create valuable connections with customers. Please check out the video demo section of my website for examples.