YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

Are you looking to get more views on your YouTube videos? One easy way to do that is to improve your video thumbnails.

Your video’s thumbnail is just as important as its title when it comes to attracting views. Thumbnails draw the attention of potential viewers and help them decide which video they should ultimately decide to watch—hopefully yours!

2021 YouTube Thumbnail Sizes

1280 x 720 pixels
– Minimum width: 640 pixels
– Recommended ratio: 16:9
– Maximum file size: 2MB
– Accepted file types: .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG

Of course, it’s a good idea to have a great video behind the thumbnail. That’s why I highly recommend you also check out our Ultimate Guide for How to Make a YouTube Video.

But, anyway, what exactly is a thumbnail? Thumbnails are reduced-size versions of images or videos that originally got their name from being about the size of a human thumbnail.

YouTube thumbnails act as the book covers of the online video world. Our decision whether or not to click on a video often depends on the thumbnail. An eye-catching image can draw us in, while a boring or blurry thumbnail can easily deter us.

By having better video thumbnails than other videos, you’re more likely to win video clicks on YouTube and other search engines. That’s why creating a great custom YouTube thumbnail is so important.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the exact size your YouTube thumbnail should be and I’ll also cover some thumbnail best practices.

First, let’s start with the exact size you should make your YouTube thumbnails!

The ideal thumbnail size is 1280 × 720 pixels with a minimum width of 640 pixels, and the ideal ratio for YouTube players and previews is 16:9. Along with the correct size, you’ll also want to keep in mind the ratio, file size, and file type of your thumbnail. Below is a handy guide you can reference as you create a thumbnail for your video.

Now that we’ve covered the technical details of your YouTube thumbnail, let’s dive into the creative. How do you make a great-looking thumbnail that entices potential viewers? Great question! We’ve pulled together some tips that you’ll want to keep in mind while creating YouTube thumbnails.

YouTube Thumbnail Best Practices

Keep it simple

Be concise! YouTube thumbnails are small. And they’re even smaller when they’re viewed on a mobile device, which is extremely common since YouTube is often watched on mobile phones. In fact, on an average day in 2018, there were 1 billion mobile views. That’s why you should try to avoid adding too much text or too small of text. People won’t be able to read it, and thus wasting valuable thumbnail real estate.

To make sure you keep your thumbnail simple, avoid adding the entire title of your video to the image. Your video title will appear right next to your thumbnail anyways. Try to shorten your title to just a few short words, or if possible, you can simply use only a still image with a logo. Still images work great for thumbnails because they quickly give a snapshot of what viewers will find in your video without you having to create an image entirely from scratch.

Use contrasting colors

You’ve seen this tragic mistake before: white text on a light background or black text on a dark background. Yikes. As I mentioned before, thumbnails are small, and there are a lot of them. You need yours to stand out, so if a viewer can’t easily read the text on your thumbnail, it’s likely your video will be skipped.

Pay attention to logo placement

Adding your logo to your YouTube thumbnails is a good idea. It can help with brand awareness, however, how and where you place your logo on your thumbnails is important. First, make sure your logo isn’t too big. You don’t want to distract from the overall message of the thumbnail, but if it’s too small there’s no sense of adding it at all.

Adding your logo to the corner of the thumbnail image works well, especially if you have other text on your thumbnail, but avoid the right bottom corner. Why? Because that’s where YouTube displays the length of your video for viewers. If you put your logo there it’ll be covered up and make your video look unprofessional.

Avoid irrelevant or misleading images

No one likes clickbait. That’s why It’s important to make sure that your YouTube thumbnail accurately depicts what a viewer is going to find in your video. If it doesn’t, you could hurt your reputation or brand.  And even worse, YouTube could potentially stop showing your videos in search results if your bounce rates are too high.

A thumbnail’s purpose is to give context, so using an image that doesn’t depict what a viewer is actually going to see won’t benefit you. It’s a good idea to find the most important point of your video and highlight that by creating a thumbnail around it. It’s best to balance creating a visual teaser without revealing too much. Only show enough to make users want to click through and see what you have to say.

Bonus! How to Make Your Own YouTube Thumbnail

Now, let’s put what we learned about thumbnails to use by actually creating a custom thumbnail image. An easy way to create a YouTube thumbnail is to use TechSmith Snagit.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to create a YouTube thumbnail in Snagit.

1. Download a free trial of Snagit.

It’s really that easy!

2. Import your video into Snagit.

If you’ve recorded screen video or your webcam with Snagit, you can skip importing your video.

Import Video to Snagit Library

3. Use Snagit’s convert to PNG button to turn your video still into an image.

Play through your video and find the exact spot you’d like to turn into an image.

Convert Video Still to PNG

4. Add text, callouts, arrows, your logo, and more right within the Snagit Editor.

Don’t forget to keep in mind the YouTube Thumbnail best practices—simple, contrasting colors, logo placement, etc.

YouTube Thumbnail with Text and Logo

5. Save your image to upload to YouTube for the video thumbnail.

Now, go ahead and try making your own YouTube thumbnail in Snagit, or feel free to use whatever software you feel most comfortable using. Then, upload your custom thumbnail to YouTube before posting your video.

Hopefully, your new, customized thumbnail will bring you more views, clicks, and engagement!

Lauren North

Direct Marketing Specialist at TechSmith. I enjoy painting with watercolors, visiting our National Parks, and eating nachos.

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