YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

Are you looking to get more views on your YouTube videos? While you may want to consider finding new ways to promote your content, there is one really easy and effective solution to getting more clicks: improving your video thumbnails.

Whether it’s a learning video, a product demo, or a video podcast, 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 watch — hopefully yours!

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the exact size your YouTube thumbnail should be and go over some best practices for creating your own thumbnails  — but first, what exactly is a thumbnail? 

What are Thumbnails?

Thumbnails are small versions of images or videos that give a visual preview of what’s inside the file. They originally got their name from being about the size of a human thumbnail, and in the world of online video, YouTube thumbnails are a bit like book covers.

People’s decisions on whether or not to click a video will often depend on the thumbnail. While an eye-catching image can draw people in, they’re more likely to scroll past boring or blurry thumbnails.

Ensuring your video thumbnails are better than those of other content creators will make your videos more likely to win video clicks on YouTube and other search engines — which is vital to building a YouTube audience.

Of course, having a good thumbnail is one thing, but you still need to make sure you have a great video behind it. If you’re just starting to make your own online video content, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guide for How to Make a YouTube Video.

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

Download Snagit to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos thumbnails.

Download now!
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2023 YouTube Thumbnail Sizes

Now that you know what a thumbnail is, let’s talk about getting the perfect YouTube thumbnail dimensions.

The ideal YouTube thumbnail size in pixels is 1280 × 720, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. On the other hand, the ideal YouTube thumbnail size ratio for YouTube players and previews is 16:9.

As well as getting the size and ratios right, you’ll also want to keep in mind the file size and file type of your thumbnail. To help you get started, we’ve put together this handy guide you can refer to as you create your video thumbnails:

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

Fortunately, some other video hosting platforms, such as Vimeo, support the same thumbnail sizes. This is great if you want to repurpose your videos as you can post your content on multiple platforms without needing to do twice as much work. However, there are other differences between YouTube and Vimeo that might be worth familiarizing yourself with.

Now that we’ve covered the technical details, it’s time to get creative. How do you make a great-looking thumbnail that entices potential viewers? Great question! We’ve pulled together some expert tips to help you create the very best YouTube thumbnails for your content.

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, as of November 2022, almost 90% of worldwide YouTube visits were made from mobile devices.

 With that in mind, try not to add too much text to your thumbnails, or text that’s so small it’s hard to read. Ultimately, anything in a thumbnail that’s difficult to see or understand is a waste of valuable thumbnail real estate.

To make sure you keep your thumbnail simple, avoid adding the entire title of your video to the image — remember that the title will appear right next to your thumbnail anyway.

You should also try to shorten your title to just a few short words, or if possible, simply use a still image with a logo. Stills are great for thumbnails because they give quick snapshots of what viewers will find in your video, without you having to create a new image from scratch.

Use contrasting colors

We’re willing to be that you’ve seen online videos make this tragic mistake before: white text on a light background or black text on a dark background.

Remember, thumbnails are small and there are usually a lot of them on the screen at any one time. Yours needs to stand out, so if a viewer can’t easily read the text on your thumbnail, it’s unlikely they’ll click on it.

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Pay attention to logo placement

Adding your logo to your YouTube thumbnails is always a good idea as it can help boost brand awareness. However, how and where you place your logo on your thumbnails is crucial.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your logo isn’t too big as you don’t want to distract from the thumbnail’s message. However, if it’s too small there’s hardly any point in 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 you should always avoid the bottom-right corner. Why? Because that’s where YouTube displays the length of your video. 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 ensure your YouTube thumbnail accurately depicts what your viewers will find in your video. If it doesn’t, you could hurt your reputation or brand. But worse than that, YouTube could 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. 

Try to create a visual teaser of your video, but without revealing too much information. The idea here is to show just enough that users want to click through and see what you have to say.

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

Download Snagit to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos thumbnails.

Download now!
Snagit icon

Bonus! How to Make Your Own YouTube Thumbnail

Now, let’s put these tips to good use by actually creating a custom thumbnail image. We may be biased, but we’d say that one of the easiest ways to create a YouTube thumbnail is to use TechSmith’s Snagit.

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

1. Download a free trial of Snagit.

Yes, the first step really is that easy!

2. Import your video into Snagit.

If you’ve used Snagit to record a screen or your webcam then you can skip this step. However, if you used a different recording tool, all you need to do is: 

  1. Open Snagit
  2. Click on File in the Menu Bar
  3. Go down to Import and click Import to Library…
Import Video to Snagit Library

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

Once your video opens up in Snagit, find the exact spot that you’d like to turn into an image for your thumbnail.

Convert Video Still to PNG

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

Remember all those best practices we listed earlier? Good! Now’s the time to use them. Be sure to use simple text, contrasting colors, and be mindful of where you place your logo.

YouTube Thumbnail with Text and Logo

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

Once you’ve created your custom YouTube thumbnail, all you have to do is upload it to YouTube before posting your video. We told you it was easy with Snagit! 

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

Youtube Thumbnail Sizes, the FAQs

What is the ideal YouTube thumbnail size?

The perfect YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 × 720 pixels. This maintains an aspect ratio of 16:9 — which is perfect for ensuring optimal visibility across most screens and devices.
Remember, the width of your thumbnail should be at least 640 pixels, anything less than that might result in low image quality.

Can I change the thumbnail size on YouTube?

You can’t change the size of a thumbnail directly on YouTube, since they control how it shows on the platform. But, you can upload a new and larger thumbnail, which YouTube will automatically scale down to make it fit.

Can I add a full-size thumbnail on YouTube?

You sure can! Just remember to follow the best practices for creating thumbnails — this is where the aspect ratio is crucial and you should always aim for a 16:9 ratio.
If you go with a 4:3 ratio, your thumbnail won’t cover the width of the entire screen.

Is 1920×1080 a good size for YouTube thumbnails?

YouTube can support thumbnails with a resolution of up to 1920 x 1080, but as a small image, it’s unlikely anyone will notice the high definition. Remember, you also need to ensure the file size doesn’t exceed 2MB, which might be an issue with high-resolution images.

Lauren North

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

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