The Perfect YouTube Thumbnail Size in 2021 | All You Need to Know

Find out how you can get your customized YouTube thumbnail size right and explore best practices to increase views and subscribers.

Owned by Google, YouTube has become the second largest search engine, which makes it an important platform for businesses to use to get found and increase brand awareness. Videos are more likely to be consumed than any other type of content on the internet and they increase the likelihood of your audience taking the action you want them to take.


Create Eye-Catching Designs with the Right YouTube Thumbnail Dimensions

If you’re not sure what kind of content you should produce for your YouTube channel, a great place to start is to show off your expertise in video format. Tutorials and how-to videos can become popular search results that display in the featured snippets at the top of search results.

Get your videos into the top results by encouraging viewers to click with the right YouTube thumbnail dimensions and an eye-catching design. Check out our quick sizing guide and tips to inspire your new thumbnails.

What is a YouTube Thumbnail?

Originally thumbnails were images that are about the size of a thumbnail. As the internet keeps evolving rapidly, this has changed and thumbnails are often used as a placeholder. They aren’t necessarily the size of a thumb but just smaller versions of a larger original. For example, online shops use thumbnails as a preview of products that customers can click to enlarge and have a closer look at it.


Designer looking at a desktop while drinking coffee with color charts on the desk

YouTube thumbnails are another specific type of thumbnail. They act as an engaging cover image for videos to increase the likelihood of viewers clicking a video. A successful preview image for your video gets you more clicks, views, and new subscribers. As a business, an eye-catching thumbnail is your extra advertising space in search results on Google and YouTube.

How to Get Your Thumbnail Size Right

To get the dimensions for your custom thumbnail, keep the following recommendations from YouTube in mind:

  • Make sure your image has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • The minimum width is 640 pixels.
  • Upload your image in JPG, GIF, or PNG format.
  • The maximum file size is 2 MB.
  • Use the 16:9 aspect ratio used in YouTube players and previews.

Visual aid of a YouTube Thumbnail's dimesnisons with aspect ratio information

4 Different Types of YouTube Thumbnail fornats - jpg, png, gif and bmp

Be Aware of YouTube Thumbnail Policies

Ensure you’re following the YouTube community guidelines when creating your thumbnail or it might get rejected. If there’s a strike issued on your account, you get an email and an alert in your channel settings.

Sometimes this happens in error and you can appeal the strike as long as your thumbnails haven’t violated any community guidelines. As soon as your appeal is approved, YouTube restores your thumbnail.

YouTube Thumbnail Design Best Practices

Creating a customized eye-catching thumbnail image is crucial to increase clicks, views, and eventually subscribers. Get inspired to design your own from scratch with our tips below or try the Design Wizard YouTube Thumbnail Maker. Browse the library of professionally designed templates to make your unique thumbnail that entices your audience to watch your videos.


Business Expert Insights

If you’re trying to set up yourself or your business as an expert in your industry, video can be a great way to create a more personal connection with your audience. Show your expertise by creating tutorials, reviews, or answer your subscribers’ questions in a Q&A session.


Overhead image of a laptop, camera, sd card and a cactus on a wooden desk

To make your thumbnail stand out, keep it simple and avoid a long title for your video. If you have a long title, just use a few keywords for your thumbnail to get the main purpose of your video across. Viewers can also see the title next to the video but the thumbnail is what grabs their attention by using easily readable font size and style.

Use shapes with a color that contrasts with your font color to further improve readability. This is particularly important for users scrolling through videos in the YouTube app where the text displays even smaller than on desktop. As 40.9% of YouTube watchtime now happens on mobile devices, it’s crucial to increase legibility. Play around with different colors and test which ones are the most engaging.


Image and Edited Image  for a Youtube Thumbnail side by side comparison using an image of a girl shooting a guitar tutorial with a circle light

Make sure you’re clear on what your video is about to get your content in front of the right target audience for your business. In our example, the thumbnail title makes it obvious that this is a beginner’s lesson and part of a series of videos. YouTube series like this make your audience look forward to the next video and drive engagement.


Gaming

By nature, a gaming video requires a more colorful thumbnail to keep in line with the fun and entertainment of the gaming world. Be creative and play with different layers and icons until you’ve designed a click-worthy thumbnail.


Image and Edited Image for a Youtube Thumbnail side by side comparison using an image of a person holding an Xbox controller

Be sure to keep your focus on the game you’re talking about in your tutorial or review and not use any misleading images. Nothing lowers your audience retention rate more than a thumbnail that doesn’t accurately represent the contents of your video. You might initially get an increased number of views, but viewers leave quickly if your thumbnail is misleading.


Food

The most engaging part of a food-related YouTube thumbnail is a large mouth-watering image of the dish the video is about. When viewers search for how to cook something, they usually look for either the best, easiest or quickest way to cook a meal. The title copy should make that clear immediately. Use funky fonts and contrasting colors to make the text more eye-catching.


Image and Edited Image for a Youtube Thumbnail side by side comparison using an image of a pizza with toppings on a wood background

There are millions of cooking videos on YouTube. To make yours stand out from that crowd, use icons, your logo, or even a photo of you to make your series of recipe videos more recognizable. Make sure you maintain this uniform look throughout your series to maintain uniformity, which helps to create your brand image and your subscribers to pick out your videos more easily.

If you’re using a logo to create brand awareness, don’t place your logo in the bottom right corner of your thumbnail. That’s where the duration of your video displays in the preview and covers half of or your entire logo if placed in that corner.


Travel

If you’re starting a travel vlog or looking into giving travel tips to boost engagement for your business, make sure to use stunning photography of your chosen destinations. If you don’t have your own photos ready, a quick and easy way to get high-quality images of popular places for your thumbnails is to download stock photos.

Whet the appetites of your viewers with beautiful depictions of holiday destinations they’re dreaming of going to. Choose your image wisely and make sure you have a clear focus like the most popular sight.


Image and Edited Image for a Youtube Thumbnail side by side comparison using an image of a Paris landscape with the Eiffel Tower in the background

If you get too excited and use too many images, you can overwhelm your audience. It’s best to go for a short and simple video title that doesn’t detract from the image. You can also play with color schemes that represent the country you’re talking about in your video.


Lifestyle

72% of people used YouTube to keep fit in 2020 with a huge increase in videos using the keywords “home workout” in their titles. Beauty and fashion YouTubers have become influencers that have had a huge impact on the industry for years now, as they test products and review styles. Customers often find these content creators more trustworthy and want to get their expertise before they buy.


Image and Edited Image for a Youtube Thumbnail side by side comparison using an image of a woman exercising wearing fitness clothes at home, with plants surrounding her

For lifestyle-related content like fashion, beauty, and fitness, make your videos stand out by color-coding your thumbnails. Create various playlists on different topics like a workout series or videos focused on hair care, or the latest spring fashion.

Design your thumbnails for each series with a different color to make it easy for your subscribers to recognize those videos as a part of that playlist. Your chosen colors make up a perfect background for the titles of your videos. Add icons to visually underline your words or insert your logo to brand your videos.

How to Add a Custom Thumbnail for New Videos

Make sure you’ve verified your account to be able to upload your custom thumbnail.


Step 1: Log into Your YouTube Account

Go to youtube.com and click Sign In on the top right. Enter your email address and password.


Step 2: Upload Your Video

Click the Camera icon on the top right and select Upload Video. Drag and drop your file or click Select Files to find your video in your file explorer.


Step 3: Select Your Custom Thumbnail in the Correct Size

In the Details window, select Upload thumbnail and find your custom thumbnail in file explorer. Click Save.


Screenshot of Uploading process for new video in YouTube with 'Upload Thumbnail' Highlighted in Red in details panel

How to Add a Custom Thumbnail to Uploaded Videos

Step 1: Log into Your YouTube Account

Go to youtube.com and click Sign In on the top right. Enter your email address and password.


Step 2: Select Your Uploaded Video in YouTube Studio

Click on your Channel icon on the top right and select YouTube Studio. In the panel on the left, select Content.


YouTube Stdudio screenshot with 'content' option on the left hand side highlighted in red

Step 3: Upload Your New Custom Thumbnail Image

Click the thumbnail of the video you want to change the thumbnail on. In the Video details window, click Upload thumbnail and select your custom thumbnail in file explorer. Click Save.


Screenshot of process for already uploaded videos in YouTube with 'Upload Thumbnail' Highlighted in Red in details panel

Whether you’re a business or a content creator on YouTube, an attention-grabbing thumbnail can make a huge difference when it comes to views and getting your audience to engage with your videos. A unique thumbnail builds trust by making your YouTube channel look more professional.


Find Your Dedicated Audience with Striking Images

Choose images, colors, titles, and icons wisely to accurately represent the content of your videos. Ensure you follow our size guide and YouTube policies when creating your thumbnail. Be consistent to create a recognizable look for a particular series and foster brand identity. This way, you can find a dedicated audience that enjoys your videos, keep coming back and subscribe.

View our extensive library of free images.
Popular Image Categories
Popular Video Categories