Video Editing

How to create a YouTube thumbnail that gets clicks

Updated June 16, 2022
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An image of a YouTube video saying "the French Toast Guide"

Do you want to make it impossible for viewers to scroll past your YouTube videos? Boost views and click-through rates by communicating with your audience before your video starts with eye-catching YouTube video thumbnails. 

Read on to learn how to create YouTube thumbnails, YouTube thumbnail dimensions, best practices, and how to upload personalized thumbnails to YouTube videos. 

Types of YouTube thumbnail styles

There are two types of YouTube thumbnail styles creators can choose from; auto-generated from YouTube and created by you. 

Use a thumbnail generated from the video

When uploading to YouTube Studio, thumbnails are automatically generated for creators to select from. These thumbnails are still images taken from the video. It’s an easy and time-effective way to create a YouTube thumbnail, but they’re often blurry, catch your face in an awkward look, or crop half of your head. 

You can also choose your own thumbnail still by scrolling through your YouTube video in full-screen mode, pausing a frame, and taking a screenshot. 

Use a thumbnail generated from the video

Make your own YouTube thumbnail

If you want to create a more clickable thumbnail, create your own using a YouTube thumbnail maker. Creating your personalized thumbnail lets, you add your own style, branding, background colors, image text, and customized dimensions. 

You don’t have to be a professional at Photoshop to create YouTube thumbnails. Easy-to-use YouTube thumbnail makers are a great place to start for beginners.

Make your own YouTube thumbnail

6 YouTube thumbnail recommendations

Not sure how to make professional thumbnails for YouTube? When creating your own custom YouTube thumbnails, here’s a list of six requirements to keep in mind. 

1. YouTube thumbnail dimensions

YouTube thumbnails must be 1280 x 720 pixels with a minimum width of 640 pixels. We recommend using the dimensions of the 16:9 aspect ratio. Thumbnails should be under a 2MB limit and in JPG, GIF, or PNG image format. 

YouTube thumbnails must be made in the correct size and dimensions to avoid awkward cropping, lost image, and errors. These dimensions are suitable for desktop and mobile viewing. 

2. YouTube thumbnail font guidelines 

Create thumbnails for YouTube with text to let your viewers know why your video’s worth watching. There are no specific requirements for thumbnail fonts, but make sure to choose a font and text color that is easy to read. We recommend using basic colors like white, black, or red, and bold, block fonts. 

3. YouTube thumbnail branding

Make YouTube thumbnails in a style that suits your channel's branding. Each video thumbnail should have a consistent branded theme, font, color scheme, and graphics so viewers can easily recognize your videos. Make sure to avoid using hard to see colors like bright yellow. Thumbnails should be accessible to the majority of viewers. 

4. What makes a good YouTube thumbnail?

Let’s look at how you can make YouTube video thumbnails that viewers will want to click. 

  • Using the correct YouTube thumbnail dimensions and size guidelines

  • Adding readable text 

  • Using high-quality and relevant images 

  • Including human faces to build connections 

  • Placing humans in the left or the right of the thumbnail 

  • Keeping your branding consistent with branded colors and graphics

  • Accurately representing the video 

5. What makes a YouTube thumbnail too busy?

Less is more when creating YouTube video thumbnails. When brainstorming YouTube thumbnail ideas, try not to overwhelm your viewers and subscribers with too much on-screen information. If you include an image of yourself in the thumbnail, avoid going overboard with other stickers, graphics, and text. Try to keep your thumbnail simple yet effective. 

6. Experimenting with different YouTube thumbnail styles

Take a look at your analytics in YouTube Studio and see which videos are your top content. Do these videos have a more recognizable thumbnail style than other videos? Don’t be afraid to try out new YouTube thumbnail styles to see what catches your viewers attention the quickest. You can also check out YouTube analytics of your competitors to see what’s working for them. 

How to add your customized thumbnails to YouTube

Ready to upload your customized YouTube thumbnail? Before we jump into the step-by-step tutorial, make sure you have verified your YouTube account. 

New video uploads

1. Log in to your YouTube Studio

2. Click on the Create button in the top right corner, then click Upload a video 

3. Select your video file 

4. Under the Thumbnail section, upload your customized YouTube thumbnail

Existing uploaded videos 

1. Log in to your YouTube Studio

2. Click on the Content tab on the left sidebar

3. Click on your uploaded video

4. Under the Thumbnail section, click on the Options (three dots) button, then click Change

5. Upload your new customized YouTube thumbnail

Frequently asked questions

Should I make clickbait YouTube thumbnails?

Clickbait YouTube thumbnails are a fast way to gain more views but publishing misleading thumbnails can lead to viewers clicking off your videos faster, decreasing your YouTube channel watch time. 

Is there a limit on how many custom thumbnails a channel can upload?

Yes. There is a limit on how many thumbnails can be added to your channel each day. If you see an on-screen error readying “Daily custom thumbnail limit reached,” try again in 24 hours. This will vary by country, region, and channel history. 

Can I use a YouTube thumbnail template?

Yes. A ready-to-use YouTube thumbnail template is excellent for beginners and keeping your channel consistent. 

Can I edit my videos YouTube thumbnail once it’s published?

Yes. Creators can change a YouTube video's thumbnail after publishing a video in YouTube Studio. 

Create catchy thumbnail designs for YouTube

With the correct YouTube thumbnail dimensions, size, fonts, colors, and branding, your videos can stop the scroll in no time. If you need more help attracting viewers to your YouTube videos, check out our ultimate guide to YouTube tags. 

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