12 YouTube Thumbnail Best Practices Every YouTuber Should Know

12 Best Practices for YouTube Thumbnail

In this blog post, we are going to dive deep into YouTube thumbnail best practices and how to make most out of YouTube thumbnail .

Table of Contents

What is YouTube thumbnail?

YouTube thumbnail is the quick snapshot of your video. YouTubeThumbnail is the very first thing viewers have a look at YouTube feeds or search results before watching the video. 


In other words, YouTube thumbnail is actually an image(JPG, GIF and PNG) that represents your video content.

Why YouTube thumbnails are super important?

Are YouTube thumbnail important? Thumbnail is the first impression of your video and it stays at the top of your video conversion funnel. If you allow more people to the top funnel you’ll obviously see more conversion.


Nearly 30-50% of viewers come from YouTube search features. 

Here’s how your viewers come from the search engine algorithm.

First, they type the target keyword on the YouTube search box and hit enter.


Scan through the YouTube video thumbnails (at least for the top 7 search results).


If any thumbnail grabs their attention then they read the video title and skim through the meta description.


Finally, Boom! Viewers click on the video and watch the content.

Hopefully, now you understood how important is your YouTube video thumbnail.


If you don’t make a conversion on the thumbnail then you don’t get many video views in the YouTube funnel.


After viewers completely watched your video, give them a call to action or put YouTube end screen to keep them engaged on your channel.

youtube view funnel

But make sure that you adhere to YouTube custom thumbnail guidelines while designing YouTube thumbnail to avoid strikes.


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YouTube thumbnail - Important factors to be considered

When designing YouTube thumbnail, you need to consider a few things.

Let’s see those in detail.


Relevant image

Never use images not relevant to your video content. If you use attractive pictures to bait audiences, viewers will definitely click on your video. 


You see the spike in CTR(Click-through rate). Once your viewers found it’s not relevant they simply drop off. It’ll highly impact your audience-retention rate and YouTube decreases your video ranks for that keyword.


Image format

Use PNG format and add the target keyword on the thumbnail image as well as in the filename. PNG format is highly recommended because it stores the arbitrary text strings together with the image.


So YouTube can easily read the text from the thumbnail image.

Image size should be less than 2MB. I personally use Snappa for its simplicity and contain more visual elements for free.


Thumbnail Background color

Your Thumbnail should stand out from the crowd. Use Orange, Blue, Yellow, and Green as a background/frame color because the YouTube interface is made of red, black, and white.


Readable text 

Text on the thumbnail should be readable by the viewers who watch your videos from a different platform(Mobile, desktop, tablet). 


So pay close attention to font type and size.


It should be completely contrasting to your background.


It should not be hidden behind the YouTube element. Increase the font-size and limit the number of characters to 20 to stop text overpower the visuals.


For e.g., if you add text on the down-right it’ll be hidden behind the YouTube watch time on mobile.


Have a look at the second video bottom line text.



youtube thumnbail case study

What is YouTube thumbnail template?

YouTube thumbnail templates are the skeleton of your actual thumbnail image. You can do a little tweak on the YouTube thumbnail template and convert that to the final YouTube thumbnail image.

How to create YouTube thumbnail template for Playlist?

If you’re creating many videos on the same niche for YouTube playlist then you should not re-invent the wheel every time you upload a video to the playlist. 


You must have templates in place for each Playlist.


So, when you create a video for any of the playlists, you just need to use the respective YouTube thumbnail template, add title and save hell lot of time. 


Along with that, you’re making all videos on the playlist look consistent.

Here’s the best use case of having Youtube thumbnail template.


If you look at the below playlist the YouTuber just change the sub-title and no changes on other elements. He has 100+videos on playlist.


Do you think he created the thumbnail from the scratch for each video?



youtube thumnbail template use case

Let’s see how to easily create YouTube thumbnail template.


I personally use TubeBuddy for creating templates because I can easily access right from the YouTube Dashboard. 

Either I create templates on TubeBuddy or I use canva for designing a template and upload that to TubeBuddy.So that I can use it when I upload a video.


🚀 Recommended Article: YouTube Upload Default: A Definitive Guide

Let’s assume that you have created a template for your java tutorial playlist either using Canva/Adobe premiere pro.


Here’s a sample YouTube thumbnail template.If you look at the below image I added a lot of visual elements like pictures, Playlist name, channel name, and Chapter name.


youtube thumbnail template maker

Every time you cannot pick and place the images, text format, and titles exactly in the same position as above. 


Of course, you can but you have to spend a few hours of your valuable time.


But having one YouTube thumbnail template saves you from the nightmare.

So, now we have the thumbnail template ready.


Install TubeBuddy on your chrome browser.


Let’s head over to the YouTube dashboard and go to My videos page.

Click the TB icon next to any of the videos.


Select “Thumbnail Generator “ under the Misc as shown below



You’ll see Thumbnail generator pop up and ask you to select a Thumbnail background.

Select “Solid color” color.


Now it’ll take you to the layers section.



Click on the custom + and upload your template image and finally, it looks like below.

youtube thumbnail layer template

Click on the option “Save Layers as Template” and it’ll prompt for the template name. Just give your playlist name as a template name and save it.

It’ll be saved as one of your YouTube thumbnail templates.


🚀 Recommended Article: How to add Subscribe button to YouTube videos?


How can you pick YouTube thumbnail template when you upload video next time?

When you upload videos, click on TB icon under MyVideos – Open the Thumbnail Generator >> Select “Solid color” as background >> In the Layers, click Template and select the template from the list of templates. 


Just add the sub-title and click on Preview.

In the preview tab, you can see how your videos look on YouTube search results, Twitter, and Facebook.




Click on “Save & Publish” to update the thumbnail to your video.

YouTube thumbnail - Frequently asked questions

How to change thumbnail on YouTube?

Go to YouTube dashboard videos. Scroll down to the video where you want to change the thumbnail. Click on the Edit icon.

edit youtube thumbnail


Video details will be opened. Below the description box, you can see the options to download or change the thumbnail as shown below. Click on the change option and upload a video thumbnail.

change youtube thumbnail

What is the perfect size for YouTube thumbnail?

YouTube recommends thumbnail having 1280×720 pixels (with a minimum width of 640 pixels) dimensions. 


The maximum file size of thumbnail should not exceed 2MB. YouTube thumbnail image should be JPG, PNG, or GIF format.

How to download YouTube thumbnail of any videos?

If you want to download YouTube thumbnail of your video, go to the YouTube dashboard and select videos option. Go to the video which you want to download thumbnail.


Click on the Edit icon and the video info page will be opened. Scroll down to the thumbnail menu below the description box.


Click on the thumbnail. You can see two options change or download. Click the download option to download your video YouTube thumbnail.

download YouTube thumbnail


If you want to download YouTube thumbnail of any video on YouTube, head over to YouTube thumbnail downloader. Enter the YouTube video link for which you want to download thumbnail on the textbox.


You can find three different dimensions of thumbnail for download(Small, Medium and large) as shown below

youtube thumbnail downloader

Why can't I upload YouTube thumbnail to my Channel?

When you created YouTube channel, YouTube won’t allow you to upload a custom thumbnail by default. So, you cannot change your YouTube thumbnail image for videos.


To enable the custom YouTube thumbnail settings, go to YouTube features. Enable the custom YouTube thumbnail option. 

Once you enabled the custom YouTube thumbnail, you can upload a custom thumbnail to your videos.

How can I check the performance of my YouTube thumbnail?

On the new YouTube Studio, you can track the performance of your thumbnail with Click Through Rate(CTR). Just go that video and switch to the analytics tab.


Continuously monitor the performance of both Click through rate and views.



youtube thumnbail ctr

If CTR% is increased and average view duration time is dropped then something wrong with your YouTube thumbnail.


Alternatively, you can do Thumbnail A/B test on TubeBuddy and pick the one which gives better results.

That’s it for this post. Please do let me know if you have any questions. Also, I’m interested to hear about the tool that you’re using for designing YouTube thumbnail

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Hey 👋 ,

This is Thannusheya - Founder of Utubebliss.

I’m a YouTuber for the past few years and have multiple YouTube channels up and running.

I personally trained budding YouTubers and improved their channel traffic and subscribers

Here I’m sharing how to improve video traffic, gain views and increase subscribers organically with white-hat SEO techniques.

I love to share all my founding, case-study, YouTube SEO, traffic tips on Utubebliss.

So stay tuned!

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