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How To Change Your YouTube Video Thumbnail Image?

Graywolf teased us a bit in his video entry here, and below about a technique that can set your YouTube thumbnail image. Here’s his video.


So, does it work? I tested it out, after trying the math in my head. I’m probably wrong, but we’ll see.

It worked! See the black video overlay with the message?

This post from Crunchnotes, and the comments, are postulating that it is the center/middle of the video. That’s what I did above. However, YouTube says here that it’s not possible.

How do I change the default thumbnail for my video?
While we may add this feature in the future, there is currently no way to change the screen shot that we capture from your videos for thumbnails.

The other theory is that you can set something called a “poster frame” in your video editing tool. I did not try that, and a quick look around in my Sony Vegas DVD software package tutorial and I can’t find anything about how to do that.


20,000 points to anyone who can solve this mystery?

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13 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Haven
    April 13, 2007 at 1:20 am #

    It’s definitely the exact center frame of the video (at least for .avi files). I’ve uploaded a number of videos to YouTube, and each thumbnail is the frame at the exact middle point of the video, including the milliseconds. So if you upload a 3-minute long video (3:00:00), the thumbnail will be the frame that is at exactly 1:30:00. If you upload a 2:48:66 video, then the thumbnail will be the frame at 1:24:33. If you want to prove it to yourself, open a few of your uploaded videos in an editing program (e.g. Windows Movie Maker). Look at the video length, then divide it in half. The frame at that exact midpoint will be the thumbnail.

  2. cinetech
    May 11, 2007 at 10:49 am #

    I’ve added more info in my website:

    How To Set Up The Right Poster Frame In YouTube
    http://www.squidoo.com/youtubeframe/

  3. Don
    January 8, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Sometimes when I do a search in Google I see links for videos and sometimes the video thumbnail is there and sometimes it isn’t. Do you know what type of program or software you need to make your thumbnail display like that?

    • kjkh;jh;
      May 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

      try wondows movie maker

  4. JST
    April 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    Don, I'm guessing this has something to do with Google's own system and there's little you can do to influence it except make your YouTube video popular. Anyone know better?

  5. Nicolás Casanova
    July 6, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    I've just posted a 1 minute 20 seconds video and the middle thumbnail youtube picked is not the exact middle frame!!

    At the end of the video there is a 5 second still inviting viewers to subscribe to my channel. I think youtube counted that still as 2 seconds and not 5, divided the total video time and picked that middle frame, not the real middle frame.

  6. blsjfj
    June 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    some people have a picture thats not in there video how do you do that?????

    • Anonymos Guest
      July 8, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

      They add a picture exact in the middle of the movie and the picture is only shown for extreme short time, its gone faster than the human eye can see it.

    • i wanna know
      December 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

      thats the same thing im asking!!! shane dawson and other bloggers do this!!

      • POOPOO
        June 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

        Silly, YouTube partners have the option to change the thumbnail to whatever

  7. dhanesh mane
    August 7, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    I have tried almost all options that are disused over net, But I dont think there is any ful proof way to have thumbnails of our choice. I am really working on it and will figure it out soon. if any one come ot know how to do it then pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee post it.

  8. suzy
    April 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    -We offer a service that guarantee's you have your YouTube video's thumbnail be just what you want it to be. Guaranteed! http://www.jerusalemvideoconference.com/youtubeth

  9. @ewankennedy
    March 29, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Here's how you can do it. I succesfully switched a thumbnail image on my YouTube a few minutes ago.

    I changed the timing of my slideshow so that the first slide is displayed for 10 seconds, converted to video and re-uploaded. The first frame was shown as one of the three options from which you can choose your thumbnail. It wasn't offered as an option first time round.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_ipP9D2ZPw