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Best YouTube Thumbnail Size & Free Design Tools

The best YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high. This 16:9 ratio is the optimum size as it is used in all YouTube players. It will ensure that your thumbnail image fits perfectly.

There – is that the answer you were searching for?

Keep reading, because not only will I show you the best tools to make a thumbnail, and how to change your thumbnail on YouTube. I’ll also highlight the best design and writing tips to help you really stand out.

Plus, use my 2020 YouTube calculator to see how much revenue your views should generate from ads, and read my ultimate guide on how to make money on YouTube to see the other seven ways to monetize your channel.

Let’s get started.

Table of contents

What is the best YouTube Thumbnail size?

As stated above, the best YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high.

16:9 ratio is the optimum size.

Here’s a YouTube Thumbnail Size Template:

Best YouTube thumbnail size is 720 pixels high by 1280 pixels wide
720px by 1280 px

Why is your YouTube thumbnail size crucial?

The average person scrolls through 1,000 metres of social content a day.

Every second over 2,314 hours of YouTube videos are watched, some of the most popular YouTube videos are racking up billions of hits!

I paused on the Internet in real time index for around 30 seconds and 63 hours of footage was uploaded!

How many hours of YouTube are watched an hour?
Credit: realitime internet index

To stand out among all this content, you need to make sure your YouTube thumbnail images are creative, compelling, and optimized to all the right sizes. Otherwise you’re at a disadvantage in the fight for subscribers and views.

Since google owns YouTube, your thumbnail images also show up high in all search results, which makes getting the right image even more important.

Making sure you have the right YouTube thumbnail size will help you gain subscribers and stand out among the crowd.

Important technical details about your YouTube thumbnail image

You want to make sure that your thumbnail image is saved at a medium-high resolution. If it’s not then as soon as it’s scaled up then it’ll appear pixellated.

The best formats to save your image in are:

  • .jpg
  • .jpeg
  • .png

How big is a YouTube thumbnail in MB?

To upload your image, your YouTube thumbnail should be smaller than 2MB file size.

This is the maximum file size you can upload.

Best free templates for your YouTube thumbnail size

Using a pre-made template maker will ensure that your thumbnails are pixel-perfect.

I use Canva because it’s free.

You can login with an email, or via google.

On the home screen, use the search bar to find YouTube thumbnails and other templates. It looks like this:

Create the best youtube thumbnails. in Canva
Screen grab from Canva

How to make a thumbnail for YouTube

Once again, Canva is a great free option to design your YouTube thumbnail for any genre.

Go to the YouTube thumbnail section, you’ll be given a wide range of options that look like this:

Best youtube thumbnail size: canva templates

You’ll be able to tailor the fonts, images, elements and colours to make sure your thumbnail looks professional.

It means you can produce high-quality design assets in just 5 minutes!

Best YouTube thumbnail maker

In addition to Canva, there are several other options that are worth a mention.

2. Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is free.

As one of the best visual software platforms, it has plenty of great features. Some of these include:

  • Custom backgrounds
  • Custom text sizes and fonts
  • Custom elements

You can explore pre-made YouTube thumbnail templates to make your life easier


3. Fotor

One of the best features about Fotor is its excellent User Interface – it’s extremely intuitive to use.

Fotor also does most of the hard work for you by giving you premade thumbnail templates that you can customise yourself.


4. Snappa

Snappa is extremely flexible and has plenty of options to take advantage of.

Some of its best features include:

  • Beautiful imagery for backgrounds
  • Custom shapes and elements
  • Wide range of fonts

How to change thumbnail on YouTube

Setting a YouTube thumbnail doesn’t take long. Upload a video, and you’ll notice a variety of screenshot options. Click the button to the right that says ‘custom thumbnail’ and you can upload your favourite.

Creating your custom youtube thumbnail
Screen grab: YouTube

If you want to swap out your thumbnail after your video has been published then you can change it whenever you want.

Now is a great time to go back through your videos and make them all look consistent!

Staying consistent with your YouTube thumbnails

Consistency helps you create a brand.

Without it, your images are just a random selection that could belong to anyone.

Best examples of YouTube thumbnails

Here are some brilliant examples of brands and individuals with a consistent look and feel.

1. Vanessa Lau – consistent layout elements

Notice how Vanessa keeps her font, layout and colour scheme so consistent on her YouTube thumbnails.

Her photography is also very well planned and professional, with each thumbnail featuring an emotion, or reaction to make it more interesting.

Youtube thumbnail themes
Credit: Vanessa Lau

2. Manchester United – post in themes

As one of the world’s biggest sporting teams, Man Utd have plenty of great content coming in on a daily basis.

Notice how they post consistently in lines of four.

This means that on desktop, they keep a theme every four posts. Not only does it make their channel visually interesting, it also sucks you into watching several videos of the same theme!

YouTube thumbnail themes
Credit: Man Utd YouTube

3. Neil Patel – building a personal brand

Marketing influencer Neil Patel is another whose YouTube channel is brilliantly branded.

Again, he uses different templates for different themes.

What’s clever is how he manages to build his personal brand, while highlighting his keywords – which shows people exactly what they’re looking for.

Best youtube thumbnail themes by Neil Patel
Credit Neil Patel

YouTube thumbnails – tips & best practice

1. Use a custom graphics or illustrations on your thumbnail

Custom graphics on your youtube thumbnail

Using a custom layout or graphic means you can create a brand through your colour scheme, fonts and graphic style. You may want to add icons or illustrations to help you keep consistency.

2. Use a YouTube still from your video as a thumbnail

how to use a screenshot as your youtube thumbnail

Picking a still image from your video is a really authentic way of introducing your content. It can act as a teaser which sucks the user in, and gets them interested in a particular moment of your video.

3. Combine motion stills with graphics

Mix of graphics on your youtube thumbnail

This enables you to feature a freeze frame from your image, while still adding the custom font treatment that is a part of your brand.

4. Try custom photography on your YouTube thumbnail

How to use custom photography on your youtube thumbnail

YouTube Thumbnail copywriting tips

The key with copywriting on your YouTube thumbnail is to keep it minimal.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make it too much writing, which can’t be seen on a small thumbnail.

Don’t forget, you also have a title and a description you can add, so keep it to a few keywords, or an amazing stat.

Remember, YouTube is also the world’s second biggest search engine, so try to do keyword research to find what your users are searching for. You won’t get any direct SEO benefit as it’s an image, but you’ll definitely receive more clicks if you match keyword intent.

All YouTube banner dimensions & specs

Below, I’ve included all YouTube banner template sizes and specifications, so you can make so much more than a YouTube thumbnail.

Credit: Sharelov

All youtube banner specs in 2020

YouTube thumbnail size: final thoughts

Getting your YouTube thumbnail size exactly right is the first step to helping your videos stand out. Some of the main best practice tips to remember are:

  • Pick a consistent style
  • Use colours to stand out
  • Keep it under 2MB
  • Don’t include too much text

If you’d like to recap any of the sections, just click below.

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