How To Enable & Upload Custom YouTube Thumbnails

eyes closed picYou know that little picture that you click on to watch a video?

Sometimes the image that shows up is pretty unflattering – it’s usually someone with their mouth open or their eyes are closed. Don’t let this happen to you!

Normally when you upload a video to YouTube, they give you three choices for this image, which is called a thumbnail. Very often, none are great options. But, you can unlock the ability to upload a custom thumbnail just by verifying your YouTube account.

Just go into account settings and click verify – then it will ask for a phone # for them to text a verification code to. That’s it. They just want to make sure you are a real person. There’s no other requirements.

Unfortunately, YouTube menus can be very confusing, so here are some screenshots to show you how to find the verification button.




Now you can go back into the screen where you can change the title, etc for your video (called video manager) and upload any picture you’d like to use as a thumbnail. I often save a good looking still frame while editing, but you can use any image you like – we recommend using jpeg or jpg format. A great thing about this is that you can add some text which may boost your chance of people actually clicking to watch your video when they see it in Facebook or find it in Google. For example ….

good pic w titling

About the author

Mike Liebensohn

In search of truth amidst the human condition. Singer/songwriter at and Video Producer at

Posted on by Mike Liebensohn in Video Marketing, YouTube Marketing

3 Responses to How To Enable & Upload Custom YouTube Thumbnails

  1. Lisa Krasnow

    Thank you so much for providing this very helpful tip. I battled with that issue already many times, and now know what to do. What resolution do you recommend for creating YouTube videos? Once I know my resolution for the videos, then I would know what resolution to use for my thumbnail or other title screens on the video.

  2. Mike Liebensohn

    typically I’ll do 1280×720 on videos meant for YouTube, but there’s no reason you can’t still shoot full 1080 – YouTube will encode it down to what it wants anyway, so it doesn’t really matter

    and the thumbnail image I go with the same resolution of the video

  3. David Pollard

    Mike, you are awesome!
    Thanks so much for making it clear and easy to follow. It worked and didn’t take me more than five minutes. Great post!


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