YouTube: How to Use YouTube Thumbnail Images

Many of us are really handy with Photoshop to create video thumbnail images for any of our videos. But, if you could save time by not having to create video thumbnail images each time, why wouldn’t you do it?

Whether your video is housed only on your website or only on YouTube, you should be uploading your videos on YouTube to leverage the additional views. One of the advantages of uploading your videos to YouTube is leveraging their assets so you don’t have to recreate the wheel especially if you find the volume of your videos is outpacing your ability to create thumbnails or just the fact that you want to make your process of creating videos, uploading them and creating thumbnail images for each video is taking longer than you’d like. One way to make this process faster is simply using YouTube’s automatically generated thumbnail.

Here’s How:

Each YouTube video has 4 generated images and they’re stored on YouTube’s image server. Now all you need to do is copy and paste your YouTube video’s ID replacing below and decide which image you’d like to use by specifying which of the image names below:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/0.jpg
https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/1.jpg
https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/2.jpg
https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/3.jpg

The first one in the list is a full size image and others are thumbnail images. The default thumbnail image (ie. one of 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg) is:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/default.jpg
For the high quality version of the thumbnail use a url similar to this:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/hqdefault.jpg
There is also a medium quality version of the thumbnail, using a url similar to the HQ:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/mqdefault.jpg
For the standard definition version of the thumbnail, use a url similar to this:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/sddefault.jpg
For the maximum resolution version of the thumbnail use a url similar to this:

https://img.youtube.com/vi/(replace-with-video-id)/maxresdefault.jpg
All of the above urls are available over http too. Additionally, the slightly shorter hostname i3.ytimg.com works in place of img.youtube.com in the example urls above.

Alternatively, you can use the YouTube Data API to get thumbnail images.

Anytime I need to use YouTube’s video thumbnail, I use “0” because its larger its the video thumbnail I selected in the Video Manager.

Hope this helps.

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