Wordpress & Web Development

How To Add YouTube Thumbnail Images To Your Video Blog Post

Christian Cawley 02-07-2014

Instead of searching around for a suitable image to feature for your video blog post, why not use an image from the video itself?

Visual Advantages Of Having A Featured Image Based On Your Embedded Video Clip

One of the most useful aspects of video hosting websites is the ability to embed a favourite clip into your own website. YouTube and Vimeo in particular offer this functionality, and having a good quality, watchable clip in your blog post will enable you offer something different to your readers. Better still, they’ll hang around on your site for longer!

There was a time when adding a video clip to your post would require you to find a suitable image to accompany it for the main page of your blog, but this is no longer a problem. Now you can use these methods to find and upload a relevant, related image.

Manually Capturing An Image From YouTube

Perhaps the most obvious option is to manually capture the image as you play it on YouTube. You’ll need a screenshot capture app to do this, perhaps SnagIT or GreenShot. In later versions of Windows you’ll be able to use the Snipping Tool to capture elements on your desktop.


You can then upload this snap and use it as your featured image The Complete Guide to Featured Thumbnails and Image Sizes in WordPress Here's everything you need to know about image sizes in WordPress and managing featured images. Read More , accompanying your post. This should display on your blog’s home page if you use a magazine-style layout. If you’re using WordPress and can set a post type in your theme, it might appear with a “play” icon overlaid to tell users that it is a video post.

Image Thumbnails Are Already Waiting For You On YouTube

If you would rather grab the thumbnails that have already been selected for the clip you’re using, then the best option is to head to YouTube and find them.

YouTube has provided a URL for this purpose:


To use this, begin by replacing VIDEO_ID with the ID of your video, as illustrated here, using Dave Le Clair’s trip to the MAGFest Classic Games con as an example. Here’s the clip:

You’ll need to change the # symbol to 0, 1, 2 or 3. The first option will display a larger image, 480×360 or bigger depending on the resolution of the video, whereas selecting 1, 2 or 3 will show a 120×90 pixel image. You’ll probably want the 0.jpg image for your blog.

Here are the thumbnails, http://img.youtube.com/vi/brBIHjj3lm8/1.jpg, http://img.youtube.com/vi/brBIHjj3lm8/2.jpg and http://img.youtube.com/vi/brBIHjj3lm8/3.jpg, with the larger image, http://img.youtube.com/vi/brBIHjj3lm8/0.jpg, at the bottom.




Vimeo offers a similar feature, but it’s a little fiddly. Rather than entering a customizable URL, try this web app. All you need to do is enter the Vimeo-ID into the field, click Get Thumbnail and save the image that appears.

Use The Video Thumbnails App For WordPress

Finding, saving and uploading these thumbnails to your blog is still a little slow, however. If expedience is your aim, there isn’t much difference in time between finding a thumbnail manually and using a custom URL.

Fortunately, for WordPress bloggers there is a very useful plugin you can use, that supports YouTube, Vimeo and many other video services. Although other thumbnails are available for this, Video Thumbnails is perhaps the most popular, and for good reason. Let’s take a closer look at the plugin now.

Solve Your Problem Easily With Video Thumbnails

In your self-hosted WordPress blog, log in to your admin account and in the Dashboard open Plugins > Add New. Use the search tool to find Video Thumbnails and check the details of the plugin, ensuring compatibility with your current version. If there is an issue here, you will probably need to upgrade your current WordPress installation. When you’re happy, click Install to proceed, and Activate the plugin.

With Video Thumbnail installed, what should happen is that when you add a YouTube URL (in the format https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIDEO_ID) to your blog post, the plugin will find the URL and pull the 0.jpg image from the YouTube server, setting it as your post’s featured image.


In the WordPress post editor, there should be a new section labelled Video Thumbnail (open Screen Options at the top of the page to check that it is active) where you can see the selected thumbnail, which will also be displayed in the Featured Image box. If none appears, click Reset Video Thumbnail to have the plugin scan again.

For further troubleshooting options, open Settings > Video Thumbnail and select the Debugging tab, where you can Test Video Providers, Test Markup for Video and Test Saving to Media Library.


Meanwhile, use the General tab to set a custom field for your YouTube embed code, in case the standard method of embedding videos isn’t working with the plugin.

Video Thumbnails Save Time & Look Great

Any website that regularly features video clips should take a look at these methods. If you’re a WordPress blog owner, the Video Thumbnails plugin is an excellent way to save time adding a featured image for your post while ensuring everything looks great.

Have you tried these suggestions? Do you use Video Thumbnails for WordPress, or have you found a plugin that surpasses it? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: Image Converter, Wordpress Plugins, YouTube.

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  1. Waqas
    October 13, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Dear Sir,

    Could there be any copyright issues if you use YouTube thumbnail images on your website?

    • Christian Cawley
      October 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

      IF a video is available for embedding, then the thumbnail is produced to support this. The owner of the video is aware of this when they make their uploads available to embed, so it would seem unlikely that there would be an issue.

      • Waqas
        October 14, 2016 at 5:05 am

        All right, thanks for the information, Christian!

  2. suresh
    May 11, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    I am using bloggertheme9.com Techlife template for free. This template is awsome, but i want to use youtube video thumbnail instead of image thumbnail in the posts. can you do that?

    Waiting for your reply...suresh

    • Christian Cawley
      May 11, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Unless it's blocked by the theme's own solution or a plugin conflict, there's no reason why not!

  3. the204guy
    April 30, 2015 at 5:38 am

    I installed it just now from your advice and it's exactly what I was looking for. Works great.

  4. marc
    August 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Christian, is there any option to make the same WordPress' thumbnail personalization on Blogger? I can't find any tip for adding a personalized image on Youtube embed videos thumbnail.

    Any help will be appreciated.

    • Christian C
      August 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Not that I'm aware of, sadly. I haven't used Blogger for some time, but I'm surprised YouTube isn't better integrated in this way.

  5. Swetank R
    July 2, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you for the tip! I was searching for it.