YouTube is the largest social network for video content on the web, and it's home to videos from every corner of the internet. No matter who you are or what types of videos you're making, using YouTube effectively can help you reach a wide and engaged audience. But YouTube is massively popular (nearly 5 billion videos are viewed per day!), so it can be really tough to cut through the noise and attract viewers.

One great way to bring attention to your YouTube videos is to use flashy, polished, and exciting thumbnail images. And while YouTube has been developing their beta version of YouTube Studio with new, powerful video editing tools, there's still no way to produce a custom thumbnail image using YouTube. You're only given 3 thumbnail options in YouTube, so the first step to creating an eye-catching thumbnail image is to grab a frame from the video you're using. Here's how to do it in 3 simple steps, for free and online:

  1. Upload Your Video to Kapwing
  2. Choose the Frame You Want to Use
  3. Process & Download!

Step 1: Upload Your Video to Kapwing

You can find your videos anywhere on the Internet (Drive, DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok) – you can even grab a thumbnail from a video that's already been published to YouTube and edit it again! All you need to do is copy the link to the video.

And if the video you want to use is saved on your device, just make sure you know where it's located. If you're uploading videos from your own device, it's a good idea to have your file browser open, so you can click & drag your content into the Kapwing Studio.

Step 2: Choose the Frame You Want to Use

This step couldn’t be any easier. Simply choose “JPEG” from the left-hand side of the window. Then, move the slider under your video until you’ve reached the frame that you want to capture!

*Note: If you’re using a longer video, you can trim your video first by clicking "Trim Video" at the top of the window, then use your trimmed video to choose your snapshot more precisely.

Step 3: Process & Download!

Once you’ve chosen the perfect freeze-frame from your video, you’re ready to process your JPEG file! Just click “Create” from the bottom left-hand corner of the window. Kapwing will automatically work its magic and your snapshot will be ready to download in no time. Once Kapwing is done processing, simply click “Download." If you're using a mobile device, select "Download," then press and hold on the video to save it to your camera roll. Your still photo is now on your device and ready for you to share anywhere!

From the download page, you can also click "Open in Studio" to make more edits to your thumbnail image. For example, I added some custom text layers to make the thumbnail stand out from the crowd:

In the Studio, you can add other images, logos, text, and shapes, as well as cropping, repositioning, and adding custom filters to your picture.  

Uploading Your Thumbnail Image to YouTube:

Once you've grabbed your thumbnail picture, you still need to know what to do with it. If you're going to use it for a video you're about to publish to YouTube, go through the standard upload protocol: hit the upload button at the top of the window (it looks like a camera), drag & drop or browse for your video file, add your title, description, & tags. Then, select "Custom Thumbnail" near the bottom of the screen, and find the snapshot you pulled using Kapwing in your file browser.

If you want to change the thumbnail on a video you've already uploaded, go to your video and click "Edit Video" under the player. Under the "Thumbnail" section, click the left-most option and choose the file you made using Kapwing in your file browser.

Remember to tag us @KapwingApp whenever you share your content on social media– we love to see what our creators are passionate about! And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources library – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.

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