Cover a YouTube video or how to make a video preview

A YouTube video cover or preview is an image that platform users see next to the video title. You can create it in any graphics editor.

As practice shows, people first look at the cover of the video and the inscription on this picture (it can be made larger than the name next to), and only then read its name. Therefore, the cover for the video should be noticeable and reflect its entire essence.

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Read also: How to create a YouTube channel

What is a YouTube video icon and why you need it

When uploading a video to a channel, the platform prompts you to select a cover for your post from the saved video. But it’s better to make pictures for videos separately. And that’s why:

  1. Ability to withstand general channel style… If you always create your own video cover, then all previews will be made in the same style. This will add appeal to your channel.
  2. Using high-quality image… Often, YouTube offers users not the most successful pictures, they can be smeared, and not always on such icons the essence of what is described in the video is conveyed.
  3. Ability to apply several backgrounds on the preview… To make the cover look better, you need to make two backgrounds: the background can be darkened and the user can focus on the foreground. When choosing automatic images, this cannot be achieved.
  4. Using decals… If you want users to understand what the video is about when viewing the preview, then in the graphic editor you can write keywords in the picture, which will increase the number of views.

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Cover requirements: size, format, weight

In order not to violate the principles of the YouTube community, it is necessary to reflect in the pictures for the videos only what is associated with the script of the video itself. To make the audience more willing to go to your video, you need to make the icons bright, use a high-quality image and inscriptions.

Before creating covers for your videos, you need to make sure that it is available to you. To upload your own covers, the channel must have a good reputation, a verified account, and adhere to the YouTube community guidelines. To check it all, go to the “Channel” tab and click on the “Status and functions” button. The screenshot shows that the account adheres to the community guidelines and is verified. If you do not have such a function, you must click on the checkmark next to the cover of the channel. An SMS message or voice notification with a code will be sent to your mobile phone, which you will need to enter in the window that appears.

The picture should not contain scenes of violence and sexual propaganda. Also, a number of technical requirements are imposed on the preview:

  • the size – 1280×720 px;
  • weight – up to 2 MB;
  • aspect ratio: 16: 9 (if this figure is higher, the picture will be cropped to fit the necessary parameters and perhaps not all the necessary information will be visible to users);
  • format – BMP. JPG PNG.

How to create a picture for a YouTube video: step by step instructions

If you do not own graphic editors, you can create preview images using the service Canva

Step 1. Go to the main page of the site: and activate a trial subscription (later you can refuse it and use the service for free).

How to create a picture for a YouTube video: step by step instructionsStep 2. Tab “Template”. Here you can choose a cover for your icon. There are special covers for YouTube on different topics in the templates. If you click on the “All” button, more designs will appear. There are no themes with animals here, so we will go down below and find a suitable template from the proposed ones.

Scrolling through below we saw pictures with animals, we will take the bottom picture with a dog as a basis for the preview.

To upload your image instead of the dog, you need to click on the “Downloads” tab and drag the image from your computer.

Step 3. Elements tab. Here you can add an image for your cover. We have little space left in the picture, and therefore we decided not to overload the preview and did not add elements.

Step 4. Tab “Text”. In this tab, you can add a caption to your cover by choosing a style, size and font color. We have left the template style, changing only the size and shade of the font.

Step 5. Background tab. In this column, you can choose a background for your image. We have selected a grass background that is associated with nature and animals. And so that it does not overlap the text, the inscription was raised a little higher.

Step 6. The picture for the preview is ready so that it appears on the computer, click on the “Download” button. You can choose from different image formats, but it is better to use the first option for uploading to YouTube.

After that, the picture will be saved to your computer. It remains to put it in the video.

Related article: How to post a video to YouTube

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How to put a picture as a video icon on YouTube

To put a picture as a preview, you must perform the following sequence of actions:

  1. Go to the video manager and click on the “Video” tab.
  2. Next to the video where you want to change the cover, click on the “Change” button and in the drop-down menu, click on “Information and settings”.
    How to put a picture as a preview video on YouTube
  3. After that, a menu will open in front of you, where you can edit the selected video. To change the preview, click on the “Change Image” button, where there are several options for covers and you can upload your own.
    Change preview
  4. After that, the computer will prompt you to select a file.
  5. When it is successfully added, you need to wait a few seconds for the update and press the “Save” button.

But if you want to change the video icon when it loads, you shouldn’t leave the page until the video is fully processed. When the processing is completed, you can select the available video icons from below or click on the “Custom icon” button and select the prepared file on your computer.

How to put a video icon on YouTube

After downloading, you need to click on the “Save” or “Publish” button.

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Good and bad examples of video previews

There are millions of videos on YouTube, but not all of them have bright and memorable previews. Below in the table we will tell you which elements should be used on the video cover and which should be discarded.

Common feature How can you do What to avoid
Text A short description on the preview gives the user more chances to know what the video is about. Avoid too small and long text, 2-3 words in a bright and readable font are enough. You should not completely or partially duplicate the title of the video. It is also undesirable to use one text without a picture.
Emotions You will attract more attention of viewers if the picture shows something shocking and extraordinary. If we talk about emotions, it can be laughter, surprise, disappointment. Do not preview with emotions that you do not experience in the video. The picture should fully convey the essence of the video.
Placement of markers Your picture will become more noticeable if you use markers such as selection, arrows, underline, “cloud”. Do not use a lot of such elements, otherwise the icon will be overloaded and this video will definitely not arouse interest.

Here is a whole set of good examples of YouTube video covers: there is text, the main characters of the video, the pictures are bright.

YouTube video cover examples

A YouTube video cover is one of the promotion tools, and the brighter and more beautiful it is, the more chances that users will choose your video for viewing. To do this, you need to make previews yourself and load them when unloading the video.

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