Content Marketing, Marketing & Sales Videos, Marketing Tools

How to Generate a YouTube Thumbnail

Is it possible to generate a thumbnail for a YouTube video? Yes! It’s useful to display thumbnails with links in sidebars, or to replace the YouTube embed code with a video within your RSS feed or email. This is already a feature of some email platforms, like WordPress Newsletter Plugin. Attempting to write your own YouTube thumbnail generator could be quite a task.

The good news is that you don’t have to generate a thumbnail, YouTube has several waiting for you.

Here’s a video URL – notice the video id?

Here are the images in a couple sizes and frames, note the video id is embedded in the URL:


An easy way to embed the thumbnails in your sidebar would be to enter the image URL manually as a custom field, then customize your theme to display the custom field if it exists.

Download a Sponsored Marketing Whitepaper:
Engage at Every Stage - An Investigation of Video Activation

Engage at Every Stage - An Investigation of Video Activation

Reports about incomplete and inaccurate reporting of video performance on Facebook and Google and brand safety issues on YouTube are causing marketers to question their video investments. Download Now


  1. 1

    Doug, I’m not sure I’m clear on what you are saying here. I could really use thie feature. Are you saying you can just take your YouTube video URL and append /0.jpg to it to get a thumbnail? Is this a dynamic image?

    Your example goes up to /2.jpg. Is that frame 2? What does the 0, 1 or 2 represent? How high can you go?

    Sorry for all of the questions but this really piqued my interest. Thanks!

  2. 2

    Hi Patric,

    No, you can’t just append a /0.jpg – notice the subdomain and the path are a bit different. No, the image is not dynamic, it’s static. I’m not sure what the number represents but 0 is a large image, 1 and 2 appear to be smaller images that are from different frames.


  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 7
  7. 8
  8. 10
  9. 12

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.