Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

The other day, when I was editing the weekly viral video roundup post, it occurred to me that it would be nice to display a thumbnail image for the post, taken from one of the videos in his review.  I thought I'd write a short post to show you how to easily pull thumbnail images for a YouTube video.

How To Download A Thumbnail Image From YouTube

There are a few different ways that you can get thumbnails from a YouTube video, one of which is to use YouTube's Video API to extract the thumbnail. YouTube API responses may contain multiple thumbnail images for a video, each of which is identified by a <media:thumbnail> tag.  Creating a call to YouTube to get the video and thumbnail information can take some time and when you are like me and don't know a think about writing code, then the API is relatively useless.  For me, I needed a simple way to pull down a thumbnail and thankfully, there is a simple way to do this.

Here is the YouTube URL format that you will need in order to view and download a thumbnail from a YouTube video:


... where for the video example above, VIDEO_ID=bQVoAWSP7k4 and # (1,2, or 3) corresponds to one of the 3 thumbnails that YouTube automatically generates.

#2, is the default thumbnail, or the one that the owner ends up choosing for their video.

Using this convention, below are the URLs and the thumbnails that I was able to pull off of YouTube for the "wedding proposal" video from Jeremy's post.

1st Thumbnail Image, Small (120x90)


Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

3rd Thumbnail Image, Small (120x90)


Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

2nd | Default Thumbnail Image, Small (120x90)


Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

Default Thumbnail Image, Full-Size (480x360)


Quick Tip: How To Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

I hope helps.

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Posted in Youtube Marketing
About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

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