Blurry Thumbnails on YouTube Videos: What is the Deal?

Blurry Thumbnails on YouTube Videos: What is the Deal?

We have all been there before. You spend hours perfecting your latest video, only to upload it to YouTube and see that your cleverly crafted thumbnail is blurry. You have already exhausted enough time making the video and creating the perfect thumbnail…now you have to agonize over what went wrong with this blurry thumbnail.

So… why is a thumbnail blurry on YouTube videos? There are several reasons your YouTube video thumbnail might be blurry: you forgot to select video quality, the image itself is not high-res enough, there’s a user glitch (and your thumbnail does not appear blurry to others), you might have chosen a tough-to-work-with font, or the thumbnail is blurred out for “age verification”.

No matter the reason, we hope to provide you with the tools necessary to resolve the problem as quickly and as easily as possible.

» MORE: How Long Does It Take YouTube To Change A Thumbnail?

How to Fix Blurry YouTube Thumbnails

There are several ways to go about ensuring your thumbnails do not appear blurry on YouTube. Your specific issue will decide which of these steps will solve the problem for you.

Step 1: Check Quality

If you are using an auto-generated thumbnail, it may be blurry because the actual video is not HD.

To confirm the quality of the video, when in YouTube, on the left-hand side of your browser, you will see a long panel of buttons, ranging from library, history, your videos, watch later, and liked videos. Here is how to check the quality:

  1. Click on your videos.
  2. Once on the videos page, click on the video whose thumbnail appears blurry.
  3. Once the video opens in a new window, press pause.
  4. On the bottom right-hand border of the video, there are size icons.
  5. Click on the six-sided-wheel icon, which reads “settings” when you hover your cursor above it.
  6. Once the settings box appears, click on quality.

The quality menu will you provide you with the following thumbnail/video quality options:

  • 2160p
  • 1080p
  • 720p
  • 480p
  • 360p
  • 240p
  • 144p
  • Auto

Make sure that your videos loading is at least 1080p to get a clear auto-generated thumbnail. If the video is not in 1080p, it may be best to consider making a custom thumbnail if possible (more on that later).

Step 2: Log Out and Refresh

Many YouTube users have reported off-and-on glitches in which YouTube’s platform makes their video thumbnails appear blurry when in the ‘videos’ page, as discussed above. However, some users have found that when they log out of their YouTube account and search for their video in the YouTube search bar, that their video thumbnail suddenly appears high-quality.

It is possible that what looks blurry to you in your account, does not actually look blurry to the rest of the world. If this is the case, then you do not need to stress about trying to resize and recreate a high-resolution thumbnail. Just log out, search for your video, and see what the public is seeing. Your thumbnail may be perfectly fine!

You can try using a private (or incognito) browser for this as well.

Step 3: Resize Thumbnail Manually

In some instances, you may need to edit the thumbnail you are trying to use. If your thumbnail is too low-res, then you will need to make a high-resolution version to upload instead. The specifics of re-editing will depend on what photo editing software or app you are using.

Regardless of the program, YouTube recommends the following Image Size & Resolution for successful thumbnails:

  • Resolution of the image should be 1280×720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels)
  • Upload in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG
  • Must be under the 2MB limit

Hot Tip: if using a program like Photoshop, export the file using the “save for web” settings. This may help to keep your high-res photo from being too large to upload but prevent YouTube from resizing it on their end.

» MORE: Is PNG or JPEG Better for YouTube Thumbnails?

Step 4: Choose a Different Font

Some people have encountered an issue, not with the photo thumbnail itself, but with the font. Unfortunately, certain fonts, at certain sizes, simply appear blurry once exported, especially when smushed down into the small viewing size of a thumbnail.

In this case, you can do one of two things: edit the font size or change the font entirely. Many fonts downloaded for free on the internet do not maintain a high resolution when exported. This is understandably frustrating when you are attempting to create unique looking thumbnails that do not look like you created them in ‘word processor.’

However, if the blurry font is bothersome, resizing or changing the font is your best bet.

Try using a YouTube thumbnail maker because they include copyright-free fonts that keep their high quality when exported.

Step 5: Make a Custom Thumbnail Instead of Using the Provided One

The reason your thumbnail is blurry may be because you are still using the automatically generated video thumbnail YouTube picked out for you. If this is the case, the screengrab YouTube captured might have been filled with too much motion, causing noise & blur.

We highly recommend you upload a custom thumbnail. This allows you to control the quality of the photo, as well as the content (which will help you maximize your YouTube clicks.)

» MORE: How To Make a Custom YouTube Thumbnail [YouTube Tutorial]

How to Make Custom Thumbnails for your YouTube Videos

Assuming you have gone through the YouTube verification process, you are now able to upload a custom thumbnail. To do this, go into YouTube Studio, click on the Content on the left side, select the video, then click on add custom thumbnail. This will allow you to browse your computer for an image of your choice.

We recommend taking time to create a unique and captivating thumbnail. You can do this by considering some of the following ideas:

  • Take your photographs while filming, or the day of, so that you’ll have a high-quality image for the thumbnail.
  • Remember to follow YouTubes size & format guidelines (listed above).
  • People’s eyes are drawn to other people more than a landscape or blank canvas of color. Therefore, we recommend having a person featured in your thumbnail.
  • Use bold text to explain what your video promises.
  • Only use thumbnails that accurately depict the content of the video (do not use click-bait thumbnails! It is bad form).
  • Use bright, eye-grabbing colors and textures.
  • Include a branded element in the thumbnail (if appropriate).

You can use Photoshop or similar editing software to create these thumbnails. For those without Photoshop experience, we recommend hiring a freelance thumbnail artist, or using a YouTube thumbnail maker.

» MORE: Can You Use Logos in Your YouTube Thumbnails?

Are There Programs or Apps for Making YouTube Thumbnails?

Yes! There are quite a few excellent apps available that make thumbnail creation easy and transferable to the YouTube platform.

  • Placeit – This is our preferred design program because it has the most creative abilities. Not only can you customize YouTube Thumbnail templates, but you can also create custom mockups to use as images on your thumbnails. These mockups can be iPhones, computers, people, apparel, mugs, or whatever your video topic is.
  • Canva – This is another well known thumbnail creator. It offers customizable YouTube specific thumbnail design, and you can swap photos and colors out very easily.
  • Backgrounderif you are looking for a way to make unique thumbnails that really pop, backgrounder provides a multitude of customized pro art, vectors, and thumbnail presets specifically for YouTube videos.
  • PhotoshopPhotoshop is the priciest option available, and its less user friendly as adobe products take a lot of tutorials to learn. However, once you do master the quick tools in this program, there really is no better application for creating truly dynamic images.
  • FotorA thumbnail made-easy app that gives you YouTube thumbnail presets for various types of YouTubing (i.e., food vloggers vs. how-to-ers).
  • FotojetThis app for photo editing, graphic design, and collage creations. Fotojet also lets you create very high-quality version thumbnails which you can easily resize and edit.
  • PicMonkeyA thumbnail maker app that offers several filters, overlays, stylized fonts, and unique frames. Bonus? Allows facial touch-ups in the thumbnail creation process! PicMonkey also offers thumbnail design templates, which streamlines the thumbnail making process.

BONUS: Placeit was kind enough to extend a 15% off discount to All Free Mockups readers. You can find the coupon here.

The Key Take Away?

Blurry YouTube video thumbnails are frustrating. However, we hope we have given you the proper solution to make your thumbnails high-quality, high-resolution, and eye-grabbing.

There are so many excellent apps and programs to help you create YouTube appropriate thumbnail images. If you follow the YouTube thumbnail guidelines and double-check the five steps we suggested above, we are confident you will be able to avoid blurry thumbnails moving forward!