Why Can’t I Add Custom Thumbnails for YouTube Shorts?

YouTube Shorts are the popular short-form vertical videos that creators make and share on YouTube. When you upload a YouTube Short, you likely noticed the option to add a custom thumbnail. But why does YouTube allow custom thumbnails for Shorts when they are meant to be brief, in-the-moment videos?

Let’s explore the reasons behind why you can add custom thumbnails for YouTube Shorts.

What are YouTube Shorts?

YouTube Shorts are short-form videos that are 15 seconds or less in length. They are designed for creating and sharing quick videos using just a mobile device. Shorts offer creators a way to express themselves and engage audiences through brief, entertaining bite-sized content.

Purpose of Custom Thumbnails

The option to add custom thumbnails gives creators more control over the viewer experience. Thumbnails are the first thing people see before clicking on a video. An eye-catching thumbnail makes it more likely to grab attention and get clicks.

A custom thumbnail can better convey what the Short is about or the creator’s style rather than just having an auto-generated screenshot. So it helps draw more viewers in.

Benefits of Custom Shorts Thumbnails

Some key benefits of using custom thumbnails for Shorts are:

  • Increased clickthrough rate – Unique thumbnails stand out more in the Shorts feed.
  • Branding and style – Thumbnails let creators establish a visual style and identity.
  • Flexibility – Custom thumbnails work well for any type of Short, from tutorials to comedy skits.
  • Control – Creators have more control over the thumbnail rather than relying on YouTube’s screenshot.
  • Context – A thumbnail image can communicate what the Short is about before viewing.
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Requirements for Shorts Thumbnails

While YouTube allows custom Shorts thumbnails, there are a few requirements:

  • 9:16 aspect ratio to fit the vertical Shorts player
  • JPG, PNG or WEBP format
  • Under 2 MB file size
  • Minimum resolution of 720×1280 pixels

Following these specifications ensures the custom thumbnail will look and work properly with the Short video.

How to Add a Custom Thumbnail

Adding a custom thumbnail when uploading a Short is simple:

  1. Click the “Custom thumbnail” option when uploading your Short.
  2. Select your prepared 9:16 ratio thumbnail image file.
  3. YouTube will automatically crop and optimize the image as needed.
  4. The custom thumbnail will now display when your Short is live.

Tips for Creating Effective Shorts Thumbnails

  • Use bold colors and text that pop against the background.
  • Include engaging faces, reactions, or imagery relevant to the Short’s content.
  • Keep important elements near the center, avoiding the outer edges YouTube may crop.
  • Add captions, emojis, or other overlays to make it more eye-catching.
  • Ensure the image looks good cropped to a circle, since YouTube shows Shorts thumbnails as circles in some contexts.

YouTube Shorts vs TikTok Differences

One key difference between YouTube Shorts and TikTok is the ability to use custom video thumbnails. On TikTok, only the first frame of the video can be used as the thumbnail.

But YouTube gives creators more control and customization options with separately uploaded Shorts thumbnails.

FAQs About Shorts Thumbnails

Can I change the thumbnail after uploading my Short?

Yes, you can edit the custom thumbnail at any time after uploading your Short through YouTube Studio.

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What if I don’t add a custom thumbnail to my Short?

YouTube will automatically generate and select a thumbnail from a high-interest moment in your Short video.

Do all Shorts require a custom thumbnail?

No, custom thumbnails are optional. YouTube will use an auto-generated thumbnail for Shorts uploaded without one.

What thumbnail size does YouTube recommend for Shorts?

YouTube recommends a minimum of 720×1280 pixels for Shorts custom thumbnails. Aim for high-quality images.


The ability to add custom thumbnails gives YouTube Shorts creators more control over their content. Unique and compelling thumbnails help grab viewer attention which is crucial for the success of Shorts. Just be sure to follow the proper specifications when designing custom Shorts thumbnails.

With YouTube Shorts being a rapidly growing format, taking advantage of custom thumbnails can help creators maximize views and engagement.


  • Adekiya Joscor

    Am a Tech blogger | Content Writer | Website designer | Freelancer | YouTuber. Need any of my help? Use any of the social handles below to get to me.

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