Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

Get YouTube Thumbnail Images

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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 AND, I’ve added a quick tool for you to grab the images from a YouTube video ID.

  • Public or unlisted only (private videos won't work):

Quick Tip: 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.

Below 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 is 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 (120×90)

3rd Thumbnail Image, Small (120×90)

2nd | Default Thumbnail Image, Small (120×90)

Default Thumbnail Image, Full-Size (480×360)

I hope this helps.


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