How to Grab a High Resolution Version of a YouTube Thumbnail Image

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So, you want to grab a hi-res copy of a YouTube thumbnail? Here’s a little trick I use when I need a big, beautiful version for client presentations, a newsletter or my research notes.

You’ll have to get your digital hands dirty and copy and paste a section of the video’s link, but don’t worry. It’s easy.

First, locate the ID in the URL of the YouTube video that you want the larger thumbnail for. The video ID is bolded in the example below. It looks like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHqk_k8kos

You’ve probably noticed it’s located right after the = in the URL. It always is, as far as I can tell.

Now, copy and paste the following URL into the search bar of a new browser tab or window.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PASTEIDHERE/maxresdefault.jpg

Then copy and paste your video’s ID where it says PASTEIDHERE and hit ‘enter’ or ‘return’ to open it in your browser.

You should see the largest available image of the thumbnail.

You can save the large thumbnail by dragging it to your desktop on a Mac or whatever you do on Windows.

Of course, not all videos have hi-res thumbnails. If you see a 404 error the creator of the video didn’t upload a hi-res version.

In that case, you can try this URL to see if they used a standard definition image.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PASTEIDHERE/hqdefault.jpg

Again, paste your video’s ID where it says PASTEIDHERE.

With any luck there will be a standard version of the thumbnail. If not, you’ll get that darn 404 error message again.

In my experience most videos created in the last five years or so have at least one of these larger thumbnail images available.

I hope this was helpful. Happy thumbnailing!

Hi, I’m Keith Monaghan. I’m a researcher. I help creative teams understand the big picture of their project before they start. Once the project starts, I help them understand the details.

Informed team. Awesome project. Happy clients.

How can I help your team with their project?


Keith Monaghan