How to use Youtube to dynamically create higher resolution video thumbnails

Created by Jason McWhorter, Modified on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 at 04:26 PM by Jason McWhorter

By default, your Digital Deployment website uses Youtube's servers to dynamically create video preview images with a resolution of 480x360. However Youtube has the ability to dynamically create larger thumbnails. This bigger thumbnail is entirely dependent on the original resolution of the video uploaded. Here's how you can create your own, but first here is examples of what's possible :)


default size (480x360)

Standard size (640x480)

Max Quality (Original size of the video, in this case 1800x1080)

How to:

When adding a Youtube video to the website you use a url like

The information we need to generate alternate thumbnails is the last bit, BlMllbwfuTM featured after the equals sign (=). This is the youtube_ID of the video. Using the table below you can see the breakdown.

Quality Resolution  Value  URL
Default 480x360 0


Standard 640x480 (Might not be available) sddefault


Maximum Max (Might not be available) maxresdefault

  1. Replace the youtube_ID portion of the URL featured above eg.

  2. Plug that newly created URL into the location bar of any web browser

  3. If a maximum quality is available it will appear and continue on in Step 3, if not you may get a broken image like this. If you do get a broken image, continue on to step 4...

    If you succeeded, Right click the image in the browser and select the Save Image As

    Then select your computers desktop as the save destination. You can also feel free to rename the file to whatever you want. Press Save

  4. Oh no, a broken image. Now what? Let's try the Standard quality version using the same format but change out maxresdefault with sddefault.

  5. Hopefully you've successfully dynamically created a bigger thumbnail, congratulations :D If not you can always watch the movie on Youtube and grab a screen capture. If you're on a Mac just use the one built in. Press Command + Shift + 3 which should take a screenshot and place the image on your desktop. You can also take only a portion of your screen by pressing Command + Shift + 4 and then drag the target around the area you which to include in the screenshot. If you're on a PC try using the Snipping Tool. It's not as user friendly as the Mac one but it works well. Here is a tutorial. If you have successfully created a bigger version, continue on to Step 6. If not, then just resort to using the default size of 480x360 and I'm sorry :(

  6. Now we just need to add that newly created image to your website post which will feature the video.

  7. Add the Youtube video URL in the top field

  8. Then click the "Choose File" under the Video custom thumbnail label and add your new video thumbnail you saved 

  9. Save the post and you should now have a big video thumbnail preview featured within your post :D


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