How to Automatically Generate Youtube Video Thumbnail in WordPress

Including videos in the blog posts could be an excellent idea to bring some variety in your content. Nowadays, most bloggers have their own video channels (so does Harsh Agarwal, the founder of ShoutMeLoud).

If you have a video channel in YouTube and frequently embed the videos in your website, you should generate proper thumbnails for them. An appropriate thumbnail will provide your visitors with a better chance to understand what the video contains and what to expect from it.

While it is possible to create a thumbnail manually, there are easier options for smart Shouters like you. In today’s post, I will show you how to generate YouTube video thumbnails for WordPress within a minute.

You can also use Tubebuddy to generate thumbnail using your existing video. Also check out this awesome youtube tip in below video:

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Note: This plugin works for Vine, Twitch, Vimeo & few others along with Youtube.

Getting Started with Video Thumbnails plugin:

In order to add video thumbnails, we will use the Video Thumbnails plugin. You can download this excellent, free plugin from WordPress plugin repository.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, it will create a new submenu titled ‘Video Thumbnails’ under the ‘Settings’ menu.

Setting up Video Thumbnails

Go to Settings > Video Thumbnails to setup the plugin options. You will be taken to a screen like the following –

Video Thumbnails
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As you can see, the settings page is divided into several tabs. ‘General’, the first tab includes the basic options. By default, the first two options will be checked. Among them, ‘Save Thumbnails to Media Library’ will save a copy of the video thumbnail in your server.

The next one will automatically set the thumbnail as the featured image for that post. However, if you have already selected a featured image, that will not be changed by the plugin.

Then, in the ‘Post Types’ field, you can select for which post types you want to enable the video thumbnails. After making the necessary changes, click ‘Save Changes’.

The ‘Providers’ tab lets you configure various options if you are using videos from other sources like Vimeo, Tufou or Google Drive. Since we are concentrating only on YouTube videos, we can skip this tab.

Next, the ‘Mass Actions’ tab has two advanced options. ‘Scan All Posts’ will scan all the published posts and add video thumbnails where applicable. ‘Clear all Video Thumbnails’ will delete all the existing video thumbnails created by the plugin.

Video Thumbnails
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The ‘Debugging’ tab lets you run some basic tests to make sure that the plugin is working properly. And lastly, the ‘Support’ tab includes solution to some common problems.

How to add Video Thumbnail in WordPress:

Now that you have gone through the configuration process, let’s see how to add video thumbnails to a post.

For this purpose, you can create a new post or edit an existing post. In the post editor, you will notice a new metabox titled ‘Video Thumbnail’.

Video Thumbnails
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Since I don’t have any video in the post, the meta box couldn’t find any thumbnail for the post. Now, find out the video you want to include and copy the video URL.

Then, get back to the post editor and paste the URL where you want to display the video. WordPress will automatically convert the URL into an embedded video player.

Click ‘Update’. In the next screen, you will see that the plugin has automatically created a video thumbnail and also set the thumbnail as the featured image (if you didn’t set a featured image manually).

Video Thumbnails
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If you have checked the relevant option in the settings section, the video thumbnail will also be saved in the media library. You can use the thumbnail for promoting the post or other activities.

Video Thumbnails
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Final Remarks

The Video Thumbnails plugin lets you save some time by creating the thumbnails automatically. If the plugin was not available, you had to open each video, take screenshots, edit them and finally upload them to your website. That is a long, tedious and unproductive way for smart shouters like you.

Let me know your thoughts about the plugin. If you are already using it, don’t forget to share your experience with us. And if you are using any other plugin for creating video thumbnails, let me know the name too.

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Authored By
Foysal loves to dig into WordPress, explore what’s possible and share his knowledge with readers. He also has deep interest in anything related to increasing productivity, writing better and being happy!

18 thoughts on “How to Automatically Generate Youtube Video Thumbnail in WordPress”

  1. Kishor

    Hi Foysal,

    Great article, Your article is really helpful for me. I appreciate you for sharing this article as well for info of tubebuddy. I need your help, I am having a problem in video thumbnail plugin. Video thumbnail plugin was installed & activated. This plugin is automatically set the thumbnail as the featured image for that post but video is not playing in the post. Can you pls help me for the same. Can you pls provide me solution for this issue.

    Big thanks for a such ingenious article.

  2. Danish Raja

    Hey harsh,
    Thanks for the information. But i am having problem in the publicize when i use the plugin “Video Thumbnails” for my my video post. No doubt, it generates the thumbnail but if i activate this plugin in my website it doesn’t allow let jetpack to post on my facebook page.

    I would appreciate your prompt and kind response in this regard.

    Many Thanks

  3. Bhumi

    Nice article and informative too. But can you explain how we can do same thing without using any plugin?

  4. Salekin

    Thank you Faisal Ahmed.
    This post is really helpful for us newbies. I was having a lots of trouble using youtube video.
    Regards Salekin

    1. Foysal Ahmed

      I am glad that you liked the explanation, Salekin. Keep coming back for more interesting articles like this.
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Vairam

    Hi Foysal,

    Its nice to hear that, there is a WordPress plugin for generating a custom thumbnail for videos in WordPress blog. Generally most of the YouTube tutorial videos doesn’t come with proper image, when we are use it in our blog it doesn’t catch much more attention from the readers. So i believe the “Video Thumbnails” plugin will help to fix this issue.

  6. Jiten

    Good article.

    I like the feature which let you scan existing posts for videos and generate thumbnails from (and let you use) the same ).

    A question: Are we allowed to use thumbnails from video? I mean don’t they fall in copyright arena? As the videos we embed are used on public domain of YouTube (for example), we can safely embed them (and actually not host), but the thumbnails are hosted on our server.
    Just curious to know.

    Keep giving good information like this to SML readers.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Let me jump in here, as you brought up an interesting question.
      There is no Copyright issue when you are using thumbnail from a Youtube video, as long as you are using the video too. The video creator should be thankful to you for promoting his work. 🙂

      1. Jiten

        Thanks for clearing the dust @Harsh.

      2. Salekin

        I personally would be thankful is someone promoted my video. There is nothing wrong in it because nobody shares a video in youtube as private 😛 Thanks Harsh for pointing the point.

    2. Ajay

      Their will be no issue as the Thumbnail Images of youtube videos are not right protected. they can be reused by you not only reused but they can also be reused with modification.
      To verify this search for “youtube video thumbnails” in google Images and filter the results with different licenses and you will see that thumbnails images of some popular youtube videos.

    3. Foysal Ahmed

      I think there is nothing left for me.
      Let me finish this mini-discussion by thanking everyone involved 🙂

  7. Siddaiah

    Hi Foysal,

    I have YouTube channel for my blog, till now I don’t know about this plugin, at present I am manually adding thumbnail for my blog post, this is really a nice plugin to add thumbnails to our article automatically.

    I will try this plugin in blog, thank you very much for sharing the information about this plugin.

    1. Foysal Ahmed

      Wow, this plugin could really save some time for you. Let me know if it’s serving you properly.
      Thanks for your comment.

  8. Harvilas Meena

    This is so useful plugin by which we can generate the thumbnail of any Youtube video in WordPress. The Video Thumbnails plugin lets you save some time by creating the thumbnails automatically. If the plugin was not available, you had to open each video, take screenshots, edit them and finally upload them to your website. That is a long, tedious and unproductive way for smart shouters like you.

    1. Foysal Ahmed

      That is a nice summary of the post, Harvilas. Using the plugin is the way to go for smart shouters like us.
      Thanks for your comment.

  9. Teo Coach

    Sorry, I didnt quite understood what are the benefits of the plugin. Does it embedd onlythe image andby clicking it takes u to youtube url where the video is originally?

    1. Foysal Ahmed

      Hi Teo,
      The plugin embeds both the image and the video. You can play the video right from the website. The plugin creates a thumbnail for you and saves it in the media library. You can use the thumbnail as the featured image of the post or for any other purpose.
      Let me know if you have got it now.
      Thanks for your comment.

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