How to Use YouTube Thumbnails in WordPress

Are you looking for a way to use YouTube thumbnails in WordPress? YouTubers spend hours making quality video content and before anyone clicks on a video they see the title of the video and the thumbnail. These are attention grabbers and it is common for a YouTuber to spend hours setting up the perfect thumbnail image.

It is no surprise that YouTubers would want to also use their thumbnails on their WordPress website. WordPress offers a lot of support for YouTube videos, such as the ability to embed them, and there are many plugins available to add more options. Today, I will demonstrate how to use YouTube thumbnails in WordPress using the Video Thumbnails plugin.

Why Use YouTube Thumbnails in WordPress

While it is common when starting out on YouTube not to spend much time on thumbnails, as you grow, you will quickly realize that thumbnails are important. Social media has made catchy titles and great images essential in earning a click. There are millions of YouTube videos added every day and thumbnails allow them to stand out.

It is normal to spend hours setting up a perfect thumbnail image for certain topics. For example, if you have ever watched some cooking videos on YouTube, some YouTubers take the time to make hundreds of items to display in a single thumbnail. Not only does this take time, but it also costs money.

For these reasons, using YouTube video thumbnails on your WordPress website makes perfect sense. Having catchy thumbnails for posts and pages that include a YouTube video helps you share the content on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How to Use YouTube Thumbnails in WordPress

Today, I will demonstrate how to use YouTube thumbnails in WordPress using the Video Thumbnails plugin. The first thing that you should notice about this plugin is that it has not been updated in a long time, but still has 100,000 active installs. While using outdated plugins should never be your first thought, some of them work perfectly, like this one, but there are security risks you need to be aware of.

It is always recommended to use the latest version of any plugin. This is because older versions become more vulnerable to hackers. This makes outdated plugins an easy target for hackers who want to gain access to your website. Of course, there are multiple security plugins that can protect your website and minimize the risk involved. Use this plugin at your own risk.

This plugin not only supports YouTube videos, but also Twitch, Daily Motion, Vimeo, and many other videos.

Installing Video Thumbnails

Let’s start by clicking on Plugins and selecting the Add New option on the left-hand admin panel.

Search for Video Thumbnails in the available search box. This will pull up additional plugins that you may find helpful.

Scroll down until you find the Video Thumbnails plugin and click on the “Install Now” button and activate the plugin for use.

On the left-hand admin panel click on Settings and select the Video Thumbnails option. This will pull up the main settings page.

Setting Up Video Thumbnails

This plugin is quite easy to set up. You can select what post types will be able to use YouTube video thumbnails as their thumbnails and other settings.

One of these settings is the option to save the thumbnails to your media library automatically. It is turned on by default and I recommend leaving it on. Having it saved in the media library will prevent slower load times. Otherwise, your website needs to communicate with the video source to obtain the thumbnail, thus increasing load times.

The other option is also on by default and requires the last option to be on. It will set the thumbnail as the featured image. Choose to keep this option on or off.

The last options include choosing the post types that this will work on. Pick the options that best suit your website.

You will also notice other tabs that you can use for extra features. If you have plans of using Vimeo, Tudou, or Google Drive videos, you will need to use the Providers tab to enter the appropriate information. The other tabs, Mass Actions, Debugging, and Support are self-explanatory. When you are done making changes, click on the “Save Changes” button.

Displaying YouTube Video Thumbnails

Now that the plugin has been set up, go to an existing page or post or make a new one with a type that you chose in the previous step. If you did not select a specific post type and want to use it, you will need to go back into the plugin’s settings and select it.

You need to add the YouTube video URL in the post or page. It can be placed anywhere on the page. This will automatically embed the video in WordPress. Once the video has been added to the post or page, click on the “Update” or “Publish” button.

You will see a box on the right-hand screen called Video Thumbnail. After the post has been published with a YouTube video URL inside of it, you can view the YouTube thumbnail here.

This is the image that will be used as the thumbnail for your page or post content. This should be an automatic process as long as your theme supports post thumbnails. Since this is an extremely basic feature, most WordPress themes will support it. If not, you can change your theme or edit the code of your theme.

If your theme does not support it, you must locate the following code:[ht_message mstyle=”info” title=”” show_icon=”” id=”” class=”” style=”” ]”>[/ht_message]

Then you must replace that code with the following:[ht_message mstyle=”info” title=”” show_icon=”” id=”” class=”” style=”” ]


The code location is dependent on what theme you are currently using. It is typically found within the content.php, index.php, category.php, or archive.php file.

Congratulation, you have successfully used your YouTube thumbnail as the thumbnail for a page or post in WordPress.

Use Your Content

If you run a YouTube channel and a WordPress website it makes sense to use the resources you have for both. This is especially true if your website was created to support your YouTube channel’s growth and sell merchandise. It is also important to note that you do not need to create the video for the plugin to work. However, you can easily run into a copyright situation if you use another person’s work.

Why do you want to use YouTube thumbnails in WordPress? Do you find the Video Thumbnail plugin helpful?

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