How to Generate a YouTube Thumbnail

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How to Generate a YouTube Thumbnail
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A few minutes ago, I was asked, “Is it possible to generate a thumbnail for a YouTube video?”. This could be useful to display thumbnails with links in your sidebar, or to replace the YouTube embed code with a video within your RSS feed. Attempting to write your own YouTube thumbnail generator could be quite a task.

The good news is that you don’t actually have to generate a thumbnail, YouTube actually has several waiting for you:

YouTubeHere’s the video – notice the video id?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgGVitTU9F8

Here are the images in a couple sizes and frames, note the video id is embedded in the URL:

  • http://img.youtube.com/vi/SgGVitTU9F8/0.jpg
  • http://img.youtube.com/vi/SgGVitTU9F8/1.jpg
  • http://img.youtube.com/vi/SgGVitTU9F8/2.jpg

An easy way to embed the thumbnails in your sidebar would be to enter the image URL manually as a custom field, then customize your theme to display the custom field if it exists.

UPDATE: We have developed a great YouTube thumbnail and player plugin for WordPress. This plugin allows you to just point to your YouTube profile or a playlist and the code retrieves the preview image for you! Be sure to download it and let us know what you think!

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