How to get a YouTube video Image or Thumbnail

In this post you will learn how to get you tube video images and thumbnails.

There are various method to get Images or Thumbnails like using url manually or getting it from API. Below you will see both methods of getting this information.

Method 1.

Getting images manually using URL.

Each YouTube video has 4 generated images. They are predictably formatted as follows:

The first one in the list is a full size image and others are thumbnail images. The default thumbnail image (ie. one of 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg) is:

For the high quality version of the thumbnail use a url similar to this:

There is also a medium quality version of the thumbnail, using a url similar to the HQ:

For the standard definition version of the thumbnail, use a url similar to this:

For the maximum resolution version of the thumbnail use a url similar to this:

All of the above urls are available over http too.

Additionally, the slightly shorter hostname works in place of in the example urls above.

Method 2.

You can use YouTube Data API to retrieve video thumbnails, caption, description, rating, statistics and more. API version 3 requires a key*. Obtain the key and create a videos: list request:

Example PHP Code


NOTE: Not only that you need a key, you might be asked for billing information depending on the number of API requests you plan to make. However, few million requests per day are free.

You can also user CURL method to get this output.