YouTube thumbnails now have moving previews! Very fancy, but what does it mean?

YouTube has been testing moving thumbnail previews since February, so you might have seen them appear before. But since a couple of weeks they’ve become a permanent feature.

What does it do?

The previews show a three second clip taken from your video so that viewers can get a better impression of the content they’re about to click on. A YouTube algorithm chooses the best three seconds from the first half of your video. So it’s not sure what will show up in your video previews. This means your content has to be appealing throughout.


The previews will appear on your Home page, Search results page, Watch page, Subscriptions tab, and Trending tab.

Keep making awesome thumbnails

The moving previews don’t replace the customizable thumbnails you’re used to making. Custom thumbs will still be shown when the video is not hovered over or on mobile devices where the preview feature is not available. So it’s still worthwhile to make snazzy thumbnails.


YouTube uses multiple criteria to determine who is eligible for the moving previews, like video length (only videos longer than 30 seconds), content type and video topic. Previews have been activated across YouTube, so if yours aren’t appearing you are probably not eligible.