Why Is My YouTube Shorts Thumbnail Not Showing?

If you’ve been wondering why your YouTube Shorts thumbnail isn’t working as well for you as you would expect, you’re not alone. 

I encountered this problem while making short videos for my class project YouTube channel at university and it slowed down my productivity. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the possible reasons behind this problem and explore solutions to help you get your YouTube Shorts thumbnails back on track.  

We will also discuss how you can add a thumbnail to your YouTube Shorts and how you can change the YouTube Shorts thumbnail on your phone.

YouTube Shorts thumbnails can fail to show for numerous reasons such as; differences in the thumbnail size, the video being too short, the video format is not supported, poor internet or network connectivity problems, and technical issues. 

What is the importance of YouTube Shorts thumbnails?

YouTube Shorts thumbnails play a very important role in the representation of your video. 

They attract viewers to click on your videos so that they can keep watching. If your YouTube Shorts thumbnails are captivating, you are most likely to have more views and engagement on your YouTube Shorts. 

YouTube thumbnail selection algorithm

Knowing how the YouTube thumbnail selection algorithm works helps you understand how important YouTube short thumbnails are in increasing your content viewership and reach.  

If your video has a higher watch time, YouTube will give it a better ranking, but this starts from the YouTube short’s thumbnail. 

The better your YouTube Shorts thumbnail is, the more people will click on the YouTube short video hence more watch time. 

What does it mean when the YouTube Shorts thumbnail is not showing

Imagine if you have always dreamt of becoming a great YouTuber in the world and after putting in all those hours of capturing great footage and editing, things fail to work out. 

You try to carefully consider what might have been in your way, only to discover it was all about your thumbnail not showing. 

Here are some reasons why this happens;

1. Difference in the thumbnail size

YouTube was designed in such a way that the video thumbnails must have a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, shorts have a 9:16 aspect ratio, and 9:16 thumbnails are not yet supported on YouTube. 

This is one of the possible causes of your YouTube Short thumbnail not showing.

2. The video is too short

YouTube thumbnails have to meet specific video length requirements and if your YouTube Short video is too short, YouTube may not be able to create a suitable thumbnail for it. 

If your video is less than 30 seconds, its thumbnail might fail to show because shorts are designed to use automatically generated thumbnails based on the video content. 

It is from video frames that thumbnails are generated and if there is not enough content to select a suitable frame, no thumbnail may be generated. 

3. The video format is not supported

YouTube supports certain video formats so if your YouTube Shorts thumbnail is not showing, it might be because the video is not in the correct format or the video codec is not supported by YouTube. 

There are over 16 file formats that are supported by YouTube MOV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, etc. So if your video lies outside these file formats, you may experience problems like YouTube shorts thumbnails not showing up. Some of the file formats not supported by YouTube include; WAV and PCM.

4. Poor Internet or network connectivity problems 

Very slow Internet can make YouTube Shorts thumbnails fail to show. Poor internet makes video players take longer to load and display the YouTube shorts thumbnail.

Additionally, if there are network connectivity problems, there can be buffering issues while playing YouTube shorts. 

The best way to understand this is that when video playback is interrupted due to buffering, there will be an effect on the loading of other elements which can include the YouTube shorts thumbnail.

5. Browser cache

Sometimes the browser cache could be the main reason for your YouTube shorts thumbnail not showing. 

Usually, if your browser has recently cached the page or video that you are trying to view, there can be an attempt to load the thumbnail from its cache.

If the cached thumbnail data has issues like being incomplete or being corrupted, it can result in the thumbnail not showing properly.

There are also instances when the browser cache can be corrupted hence leading to problems with loading various page elements, which can include YouTube shorts thumbnails. 

On the other hand, if the thumbnail has been updated on YouTube but your browser still relies on the outdated cached version, this might cause your YouTube short’s thumbnail not to show. 

6. Technical issues

Sometimes, the problem is on the end of YouTube. For example;

  • YouTube can have technical glitches or bugs in its platform which can often disturb the proper display of thumbnails. 
  • There can also be scenarios where YouTube’s servers experience problems causing delays or failures in serving thumbnails. 
  • If the servers are too loaded or having technical issues, this can impact various elements on YouTube including YouTube shorts’ thumbnails hence not being able to see them. 
  • If YouTube decides to do some server maintenance or updates, there are certain features including thumbnail generation and display that can be temporarily affected. 

How to fix the ‘YouTube shorts thumbnail not showing’ problem

After learning about all the reasons why YouTube shorts can fail to show, you obviously would want to know how to solve this problem. 

Since knowledge is power, I decided to share with you different ways you can solve the issue of YouTube Shorts thumbnail not showing:

1. Clear cache and cookies

When you clear cache and cookies, you essentially remove stored data that might have been causing issues like making your YouTube Shorts thumbnail not show. 

This helps to speed up the performance of your YouTube app hence you can be able to see the YouTube shorts thumbnail. 

You can clear the cache on your YouTube app by following the steps below;

  1. Open the settings  of your device and find Apps > App info
Photo Settings
Photo Settings
Photo Settings
  1. Search or scroll down to the YouTube application, open it, and click and clear the cache.
Photo Settings
Photo Settings

When you do that, you will successfully be able to clear the cache of YouTube from your device.

2. Wait for YouTube to update the thumbnail  

Many times we think that the problem can be on our end yet sometimes it can be on YouTube’s end. Thumbnails on YouTube are created and served from the YouTube servers.

It is important to note that there can be delays or problems with the thumbnail generation on YouTube. 

When that happens, YouTube’s servers can eventually update and refresh the thumbnail, hence solving the problem without any action required from you the user. 

3. Check your internet connection

Usually, if you try to make sure that your network connectivity or internet connection is working well by maybe making sure data bundles are not expired, you should be able to solve the problem of YouTube shorts not showing. 

You can do this by ensuring that you have a stable Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.

If you are using Wi-Fi, it is important to check for any network issues or interference that might be messing up your internet speed. 

You might also want to think of switching to different networks or using a wired connection for more stability.

A stable Internet connection will make sure that there is smooth video playback hence facilitating the loading and display of YouTube shorts thumbnails. 

4. Update your YouTube app

Usually, all the bugs or issues causing YouTube Shorts thumbnail display problems in the old version can be resolved after updating the YouTube app.

Updating YouTube also touches on the issue of compatibility.  YouTube regularly makes updates to its app such that it can be compatible with the most recent changes. 

Updating your YouTube app therefore makes it more likely to work smoothly with these changes. 

5. Restart your device 

When you restart your device, it is more like refreshing everything to make it come back to life. This helps to solve some of the problems on your device and it might also aid in solving the problem of YouTube shorts thumbnail not showing. 

6. Change the thumbnail manually

When you change your YouTube shorts thumbnail, you are in control of what image represents your video and you can decide which image to use that will most likely attract viewers.

Ensure that your YouTube shorts thumbnail complies with YouTube’s thumbnail policies hence avoiding any potential issues that can come up.

To manually change the thumbnail of your YouTube shorts:

  • Go to YouTube Studio, click on “Content
YouTube Studio
YouTube Studio
  • Click on the three dots of the video you want to edit, and click on Edit video 
  • Click on Change thumbnail and upload your thumbnail. 
Change YouTube video thumbnail
Change YouTube video thumbnail
Change YouTube video thumbnail

7. Check the image size

The appropriate size for the YouTube shorts thumbnails is said to be 1280*720 pixels. YouTube shorts are vertical short-form content. 

However, the recommended size for a custom YouTube shorts thumbnail image has to match the 1920*1080 pixels requirements.  

It is therefore advisable to confirm the size and format of the image before uploading it as a YouTube shorts thumbnail.

8. Contact the support team or report the issue to YouTube

The last solution when all has failed is usually to get assistance from the YouTube support team. 

All you need to do is contact them and they will guide you on how best to solve the problem of YouTube Shorts thumbnail not showing. 

You contact YouTube’s support team by visiting its Community Help Forum or its help center.

If they do not answer right away, you have to be patient as they will get back to you.

Thumbnail issues on specific browsers

Having a good understanding of thumbnail issues on specific browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge is important because there are times when you can find yourself accessing YouTube through a browser and not an app.

These issues can be caused by various factors, including browser compatibility, CSS styles, and image formats. 

To resolve some of these issues, you can try these options; 

  • Check online resources and forums for specific issues related to the browsers you are targeting, 
  • Ensure that your thumbnail images are in a widely supported format such as JPEG or PNG a
  • Ensure that browsers, as well as any plugins or extensions, are up to date. 


How do I add a thumbnail to YouTube Shorts?

All you have to do is;

(i.) Open the YouTube Studio app and from the bottom menu, tap Content

YouTube Studio 1
YouTube Studio 2 1

(iii.) Select the video you want to edit and tap Edit

YouTube Studio 3 1
YouTube Studio 4 1

(v.) Select an auto-generated thumbnail or tap the customer thumbnail to create a custom video thumbnail from an image on your device

(vi.) Confirm your thumbnail selection and tap SELECT, then  SAVE

Edit YT Thumbnail
Edit YT Thumbnail

How long does it take for YouTube Shorts thumbnails to appear?

It does not take long for YouTube Shorts thumbnails to appear. Typically, you should be able to see it a few seconds after you upload it, provided your internet connection is stable and working well.


I hope you have gained good knowledge about what causes YouTube shorts not to show and what you can do to resolve these issues. 

With a little patience and compliance with guidelines, you can surely make your thumbnails work as they should.

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Timothy is a health and wellness professional and enjoys reviewing books on his blog Bookmeal1. Timothy writes on GoTechUG about social media and shares his experience with tech. In his free time, he loves playing piano, swimming or travelling.

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