How to Add a Preview Image to WordPress Videos

wordpress video thumbnail

WordPress makes adding videos easy. However, many WordPress users don’t realize that they can make their videos more attractive.

In particular, it often helps to add a preview image to your videos. An eye-catching preview image can really draw attention to your video. If you allow the preview image be chosen automatically, you can often end up with a snapshot taken at a bad moment in the video.

Please note, this will only work with videos that you have directly uploaded and stored in WordPress. This won’t work with WordPress YouTube, WordPress Vimeo, or WordPress Wistia videos.

This tutorial will show you how to add a custom preview image to your WordPress videos.

The WordPress Poster Image

The name that WordPress uses for video preview images is the “Poster Image”. This name is slightly confusing and may be why a lot of people don’t know this feature exists.

When you first add your video, you’re not given an option to add the poster image. By default, WordPress simply displays a still image from the beginning of your video.

To add your own image, go to edit your Post or Page:

  1. Click on the video.
  2. Click the edit icon.
video in wordpress post

  • Click on “Select Poster Image” in the left column.
select poster image
  • Upload a new image, or select it from the Media Library.
select poster image wordpress
  • Click the “Select Poster Image” button in the bottom right corner.
  • Click “Update”.
  • You’ll now be presented with a preview of the video showing the new Poster Image:
wordpress video with poster image
  • Finally, preview your Post or Page to check the final result. Congrats! You’ve just created your first WordPress Poster Image.
wordpress video with poster image post

Pro Tip: Optimize Your Image

You can use the following two tutorials to optimize your image to your video’s height and width:

Also, if you want to force your WordPress authors to use a featured image on their posts, try the PublishPress Content Checklist.


  • Nick Savov

    Nick is the Director of Support at OSTraining and you can find him in almost every area of the site, from answering support requests and account questions to creating tutorials and software.

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8 years ago

Does this work for embedded YouTube videos? I don’t see the Poster Image option when I click Edit on one.

8 years ago
Reply to  Chad Warner

Hey Chad. I don’t believe so – only self-hosted videos.

4 years ago
Reply to  Chad Warner

I have the same issue! How to change cover image in case of an embedded YouTube video? Thank you!

6 years ago

Hi Dear, actually am using WordPress 4.9.1 to upload home page video from YouTube for our website, but after I uploaded the video and access the website from the laptop I noticed that the poster image that it supposed to be displayed only when access via Phone it’s appearing in the home page for 3 seconds and this causes the first 3 seconds of the uploaded video not to be seen then can watch the video.
Please I need your help and suggestion to solve this issue. Thank you so much

Natalie Smithson
Natalie Smithson
6 years ago

This is so hidden! Thank you : )

Daniel Gross
Daniel Gross
5 years ago

Thanks Nick! This made a big difference for my school’s website!

Michelle Ross
Michelle Ross
4 years ago

Thank you Nick! Very helpful! How do I make the poster image clickable? A user can play the video by clicking on the video controls at the bottom of the block, but I want to make the [i]poster image itself[/i] clickable. Any tips greatly appreciated.

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