YouTube Video Thumbnail Previews Rolling Out on Desktop: How to Use Them

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YouTube Video Thumbnail Previews Rolling Out on Desktop: How to Use Them
  • Users have to hover their cursor over a video thumbnail
  • The video preview is only 3 seconds long, and auto-generated
  • It only works on Chrome and Opera browsers for now

YouTube is rolling out video thumbnail previews to its desktop site. As the name suggests, the feature will show users previews of videos when they hover their cursor over the thumbnail. The previews are 3 seconds long, and are automatically selected from the first half of the video - with creators having no hand in choosing which clip is shown to users.

The announcement for the global rollout of YouTube video thumbnail previews was made on the video-sharing site's Twitter handle on Friday. There are obviously several benefits to the feature - viewers can get a glimpse of the video to decide if they want to watch it. Doing so would save time as well as the data spent watching something that they weren't looking for.

The Google-owned service notes that the new YouTube video thumbnail feature is now rolling out to everyone, and clarifies that it only works on Chromium-based browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox. So if you're using Safari, Edge, or Firefox, you're out of luck. Do you see the new video thumbnail preview feature? Let us know in the comments section, and do also share your views on the feature's merits and demerits.

The video-sharing service says it has been testing the feature for the past few months, so several of our readers may have seen YouTube's video thumbnail previews before this global rollout. As we mentioned, only a 3-second preview is visible, and the clip shown is automatically generated from the first half of the video. "For now", creators will not be able to pick or change the preview shown to users.

This last bit will help ensure that users are not mislead by creators who often put thumbnails that mispresent the content of the video. When asked on Twitter why a longer preview (for example, 7 seconds) was not used instead, YouTube said "We wanted to share a short preview without spoiling too much of the video."

Notably, YouTube had rolled out a video preview feature for similar data saving reasons in its app built specifically for India - YouTube Go - letting users decide if they want to watch a video before actually opening it and streaming it


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