Wondering what the ideal YouTube banner size is? The YouTube banner is a bit like a book cover for your channel page, so it’s important for setting the right first impression. In this post, I’ll go over the best YouTube channel art size and add some suggestions for how to make a great channel banner.
YouTube Banner Size: Quick Version
Here’s the quick version for the image dimensions to use for YouTube banner size in 2021.
- Recommended YouTube Banner Size: 2560 x 1440 pixels. These are the banner dimensions that YouTube recommends, and it’s in an aspect ratio of 16:9. It’s important to know that not all of the image will be displayed on all viewing platforms. You can find an explanation for why below.
- Minimum Dimensions: 2048 x 1152 pixels, with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
- YouTube Banner Safe Area Dimensions: 1235 x 338 pixels, centered. Not all of the image area is displayed on all viewing platforms. This safe area is the part that will show on all devices, so you should place any important information here, such as logos or titles. Anything outside of this area may get cropped on some devices and viewing platforms.
- Maximum File Size: 6MB file size. This is quite a generous size limit, and if you’re uploading JPGs or PNGs, it’s easy to stay below that threshold.
YouTube Banner Size Recommendations: Detailed Version
YouTube has three main areas where you can add photos to your YouTube channel page. The first is your profile image, which is used across Google properties. The second is where you can assign specific images as your YouTube video thumbnails.
The third part of YouTube where you can add photos—and the one I’m focusing on here—is what YouTube calls “Channel Art.” But it’s more commonly known as the banner or banner art. This is basically the same thing as other social media services like Facebook and Twitter call the cover photo or the header image. On a regular website, it could be called the hero image.
Your choice of YouTube banner can be important for conveying the kind of first impression you want to share. Whether that’s branding, or humor, or a particular aesthetic, it’s the most visual element that viewers see when they visit your channel page.
But where things get tricky is that you can upload a single image as your banner image, but it’s not going to display the same way for everyone. So you’ll need to create an image that’s flexible enough to work well on different types of displays, not just on desktop computers. That includes anything from mobile phones to tablets to large-screen TV apps.
And how the channel art (or banner) displays is going to change according to the device. On a desktop web browser and on a mobile device, it shows as a narrow horizontal panorama with an aspect ratio of 6.2:1. If you’re using a TV, it’s a full-screen background image in an aspect ratio of 16:9. But you can only specify one image to be used, so you need to make sure it’s one that works in both the horizontal strip (or panorama) format as well a more conventional full-screen aspect ratio.
YouTube Banner Art Recommendations: Ideal, Minimum & Maximum Dimensions
Before we get to how to change and customize the channel art for your YouTube channel, you’ll need to make sure you’re using an image that meets the basic requirements for the YouTube banner dimensions.
The Ideal YouTube Banner Size
The ideal size to use for your YouTube banner image is 2560 pixels wide by 1440 pixels tall.
That’s the ideal to aim for, but there are also some other limits to be aware of so that it will display reliably on various viewing devices, from desktops to mobile phones to TV apps.
YouTube Banner Dimensions: Minimum Size
In practice, you might always have an image with those precise dimensions. You can still get good results from other sizes, but there are some basic requirements you have to work with.
The first is the minimum image size. While YouTube recommends that you use an image at least 2048 pixels wide by 1152 pixels tall for best results, in reality, you can get away with one-half that size if you really need to. (But a larger image will display sharper.) But if you try to upload one smaller than 1024 x 576, you’ll get an error message like this:
If you try to use an image that’s already uploaded to the Your Photos tab, you’ll notice that any that are too small are grayed out, and you can’t select them.
YouTube Banner Dimensions: Maximum Size
The maximum size isn’t limited by pixel dimensions, but it is limited by file size to 6 megabytes. In practice, that’s pretty generous and will easily accommodate even quite high-resolution JPG images.
But plenty of cameras and even smartphones create JPGs that are much larger than that. In those cases, you’ll have to reduce the size to below 6MB before uploading. You can do that by reducing the resolution or increasing the compression. Most of the time, you’re better off reducing the resolution (while still aiming for the ideal size, of course).
There are two main ways to reduce the size of an image. The simplest is to reduce the pixel dimensions. So you can reduce the image to 2560 pixels wide by 1440 pixels high.
Another alternative is to reduce the output file size, which has the effect of increasing compression. Not all resizing apps provide this option, but if the app you’re using has it built-in, it’s an effective way to do it. Just target under 6MB. That’s easier to do on desktop image editing software like Lightroom, XnConvert, or IrfanView. Of course, more advanced image editing apps can also do this in their sleep–apps like Photoshop, GIMP, and Affinity Photo, but those are all heavy-hitting editing apps that are overkill for this easy job (that said, if you already have them on hand, by all means, go ahead and use them).
There are other good options if you’re using a mobile device or just don’t want to install an app on your computer. For a quick way to resize an individual image, you can use a free online service like this one. If it’s something you want to do with more images or more often, any number of image editing apps can do it. A good option that usually use when making web graphics is Canva, which either works entirely online through a web browser or through a mobile or desktop app.
How to Add a YouTube Channel Banner
If you’re just starting up your YouTube channel, the channel art space is blank by default. So you’ll need to add some to get things started. If you already have an existing banner, the method for changing the image is essentially the same.
This is something you can do either in a web browser or the YouTube mobile app. Since there are some differences, albeit minor, between them, I’ll walk through each separately.
Changing YouTube Banner Using a Web Browser
When you go to your channel page, click on the profile image at the top right and then choose
You’ll then get two buttons: Customize Channel and Manage Videos.
(Note: This is slightly different if you’re replacing existing channel art—click on the small camera icon at the top right of the image instead–it appears when you roll the cursor over the image.)
Customize Channel. This will open YouTube Studio’s Channel Customization screen. From the tabs at the top, choose
Branding. This brings up the screen where you can change your profile picture, apply a video watermark, and change your banner image.
Here, you can choose to change or remove the existing banner image.
You can then select the image to upload. You can use JPG, PNG, or WebP images.
The next screen will load your image in a popup viewport that has an overlay that shows the safe area (designated as “viewable on all devices”). If you’ve uploaded an image that has an aspect ratio of anything other than 16:9, you’ll be able to drag that viewport to focus on a different area of the image. You can also use the small squares at the corners to resize the viewport.
In this example, I’ve dragged the viewport down so that the kayakers are within the safe area.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be back at the Channel Customization panel. Tap the blue
Publish button at the top right corner of the screen.
Adjusting the Crop of the YouTube Banner
By default, the viewport is centered on the screen. So the panoramic crops will show the full width of the image through a narrow part of the middle. You can, however, adjust the crop to move it to a different part of the image. Just hit the Adjust the Crop button at the bottom left.
The crop screen works a bit unusually in that it includes two areas. The clearest section, in the middle, is the horizontal panorama area that will be used on desktop and mobile devices. The larger area with the grab handles is the area used on YouTube-enabled TVs.
You can only adjust the larger crop—the narrow area will move along proportionally with it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to shift the panorama section relative to the larger TV crop—it’s always in the middle. So if you want to use something like a logo or text, you’ll want to make sure it’s safely within that inner area. That area measures 1235 x 338 pixels (it used to be slightly larger).
How much wiggle room you have vertically will be based on the aspect ratio of the image you uploaded. If you uploaded a 16:9 image, you wouldn’t have much room to move at full width. But what you can do is reduce the width as well to focus on a smaller part of the image.
To move the crop, you just click and drag. If you want to resize it, use the white square handles on the corners.
Once you’ve selected the focus area, click on the Devices Preview button at the bottom left to see how the changes will look.
You can also use the Auto Enhance button at the bottom right to help improve the image. How much effect it has—if any—depends on the individual image.
Once you’re happy with the selection, hit the Select button. You’ll then go back to your regular Channel view, and your new YouTube banner will be displayed at the top.
How to Change an Existing YouTube Banner
If you decide you want to change existing channel art, log into your YouTube and go to your channel’s home page. Then move the mouse over the cover art. A small edit button will appear over the top right corner of the channel art. Once you click on that, you’ll get a popup menu that includes Change Channel Art.
How to Add a YouTube Banner in the YouTube Mobile App
You can also add and change the banner image using the mobile app. It’s fundamentally the same process, although it looks different enough that I’ll include a quick walk-thru of it here.
You want to go to Home in both the top menu and the bottom one. Then click on the small gear icon.
In the Channel Settings screen, click on the camera icon at the right. (The one in the middle is to change your profile picture.)
You’ll then get the option to choose from the photos that are on your phone or tablet.
You’ll then automatically be shot the crop preview screen where you can see which part of the image will be the basis for the viewport for the desktop browser and mobile views. You don’t get a separate preview of the full-screen TV view this time.
Once you’re happy with how it looks, tap on Use Photo.
How to Add Logos & Text to a YouTube Channel Banner
You can add logos and text to your YouTube channel banner before you upload it, but you’re going to have a very narrow band to work with. And because of the way in which YouTube’s crop tool works, precisely where on the original image it should be placed will depend on the aspect ratio of the original image. So, unfortunately, in many cases, it’s a matter of trial and error.
But if you happen to be using an original image that is 2560 x 1440 pixels, there’s a safe-zone rectangle precisely in the center that’s 1235 x 338 pixels.1
It will display like this:
In practice, you end up with something like this:
You can, of course, superimpose the logo or other text over the top of a background image. I’ve just used a plain white background here to make it clearer for illustration purposes.
Examples of Successful YouTube Banner Design
Here are some examples from successful YouTube channels where their YouTube banner image design works well to complement and enhance their channel.
GoPro YouTube Channel Art
GoPro uses a combination of a screen grab from action filmed with a GoPro camera as the background image and some foreground text. But you’ll notice the foreground text isn’t even the company name or logo–it’s actually the latest model of their camera, which they’re using here as a nice way to feature their current flagship product and communicate that there’s a new model out.
Restoration Hardware YouTube Channel Art
The Restoration Hardware Channel goes for a refined, simple approach that’s a great fit for their overall aesthetic. It’s a good example where fancy and busy isn’t necessary.
Lonely Planet YouTube Channel Art
Lonely Planet is all about packing up and going. And they’ve built up an incredible archive of travel photos over the years. In this case, they’re letting the exotic location do the talking with just a simple logo superimposed over the top.
Young House Love YouTube Banner Art
This is a good example where simple just works. The banner image is really working as a title, but the choice of colors and font and overall look melds perfectly with their brand and the video thumbnails they use.
Ana White YouTube Channel Art
This is deceptively simple. It doesn’t tell you anything about the brand, and if you were unfamiliar with Ana White, this wouldn’t shed any light. But it does convey some important information in a very simple way. By including a simple call-to-action in the banner itself, it sneaks in there even without reading any of the other page text.
Jennifer Maker YouTube Channel Art
This is a good illustration of why a corporate branding department isn’t required to create a great banner image. It’s busy and cluttered and homey, but that’s a perfect fit for what the channel focuses on.
Things Worth Knowing
What Image Formats Can You Upload for YouTube Banner Art?
I have been able to successfully upload files in these image formats:
- JPG. By far the most common image format for photos and web graphics.
- PNG. They are commonly used for graphics, logos, and illustrations.
- WebP. This one surprised me a little, but it makes sense. WebP is a newer type of image format that’s specifically designed for web use. The most common place that you’ll come across it is if you download an image from a website that has been optimized to use WebP. Normally, WebP isn’t widely compatible for this type of thing, but in this case, WebP was developed by Google, so they must have decided to implement compatibility.
- TIF. Another image format that has been around a long time. Often used for high-resolution master copies of photos. The files tend to be quite large. Also commonly used by graphic designers, so you might have been sent one of these from your graphic designer team.
If you try to upload an image format that it won’t accept, the file will be grayed out, and you won’t be able to select it. For instance, you can’t upload PSD, HEIC, or RAW files–it won’t let you.
How to Add Custom Links On Top of the Banner
You can overlay clickable links at the bottom right corner of the banner image. But you do this in a separate section of the settings. They’re under the
Basic Info table of the Channel Customization screen.
I’ve put together a guide on how to add YouTube banner links and social media icons.
What is a YouTube banner?
A YouTube banner refers to the main image at the top of the page that displays on your channel page. It is sometimes called channel art.
What is the best image size to use for YouTube Banners?
The ideal YouTube banner size is 2560 x 1440 pixels.
What is the best image aspect ratio to use for YouTube Banners?
YouTube banner images should be in the aspect ratio of 16:9. That’s wider than it is tall and in the horizontal or landscape orientation (i.e., not vertical).
What are the minimum image dimensions for a YouTube Banner image?
The minimum pixel dimensions for a YouTube banner are 2048 x 1152 pixels.
What is the YouTube Banner safe area?
The safe area in a YouTube Banner is a section in the middle that will remain visible on all devices. It is centered on the main image and measures 1235 x 338 pixels.
What is the maximum file size you can upload for YouTube banner images?
For YouTube banners, the image must be under 6 megabytes.
Here are those YouTube banner size recommendations again:
- Recommended YouTube Banner Size: 2560 x 1440 pixels
- Minimum Dimensions: 2048 x 1152 pixels
- Safe Area Dimensions: 1235 x 338 pixels, centered
- Maximum File Size: 6MB file size
Even the best YouTube banner art isn’t going to make for a successful youtube channel by itself, of course. You’re also going to need compelling, high-quality videos, regular content, and, ideally, integration with other sources of traffic. But carefully choosing aspects like banner art and thumbnail images can help just that little bit.