How I Get YouTube Thumbnails Without API Keys or Libraries (e.g., Python)

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You can get the YouTube thumbnail if you don’t want to create and use an API key from Google with this simple trick:

YouTube uses a consistent URL pattern for their video thumbnails, which is:<video_id>/maxresdefault.jpg

The <video_id> is the part after "watch?v=" in the YouTube video link.

For example, consider the video at with the video identifier A5I55aOgX2o.

Here’s a simple Python function that will build this URL for you:

def get_thumbnail_url(video_id):
    return f"{video_id}/maxresdefault.jpg"

video_id = "VIDEO_ID"  # Replace with your YouTube video ID

thumbnail_url = get_thumbnail_url(video_id)

This will print out the URL of the thumbnail image. However, please note that this method might not always provide the highest-resolution thumbnail, primarily if the uploaded video doesn’t support high resolution.

Here’s the thumbnail in the above video example: with the video identifier A5I55aOgX2o.

If you want to download the image, you can use the urllib and shutil libraries:

import shutil
import urllib.request

def download_thumbnail(video_id):
    thumbnail_url = get_thumbnail_url(video_id)
    with urllib.request.urlopen(thumbnail_url) as response, open('thumbnail.jpg', 'wb') as out_file:
        shutil.copyfileobj(response, out_file)


This will save the thumbnail image as 'thumbnail.jpg' in the current directory.