YouTube’s Test & Compare Feature: Explained

Article last updated on:
March 12, 2024

You’ve probably ended up on this page becasuse:

  • Are a content creator on YouTube
  • Heard of this Test & Compare feature
  • But you don’t know 100% what it is and what it does

So, we’re here to explain.

What is “Test and Compare” on YouTube?

YouTube’s Test & Compare feature allows creators to upload and test multiple thumbnails for their videos. This helps pick the one that generates the most engagement, as measured by watch time.

Test and compare is the same as A/B Testing.

YouTube's official video in 2023, announcing the release of A/B Testing

Essentially, here’s what it is:

  • A tool to test different video thumbnails and see which one performs better.
  • You can upload up to 3 thumbnails and YouTube will show them to different audiences.
  • The thumbnail that gets the most watch time is considered the winner.

Outside of YouTube, there are 3rd party apps like Thumbnail Test which do exactly the same thing and more. More on this later.

Benefits: Test and Compare

Illustration of thumbnail testing on YouTube
Illustration of how Test & Compare works
  1. Creates data-driven decisions on thumbnails, which are crucial for grabbing viewers’ attention.
  2. Free to use for all creators.
  3. Particularly useful for small channels trying to stand out.

By choosing the thumbnail that grabs the most attention and gets viewers clicking, you can see a significant boost in the number of people who watch your video.

How to access Test & Compare

Currently, only YouTube’s beta testers have access Test & Compare.

If you’re not a beta tester, you can always use a third-party tool like Thumbnail Test.

A. Beta Access

  1. Open YouTube Studio
  2. Upload a video
  3. Go to the Thumbnail section
  4. You should see a Test & Compare button
  5. Click it
YouTube Beta Tester's Comment on Reddit

But then again: This feature isn’t available to everyone.

So, let’s go to the option that works for all the creators.

B. External App

  1. Go to Thumbnail Test
  2. Sign up → Connect your YouTube channel
  3. Select a video
  4. Upload at laest two thumbnails to Test & Compare
  5. Finish the test → Find the best thumbnail

It’s just that simple!

Oh, and did we mention? Thumbnail Test works for titles too!


Overall, Test & Compare is a valuable tool for YouTube creators to optimize their video thumbnails and improve viewer engagement.

But, at least for now, Thumbnail Test is your best bet.

Thank you for reading this,

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.