Back in February, reports surfaced of YouTube‘s plan to enable thumbnails that move like GIFs when users scroll over them. Now, that feature has been enabled for all of the video site’s desktop users. If you roll your cursor over a thumbnail in your web browser, that picture should cut to a three-second loop that previews the video you’re about to click on.
Some Twitter users appear to have noticed the moving thumbnails as far back as July 4, but YouTube officially announced them in a tweet it shared on July 13. For users who may not be able to test drive the feature themselves, YouTube also shared a gif that shows its latest update in action.
Hovering over a video thumbnail on desktop now shows you a 3-second preview. Try it out! pic.twitter.com/jqIc1UxloZ
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) July 13, 2017
YouTube is not the only video site to enable GIF-like video previews. Last month, Giphy and Vimeo announced a partnership that allowed filmmakers to cut clips out of their videos and use them as shareable loops.
The obvious next step for YouTube would be to let users create their own short clips to attach to their thumbnails, but the video site may not go that route. As noted by Gadgets360, the previews will “for now” be restricted to the three-second snippets that YouTube automatically selects for each video. Users will thus be prevented from sharing overly salacious previews, and given the effectiveness of sexy thumbnails, that’s probably a good thing.
Through my very scientific analysis (I hovered over about a dozen thumbnails to see how they reacted), some videos are equipped with moving previews while others or not. You’re welcome to see if you have more success by testing out YouTube’s new feature for yourself.