Facebook Profile and Cover and Thumbnail Images

Unless you’ve already made the switch, the layout of your Facebook account is about to change to the Timeline look. Your Wall/Profile is becoming your Timeline. After the change, some of your first thoughts may be:

  • Ack! What happened to my Profile Picture?
    …at least my Thumbnail still seems okay, but my Profile Picture is all wrong!
  • Where are my five photos, and what’s that big blank space at the top?

Welcome to your new Profile Picture area and your brand new Cover Photo area.

Please note:
Even though Facebook calls one a ‘picture’ and the other a ‘photo’…they are each an image that can be a photo, or a graphic, or a graphic with photos in it.


180px x 180px

Facebook displays this image as a square of 125 pixels by 125 pixels, but they won’t let you upload a Profile Picture with a width smaller than 180 pixels.

Knowing that they are going to shrink your Profile Picture down to a square, choose an image that is the smallest square possible to begin with–at 180px by 180px. Then, you can size it down to 125px by 125px–or go ahead and upload it as your Profile Picture–in order to see if you still like how it looks when it’s smaller.

Your Profile image will overlap some of the bottom-left area of your Cover image, and your Thumbnail image still comes from your Profile image. So, try to pick something for your Profile that does not clash with your Cover, yet still gives you a Thumbnail that you like. (Directions below on how to set your Thumbnail the way you want it.)

For those of you that have a rectangular logo or another rectangular image that you wanted to use for your Profile:
I’m sorry to report that it might not work here. To check, size the longest side (width or length) down to 125px…in order to see if you can still recognize it and still like it. If it just doesn’t work out at such a small size, we suggest using something else–perhaps a section or symbol from your logo–as your Profile/Thumbnail image. Then, you could incorporate your full logo (or other rectangular image) into your Cover Photo.

851px x 315px

This (somewhat odd) size of 851px by 315px for the width and height of the Cover Photo comes straight from Facebook’s examples:

On that Profile Banners webpage (now being replaced by Covers), you can also see how many of those images are pixelated. This is because images can become blurry when they are stretched/enlarged to fill a space. You are always better off to use an image that matches or exceeds the requirements of where it is to be used–and ‘matches’ will give you the smallest file sizes for your images. Often, a photo or graphic can still look decent when it is downsized/shrunk, but not when it is enlarged.

When you upload an image for your Cover that is bigger or smaller than 851px in width, Facebook will scale the image down or up to the width of 851px. Then, if the resulting height is taller than 315px, you will have the next step of dragging the image up and down to then select which 315px of the image will be displayed as your cover.

As mentioned above under “Profile Picture”, note that some of the bottom-left area of your Cover will be hidden by your Profile image. And remember, even though Facebook calls this image a ‘photo’, it can be a photo or a graphic or a graphic with photos in it. You might also want to include your full logo in your Cover image, especially when it doesn’t fit well into the little square Profile space.

If your Facebook account is a ‘Page’, there are also content restrictions for your Cover image.

‘Pages’ are for businesses, celebrities, products and such–’People’ can ‘Like’ ‘Pages’. ‘People’ are for individuals–’People’ can ‘Friend’ ‘People’. ‘Pages’ cannot ‘Like’ other ‘Pages’, but they can use ‘Add to my Page’s Favorites’ in order to have other ‘Pages’ show up in their list of ‘Likes’. Aspirin sold separately.

From the Facebook Pages Terms, Section III. B. “Cover”

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.



Your Thumbnail image comes from your Profile image. You can choose to either shrink down your entire Profile image to be your Thumbnail, or select an area of your Profile image. *These steps are for after you have switched over to the Timeline layout.

  1. After logging in to your Facebook account, hover over your Profile Picture–which is to the left of your name.
  2. Click on the little “Edit Profile Picture” box that shows up, and then click on “Edit Thumbnail…” from the drop-down menu that appears. A small window has now appeared on top of your Admin Panel area that says “Edit Thumbnail”.
  3. First check the box next to “Scale to fit”, if it is not already selected. This shows you how your entire Profile image looks when it is shrunk down to the Thumbnail size. Do you like it?
  4. Second, uncheck the box next to “Scale to fit”. You can see that your image is now a little bigger, and you can click-and-hold on the image to drag it all around. Do you find any areas to use that you like better…better than your full Profile image?
  5. Choose whichever option you like best–or hate the least–and click the “Save” button.
  6. The Edit Thumbnail box has now disappeared, and your new Thumbnail appears next to your entries.

by Andie Piteo for Achtung Graphics
Last updated: 2013-08-13