Extracting Thumbnails from Videos

Recently, I’ve had a couple of projects that require thumbnails for video posts. There are plugins out there to do this, but I wanted a simple, lightweight way. Good news is, this can be achieved very easily by making use of WordPress’s WP_Embed class.

 * Maybe get thumbnail from embed
 * @param string $string
 * @return bool
function get_embed_thumbnail_from_string_maybe ($string) {

    $found = preg_match_all('|^\s*(https?://[^\s"]+)\s*$|im', $string, $matches);
    if (!$found) return false;

    // nb: this can be used if we're just checking an embed exists and is supported
    //foreach ($matches[1] as $match) if (wp_oembed_get($match)) return $match;

    $embed = new WP_oEmbed();
    foreach ($matches[1] as $match) {
        if ($embed->get_html($match)) {
            return $embed->get_data($match)->thumbnail_url;
    return false;

Place the code above in a custom functionality class or, for a crude option, dump it in the functions.php file and call it when a thumbnail of the first video in a string is required. An obvious use case is the blog archive page when displaying thumbnails with each post link.

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