If you’ve ever tried to change your Facebook profile picture, whether for your personal profile or fan page, you know how frustrating it can be. On top of Facebook’s technical glitches, which leave you wonder if you’re permanently stuck with that question mark of doom, the thumbnail never seems to look right.
On your personal profile thumbnail, you’re either a tiny speck in the distance or you’re showing off your left eyebrow. On your fan page, your brand’s logo is cut off. Here are some fan pages that still haven’t gotten it quite right:
Facebook recommends that profile pictures should be 200px wide. They height can vary up to three times the width. However, they don’t make it clear how the thumbnail that Facebook uses is generated from this picture.
You’ll find that Facebook crops images when generating a thumbnail, losing information around the edge. You can edit the thumbnail to drag it to a different part of your picture, but you cannot expand the thumbnail selection. So when you create your profile image that’s 200 pixels wide, allow a 12 pixel border around crucial information such as a brand name or logo to allow for automatic cropping.
Facebook thumbnails are always square, regardless of the shape of your profile image. So when using rectangular pictures, make sure to keep your desired thumbnail imagery within a square boundary. Then you can edit the thumbnail selection accordingly.
Step 1: Create a profile image using the correct dimensions
Your profile image will appear as a 160 x 160 pixel box. However, if you attempt uploading a picture that small, you will see an error message. Intuitive, right?
Create an image that is 200 x 200. The minimum upload size is 180 x 180, and the profile image will appear as 160 x 160, but I always create the image as a 200 x 200 file so it’s easy to know what border size I have to work with. Next, create a 12 x 12 border around the edge of your image. This will be the area that is cut off by Facebook in your thumbnail image. To make this easy for you, I have created a photoshop template that has a layer for this border.
Step 2: Upload your profile image
Go to your Facebook page and hover over the flag icon. Click the Add Profile Picture button that appears. If you already have a profile picture, hover over the image to reveal an Edit Profile Picture button instead.
Step 3 (optional): Edit your page thumbnail
Note that your thumbnail image may appear correctly right away. If so, you can skip this step. If you need to tweak the thumbnail after the photo uploads, or if your thumbnail appears off-center or cut off refresh the page, mouse over your profile picture and click Edit Profile Picture. Then click Edit Thumbnail.
Next, drag the little image until the main part of the profile image is within the thumbnail box. When you’re happy with the way it looks, click Save.