How to Manage Your Facebook Timeline Cover Photo

A woman's hands using social media on a phone
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Facebook's cover photo feature is a perfect place to showcase your style right at the top of your timeline. It is used on both personal profile pages as well as pages and groups for businesses and organizations.

It's easier than ever to update your Facebook cover photo, and most of the work can be done right there on Facebook.

Choosing the Right Timeline Cover Photo

The cover photos on Facebook are the long and wide photos that appear on top of personal timelines and pages for businesses and organizations. This is a place to showcase your personality and is the first photo anyone who visits your timeline will see.

The dimensions of the cover photo are not like any standard photo size; it is more of a panoramic crop (851x315 pixels). It works best with horizontal photographs that have an interesting subject running along the width of the photo.

For instance, you might choose:

  • A photo of a dramatic sunset that you took in the backyard or while traveling.
  • A cityscape photographed at night showcasing the bright lights of the buildings.
  • A photo that is filled with autumn leaves or spring flowers.
  • A profile of your prized sports car.
  • A family portrait in which everyone is in a semi-horizontal line.
  • A picture of the family pet sleeping peacefully with their favorite toy.

The most important thing that you need to remember is whichever photo you choose for your cover photo; it will be cropped on the top and bottom. You can move the photo up and down when repositioning it, but you cannot zoom in or out or move it from side to side.

For the best timeline cover photo, choose an image that is:

  • Horizontal and at least 720px wide (Facebook will reject photos that are smaller than this). The cover photo size is approximately 851px wide by 315px tall.
  • An interesting subject along a narrow strip of the photo.
  • Color or black and white, it doesn't matter. However, you must upload the exact photo you want as the Facebook tool does not allow you to make any adjustments other than repositioning.
  • JPG files load fastest and are perfect for photos.
  • If you're adding text, such as on your business page, consider saving the file as a PNG for better results.

How to Change Your Timeline Cover Photo

Unlike in previous versions of Facebook's photo tools, there is no need to resize or crop your photo before uploading. Of course, you can still do this if you like, but any JPG file that meets the minimum requirements can be uploaded. The tools in Facebook will automatically downsize the file for you.

This makes changing your cover photo much easier.

  1. Login to Facebook and navigate to your timeline, business page, or group page.
  2. Click the camera icon that overlays the timeline photo (or the placeholder if you don't have a photo there already).
  3. Choose from one of the options in the drop-down menu:
    • Choose From My Photos - Photos you have previously shared on Facebook.
    • Upload Photo - Add a new photo directly from your computer or mobile device.
    • There are also options to Reposition and Remove the current photo.
  4. No matter which option you choose, navigate to and select the photo you want to use as your cover photo.
  5. Once chosen, Facebook will upload and place the photo in the cover photo slot.
  6. Drag the image around to reposition it until it is in a place that you like.
  7. Click Save Changes.

Creating a Custom Timeline Cover Image

If you want more control over the cover photo, you can create a custom file to upload rather than using an existing image and relying on the built-in crop tool. You might do this on a business page to add your logo on top of an image or to add a watermark to a photo to protect it from misuse.

It's very easy to do:

  1. Select the photo you wish to use and open it in your favorite photo editor.
  2. Select the crop tool.
  3. Enter "851px" in the width box and "315px" in the height box.
  4. Enter "72" in the dpi/ppi/resolution box.
  5. Drag the crop box over your image to create a pleasing composition.
  6. Approve the crop (enter, left click, or whatever method your program uses).
  7. Add any additional elements of text, logos, etc. that you like.
  8. Use "Save As" and save the file.

A Note About Privacy and Cover Photos

Facebook cover photos are public and visible to everyone who visits your timeline. There is no way to set them otherwise while they are in use as a cover photo. Because of this, you may wish to add a watermark or logo to your photo to help prevent theft.

  • Choose your cover photos carefully and avoid any images that you do not want the world to see.
  • You can change privacy settings on previous cover photos after they have been removed from the cover photo slot.
  • When you change your cover photo, a post is automatically generated on your timeline and your friends will see it in their notifications. You can hide it from your timeline if you like.
  • Clicking on the cover photo will bring up the uncropped photo, and you can edit or add a caption, tag people, and treat it like any other photo you upload to Facebook.
  • All photos that you have used as a cover photo will be stored in a 'Cover Photos' album on Facebook.