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Thumbnails are reduced-size versions of pictures or videos, used to help in recognizing and organizing them, serving the same role for images as a normal text index does for words. In the age of digital images, visual search engines and image-organizing programs normally use thumbnails, as do most modern operating systems.
Thumbnails are ideally implemented on web pages as separate, smaller copies of the original image, in part because one purpose of a thumbnail image on a web page is to reduce bandwidth and download time.
Some web designers produce thumbnails with HTML or client-side scripting that makes the user's browser shrink the picture, rather than use a smaller copy of the image.
Displaying a significant part of the picture instead of the full frame can allow the use of a smaller thumbnail while maintaining recognizability. For example, when thumbnailing a full-body portrait of a person, it may be better to show the face slightly reduced than an indistinct figure.