How To Speed Up Video Playback

Have you noticed how much online video is on the web or available for download? At first, it was mainly online tutorials that I saw, but now we’ve got everything from full college courses to “how to” channels on YouTube. While there’s been an explosion of content, I’m still constrained by my time. I needed find a way to speed things up so I could watch more content in the same time. Below are several free and commercial tools that allow you to speed up your videos.

I never worried about video playback speed until I took an online course where the lessons averaged 120 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I get antsy after 90 minutes. There were times when I just wanted to fast forward the video just to get to the end. The problem with that strategy is you often lose good content in between.

My optimum solution was to find a program that played the videos faster, but at a constant and pleasant rate. By “pleasant”, I didn’t want to hear annoying chipmunk voices or see people in highly animated modes. Surprisingly, two programs I routinely use included speed enhancements, but were hidden. I also learned there are several ways to play videos at faster speeds, but it depends on video file format and file location.

Speeding up Online Videos

Most times, I was trying to speed up videos that I was viewing on the web. In these instances, the best program I’ve found is Enounce MySpeed . It’s a small app that monitors online videos. If the tool detects that it can adjust the video speed, it displays a small slider. This slider allows you to adjust video playback speed within a set range from .3x to 5x.

enounce playback slider

In my testing, I found that I could easily speed up the video to 1.4-1.8x without feeling I was losing information. In some cases, I could go faster, but it depended on the speaker and the content. Some content isn’t made to go too fast. Moreover, if the video plays back too fast, the voices take on an annoying pitch. This problem happens in all players and I think MySpeed has less sound distortion than other programs.

One limitation to MySpeed is the program doesn’t work on all online video files. As example, I was hoping it would work on the free Excel tutorials I have on this site. The problem is that Enounce needs to have a sound stream for its algorithm to work. My tutorials don’t have a sound track as I use text captions to conserve bandwidth. The program also requires a website to use a Flash video player. These types of players are common and used on popular sites such as:

  • YouTube
  • Hulu
  • CNN
  • BBC
  • Amazon Instant Videos

To speed up videos simply requires you to drag the slider bar control to the right. If the program detects a flash video, you’ll start to see and hear the video at the new speed. Your setting remains in place for subsequent videos.

MySpeed includes a fully functional 7 day trial or you can purchase the Windows version for $29.95

Speeding up YouTube Videos

If your primary goal is to speed up YouTube videos, there’s a free option in testing. You’ll have to sign up for the YouTube HTML5 trial and use a supported browser. You can see in the screen snap below, the YouTube interface is slightly different than in my previous example. The speed control is built into the bottom portion of the video frame. Clicking the Speed button opens a menu where you can increase the video playback from .25x to 2x.

YouTube speed controls

As the speed feature is still in testing, it doesn’t work on all online videos. Some known limitations include full screen videos and videos with ads. There may be additional issues if you’re testing other YouTube features.

Using Windows Media Player to Speed Up Videos

Sometimes the video you want to speed up is a movie you’ve downloaded to your computer such as an .avi, .wmv or .mp4 file. In this case, I would use Windows Media Player enhancements. The free program is included with most versions of Microsoft Windows and you can download the newest version from their site .

To adjust Windows Media playback speeds,

  1. Open your video in Windows Media Player
  2. Right-click to open the pop-up menu
  3. Choose Enhancements
  4. Select “play speed settings
  5. Adjust the slider bar from 1.x to your desired playback speed.

Windows Media Player speed controls

Using QuickTime Player to Speed Up Videos

Another popular video player is Apple’s free QuickTime video player that is bundled with iTunes. It plays .mov, .mp4, .avi and MPEG-1 files. Like Windows Media player, it also allows you to adjust the speed on videos you’ve downloaded to your PC.

To adjust QuickTime playback speed,

  1. Open you movie in QuickTime Player.
  2. From the Window menu, select “Show A/V controls
  3. Adjust the slider for Playback speed in the bottom right. Your options are from half-speed to 3x normal.

QuickTime video speed controls

Regardless of what type of video you’re watching, there are ways you can adjust the speed settings. The key is to find which speed works for you. I find that when I’m learning material, I like to view using a moderate speed increase. On subsequent passes when I’m reviewing material, I’ll speed up the video playback speed even more. The bottom line is that you can control the speed if you wish.