Have you noticed how much online video is 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 time. So I needed to find a way to speed things up so I could watch more content at the same time. Below are several free and commercial tools that allow you to change the video playback speed.
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 to get to the end. The problem with that strategy is you often lose good content in between.
My optimum solution was to figure out how to speed up videos on Windows 10, but at a constant and pleasant rate. This is similar to how I used Audacity to speed up my audio files. 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 several ways to play videos faster, but it depends on video file format and file location.
Speed Up or Slow Down YouTube Videos
If your primary goal is to speed up YouTube videos, the speed option is now built-in. This feature is great for certain videos; you can speed up the video and slow it down. The steps are pretty simple.
- Find a YouTube video.
- In the lower right portion of the playback bar, click the circular gear icon.
- A small pop menu will appear with options for your video.
- Click Speed.
- Select your optimal speed from the menu.
Changing Windows Media Player Playback Speed
Sometimes the video you want to speed up is a movie you’ve downloaded to your computers, such as a .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.
To Adjust Windows Media Playback
- Open your video in Windows Media Player.
- Right-click to open the pop-up menu.
- Choose Enhancements.
- Select “Play speed settings”
- Adjust the slider bar from 1.x to your desired playback speed.
How to Speed Up QuickTime Player
Another popular video player is Apple’s free QuickTime video player that was once bundled with iTunes. Apple no longer supports the program, but people still have it. It plays .mov, .mp4, .avi and MPEG-1 files. Like Windows Media player, it also allows you to adjust the speed of videos you’ve downloaded to your PC.
To Adjust QuickTime Playback Speed,
- Open your movie in QuickTime Player.
- From the Window menu, select “Show A/V controls.”
- Adjust the slider for Playback speed in the bottom right. Your options are from half-speed to 3x normal.
Try a Browser Extension
While many videos now have a toolbar that allows the user to change speed, some do not. For example, I host my videos on Wistia and they provide this feature. However, HTML5 videos have a feature that allows the playback speed to be controlled even if the toolbar doesn’t show that feature. One Chrome browser extension that can do this is called Video Speed Controller. It’s a small, but configurable toolbar that sits atop of the video.
Apart from using the toolbar buttons, you can also use keyboard shorts. The toolbar has a settings panel that allows you to change key assignments, speed values, and even blacklist sites where you don’t want the toolbar to show. Another advantage is you can use the toolbar on local files you view in the Chrome browser although you’ll need to change some Chrome settings.
⚠ The extension only works on HTML5 videos.
Speed up Flash Videos
Sometimes you need to speed up videos embedded on websites, but the video player only has a play button and volume controls. 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. The program works with flash and HTML5 videos. Unfortunately, it does not work with QuickTime videos.
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 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. For example, it won’t work on the early tutorials I did that used captions. The problem is that Enounce needs to have a sound stream for its algorithm to work. The program also requires the use of Adobe Flash, which some people block for security reasons.
To speed up videos requires you to drag the slider bar control to the right. If the program detects a flash video, you’ll start seeing and hearing the video at a 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. They have both Windows and Mac versions. I would encourage you to start with the trial before purchasing to ensure there are no compatibility issues.
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.