Changing YouTube Playback Speed

This post originally appeared on the Algonquin Studios blog.

YouTube gives users the option to modify the playback speed of some videos. This is particularly useful in the case of videos that you are obligated to watch (training videos, terrible fan videos, the occasional conference talk, etc.) and want to get through quickly. You have the option to speed a video to one-and-a-half times normal speed and double normal speed. You can also slow a video to half speed or quarter speed, which can be handy when trying to draw out a training-over-lunch session.

In order to make a go of this, you’ll need to use the YouTube HTML5 player, which you can activate at http://www.youtube.com/html5 while logged into your Google account. If you worry about browser support (for both the HTML5 video element or the various codecs), the YouTube page will show you what your browser supports. In general, if you are using a current version of your favorite browser then you should be fine.

The opening image shows where the option lives. Sadly, that awesome video of Morrissey and George Michael doing film reviews has been pulled, so instead you can try it out on this video of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (I reference it in slide 58 of my Selfish Accessibility talk). The video also has closed captions and an audio description so it’s a great example of the accessibility features available for YouTube.

When at a video, click the gear icon at the bottom right and look for the Speed menu. If the video allows you to change its playback speed, it will be there with available options. This will only apply to the selected video. If you know of a setting to have it apply to all videos, please let me know.

If you still aren’t sure where this can handy, just try listening to Thundercats dialogue (particularly Panthro) at normal speed and then again at 1.5× normal speed. To me the difference is dramatic.

13 Comments

Reply

why is there no sound when on the 0.25 speed setting?

kronikbass; . Permalink
In response to kronikbass. Reply

I have no idea. As I am not a YouTube engineer, and I almost definitely did not create the video with which you are experiencing problems, I could only speculate. A quick Google search brought me to this maybe useful/less post.

aroselli; . Permalink
Reply

When I try to watch a video at a different speed it doesn’t change and instead plays at normal speed. Is anyone else having this problem and/or knows how to fix it?

You suck; . Permalink
In response to You suck. Reply

What browser (and version and platform)? URL of the video(s)?

Reply

Why, specifically, do some people speed up videos they upload to YouTube? I notice you mention that some people do it to avoid the drag of a meeting or webinar, but why do they do it on youtube? What’s the purpose of speeding up a cartoon, unless in doing so they somehow manage to avoid copyright laws and YouTube doesn’t delete it for violating such. Appreciate a response if you have one….

In response to Mark. Reply

Mark, it has nothing to do with copyright. Based on anecdotal evidence, some developers like to speed up conference videos or training sessions. These are often posted to YouTube, so they can do it here.

Based on the huge search traffic this post gets, many regular users just want to be done with entertainment videos that much sooner, perhaps in an effort to feel like they are wasting less time.

I do know that users with cognitive impairments, hearing loss, or other limitations like to slow videos down to be sure they are able to keep up.

My examples in the post are tongue-in-cheek.

Reply

I think some YT Videos are just slightly too fast Is it possible to slow them down to 80 or 90%?

In response to Nick66. Reply

The only speed options are what YouTube makes available.

Reply

I suppose a keyboard shortcut is just way too much to ask for? Presently it takes 3 clicks to change the speed of a video, then 1 more click to get rid of the pop up menu that lingers, covering
¼ of the screen. Freaken ridiculous.

Reply

I found a site not only can change the speed , it can change the pitch of the videos also. It help me big time on all those tutorial videos I have to watch , somehow my professor sounds better in a chipmunk voice rofl

jack_mh; . Permalink
Reply

With this Chrome extension you can change the speed of a Youtube video more precisely, and also change the pitch: Transpose – Pitch – Loop for videos

Reply

is there a quick way to alter the speed using a keyboard shortcut?

Grant Wright; . Permalink
In response to Grant Wright. Reply

Sadly, none that I know of. But I am also away from a keyboard to even play around.

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