At least a quarter of my time on the internet consists of watching videos/listening to audio. On a busy day where I am at my laptop for 10 hours or more, that's 2.5hrs spent watching videos. But what if I told you I could cut that down by 30-50% while still consuming the very same content?

A quick bit for the geeks!

In recent years, HTML5 video/audio has been taking the internet by storm. Adding video/audio to your online content is now as easy as adding an image, and visitors do not need to install any plugins riddled with security holes (e.g. Flash).

HTML5's media element (HTMLMediaElement) has a playbackRate attribute - you can guess what that allows us to do. That's right, we can control the speed at which the video/audio plays!

So what's the secret?

I have found that I can watch most videos at a minimum of 1.5x speed without it making a difference to my experience - this equates to 1/3rd less time spent watching videos. Sometimes I can even push it to 2x speed - equating to 50% less time spent watching videos - which is great for when I'm watching a tutorial, gameplay, or even lectures. During a commute, I can fit an hour long podcast into 40 minutes by playing it at 1.5x speed.

So, how do you control the HTML5 video/auto playback speed? In the top two browsers, Firefox and Chrome, you can install the Video Speed Controller addon/extension.

Download

Firefox users: download Video Speed Controller from the Firefox Add-ons site
Chrome users: download Video Speed Controller fom the Chrome Web Store

If you're an Internet Explorer/Edge/Safari user, I will just shake my head in disappointment at you.

We'll come to mobile solutions at the end of this post...

How does it look?

Video Speed Controller is very uninstrusive. It sits in the top left corner of the video/audio player.

video-speed-controller-feature-1

Where does it work?

Anywhere you see a HTML5 video or audio - popular websites include YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, SoundCloud, Vimeo, TED amongst tens of thousands of others.

Using Video Speed Controller

You can use your mouse, however Video Speed Controller is hotkey enabled and the default hotkeys are:

  • s for slow down (default step 0.05x)
  • d for speed up (default step 0.05x)
  • z for rewind (default interval 10s)
  • x for forward (default interval 10s)
  • r to reset speed to 1.0x
  • g preset speed (default 1.8x)
  • v to show/hide controller

You can change these hotkeys to your own preferred hotkeys in the settings.

Note

On some sites you can already control video playback speed. YouTube, for example, allows you to speed up playback, however the options are limited to 1.25x, 1.5x and 2x.

What about on mobile?

Apps

On Android, you can download NewPipe through F-Droid. NewPipe will allow you to not only control the playback speed but even download videos. NewPipe supports YouTube and SoundCloud (beta).

Browsers

The only mobile browser which supports add-ons is Firefox on Android which you can download through Google Play Store.

Conclusion

By speeding up video/audio playback I most definitely feel I am using my time more efficiently. My ears/eyes/brain can process information faster than it is normally presented, and I like being able to take advantage of that.