The Tortoise and the Hare

Hacking Video Playback Speed

With a number of video providers allowing for 1.25x, 1.5x, and 2x video playback, I quickly find the lack of playback speed adjustment being excruciatingly painful when it’s not an available feature. I’d like to share a quick hack to empower you to watch videos faster, even when a player doesn’t provide the option.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

A Quick Background on HTML

A vast majority of the web content we digest every day is built through Hyper Text Markup Language (HMTL). There is a plethora of information available on HTML, but the important piece for our conversation today is that it’s built on structured <tags>.

Tags provide much of the standard functionality we expect in websites today and many different tags exist to help developers build websites. Luckily for us, these tags make it very easy to identify the exact resource we’d like to manipulate:
<video></video>

This helps us identify every place videos live on a web page, but how does that help us increase their playback speed?

How do I speed up my Videos?

Most web browsers include developer tools to assist in the creation and debugging of websites. These developer tools allow you to make local changes to the HTML delivered to your computer, but do not make changes for anyone else. To speed up our videos, we need to use the JavaScript Console.

In Google Chrome, the below hotkeys can be used to open the console. If you are using something other than Chrome, look up the steps for you respective browser.

  • Mac: Command+Option+J
  • Windows: Control+Shift+J

Once opened, copy/paste one of the following lines depending on your desired speed, number of videos on the page, and hit return or enter.

Here’s a visual of what the process will look like for each command

How does this command work?

Running this line of code in the console takes a look at our document (the web page), runs a query to select a <video> tag, and adjusts the playbackRate attribute (playback speed) to 1.5 times the normal rate.

Keep in mind, this will only work for video tags that have already been loaded to the page. You will need to run the command again in scenarios where content is paginated (like a LinkedIn feed) or if you navigate to a different page.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…

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Solutions engineer, music enthusiast, dog dad