Youtube and Vimeo: Adjust Video Playback Speed


I like to watch a number of educational and informational videos (Programming tutorials, TED Talks, etc), but I am impatient. The average person speaks at 125-150 words per minute, but we can comprehend speech up to approximately 500 words per minute. So I can learn much faster than you can talk! I’ve been listening to podcasts at 2x speed for years and really appreciate the efficiency. So I’d like to be able to do the same with videos online. Thankfully there are now some ways to do just that, using technologies that avoid the “chipmunk” effect that previously characterized high-speed recordings.


Youtube has recently introduced their HTML5 viewer which is compatible with most modern browsers and allows viewers to adjust playback speed. Here’s how:

1. Visit this link:, and look for this button:

2. Once you have clicked the “Join” button, return to any Youtube page and click the cog-shaped Settings icon at the bottom of the video:

This will pop up a menu that includes playback speed selections. Experiment with the 1.5x and 2x. These settings don’t always work well on videos with poor audio quality, but on any well-produced video the ease with which you can comprehend the speakers at 2x may well surprise you.

[Note: Once you “Join the HTML5 Trial”, the setting should be permanent on that browser. However, if you have Antivirus software on your computer that automatically deletes cookies, you may need to add the html5 link to your Favorites and return to that page and re-join whenever the Speed options don’t appear on the video Settings menu.]


Unfortunately, Vimeo does not provide this functionality, and have recently announced that they don’t intend to add it. This is a short-sighted decision in my opinion, but in any case there is a (somewhat clunky) work-around: Download the video to your machine and use the playback settings available in your default video player. This is, in fact, what the Vimeo staff in the above-linked forum suggest. Unfortunately, they do not explain how to do that, so I will.

Step One: Download the video

There are actually two options for downloading videos from Vimeo:

1. Built-in Vimeo download support

Some Vimeo videos support downloads natively. On the Vimeo video page look for a button or link like one of these:

Unfortunately, not all Vimeo videos support this option, so you will have to resort to option #2…

2. Third-party download support.

There are a number of websites out there that claim to download Vimeo videos for you, but the sites are sketchy and require installation of unknown software – something I am unwilling to do. However, if you have the Firefox web browser on your machine you can obtain a safe and well-tested plugin that can download videos for you. Here’s how:

a. Get Firefox, if you don’t already have it.

b. Obtain the “Download Helper” plugin. Once installed, you should see the DownloadHelper icon near the top of your toolbar:

c. Visit the Vimeo video page, and click “Play”. Once the video starts playing, the DownloadHelper icon should become colored and animated (this may take a moment):

d. Once the icon is animated, click on the down-arrow next to the icon, then click on the video link that appears and choose “Download”:

This will enable you to save the video to your machine. Store it in a place you can easily find it after the download is complete. A small status icon on the Firefox toolbar will tell you how many minutes remain in the download process.

Step Two: Adjust the speed on your video player

Once you have downloaded the video, you can play it back in your default video playback program. I use Windows Media Player, which comes installed with all Windows machines. This player contains a little-known feature that I use all the time.

1. Start playing the video.

2. Right-click anywhere on the video and click “Enhancements” and then “Play speed settings”

3. The Play speed settings dialog will open in a separate window:

Adjust the speed to your liking, and there you go: Start learning stuff faster!

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4 Responses to Youtube and Vimeo: Adjust Video Playback Speed

  1. Adi says:

    Thanks so much for your suggestions on how to work around the Vimeo speed and download constraints! Wish I had known how to do this months ago!
    For video playback on my Mac, I use VLC (found at ) and can speed up or slow down the video quite well.

  2. Lynda Moss says:

    Thanks for the information. Another option is to enable Developer Tools. In Chrome (OS X), type the shortcut [Cmd+Option+ i] or go to [Options » More Tools » Developer Tools].

    Once the developer console pops up, go to the Resources tab. In the left hand pane, drill down until you find the Media folder, right click Open Link In New Tab. Right click, Select Save Video As…

    This technique is also useful for locating full size image files.

  3. Rugby says:

    This short bookmarklet will work in all services, just paste it in the address bar: javascript:void(document.getElementsByTagName(‘video’)[0].playbackRate=1.25);

  4. Nils says:

    There is another option to control the playback rate, working on both Youtube and Vimeo. You do not need to download the files.
    It also makes use of the Developer Tools, which you can open with F12 in many browsers. There, on the Javascript console, you can enter:
    document.getElementsByTagName(“video”)[0].playbackRate =

    You can find more on the HTML5video API under

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