How to Change YouTube Playback Speed (Slow Motion, 1.5x, etc.)

How to Change YouTube Playback Speed

How many hours a day do you spend watching YouTube videos? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could chop that time in half?

One of the benefits of the HTML5 <video> element is the ability to easily change the playback speed. Essentially, what this means, is you can watch your videos in slow motion, or speed them up.

The average adult reads & comprehends text at about 250-300 words per minute (wpm). But the average rate of speech for English speakers is 100-150 wpm (reference). Since we can listen, read & understand faster than we can talk, we can save time when watching videos.

I’ll show you a quick-and-easy way to change the YouTube playback speed of videos. Personally, I like 1.5x for most presentations, tutorials, educational videos, etc. 2x is too fast, and 1.25x is good, but I can understand faster.

How to Change YouTube Playback Speed

1. Make Sure You’re in HTML5 Mode

  • Visit https://www.youtube.com/html5
  • Make sure that your browser supports HTML5 video
  • If you are still playing videos using Adobe Flash Player, you should have an option to turn on HTML5 video

YouTube HTML5 Player Page

2. YouTube Video Settings

  • Open up any YouTube video in your browser
  • Look to the bottom-right of the player for a settings cog (it might say HD over top it)
  • Click this icon

YouTube Playback Speed Settings

3. YouTube Playback Speed Options

  • Click on “Speed” (it should be on “Normal” by default)
  • Choose your playback speed
    • Slow Motion: 0.25, 0.5
    • Speed Up: 1.25, 1.5, 2
YouTube Playback Speeds
Options for YouTube Playback speed

YouTube Playback Speed Caveat

  • This only works for YouTube’s web player; NOT on it’s mobile apps for Android & iPhone

Mobile Phone Workaround

When on your mobile phone or iPhone, if you choose to play YouTube videos on the mobile web player (m.youtube.com) instead of the native mobile app, then you can change the YouTube playback speed on your phone.

Michael from stringCode has also developed an iOS app that functions as a Safari extension to allow you to control YouTube video speed on your iPhone.

Playback Speed for Vimeo & Wistia

Wistia now has built-in support for video speed. Look for the settings cog in the lower-right corner of the video, and adjust the speed there.

Vimeo & Wistia are two of the other big players in video hosting. Unfortunately, Vimeo still doesn’t offer the ability to easily adjust playback speed of their videos. However, there is a workaround.

Video Speed Controller Chrome Extension

There’s a Chrome extension called Video Speed Controller. For ALL videos playing in HTML5 (which will include most Vimeo videos), it adds an option to adjust your playback speed. You can even do so in increments of 1/10 (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.).

Video Tutorial


I hope this helped you understand how to change the YouTube playback speed when watching videos, and gain some time back in your life to do more exciting things… or just watch that stupid cat video over and over again in slow motion (to each his own).

2 Commentson "How to Change YouTube Playback Speed (Slow Motion, 1.5x, etc.)"

  1. /

    I made an action extension for iOS Safari that does just that. For those unaware, action extension basically adds button to Safari action sheet that allows you to adjust video playback speed. Works on both iPhone and iPad. It works with YouTube and virtually any other HTML5 video player, in Safari itself, rather then having to open different app. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1205188880

    → Reply
    1. (Author) /

      Very cool, Michael! Thanks for sharing. I updated the post to include a link to your app.

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