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Summary:

So it turns out there’s a sneaky way to “speed-listen” to podcasts on iPhones/iPods. It’s useful because while here are some great podcasts available they take time to get though, and if you subscribe to a few of them that time commitment can get pretty large.

So it turns out there’s a sneaky way to “speed-listen” to podcasts (and audiobooks) on iPhones/iPods — speeding them up so you listen to them faster. It’s useful because while here are some great podcasts available — like TWiT and jkOntheRun’s Mobile Tech Roundup — they take time to get through in their entirety, and if you subscribe to a few of them that time commitment can get pretty large.

The iPhone/iPod has a built-in control in the player to speed up the playback of audio files, but it’s only available if you set up the audio files as podcasts or audiobooks — if your device thinks it’s playing a music file (the default), it won’t offer you the control.

To set up the track correctly in iTunes, select it and go to File->Get Info, and under the “Options” tab, ensure that “Media Kind” is set to “Podcast” (or “Audiobook”).

On an iPhone/iPod touch, tap the screen while the file is playing and you’ll see a little “1x” icon at the top-right — tap that, and it’ll change to “2x”  Your file is now playing at twice the speed. Better yet, it seems to use time stretching, so you don’t end up listening to high-pitched “chipmunk” voices.

This technique works pretty well on all the podcasts I listen to; even podcasters who speak fairly quickly to start with remain understandable — and you can always quickly switch back to normal speed if things get too fast.

Note that you could also do something similar by listening to your podcasts using Windows Media Player, which also has a built-in speed control (which actually works on all audio files, not just those tagged as podcasts), or you could speed up the files themselves by pre-processing them using software like Audacity.

Have a tip for more productive podcast consumption? Share it in the comments!

By Simon Mackie

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  1. That’s an exellent tip! I speed read a lot and always wished there was a way to speed listen to podcasts. Now there is!

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  2. Hmmm. I think the last thing most of us need is another way to speed up our consumption. Not one of us will ever manage to read, listen to, or watch everything out there. Why not just take our time with what we do read, listen to, and watch and reflect on what is there?

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    1. Why? What’s your problem with wanting to consume more information in less time? Try it, you really can listen to podcasts at twice the speed with no loss in comprehension.

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  3. You forget to mention how to do this on iPods with the clickwheel. When a podcast is playing, click and hold the center button. After a second or two, a menu will appear with Slower, Normal, Faster. Faster is the same as the 2x on an iPhone or Touch.

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    1. Gary Greenberg Thursday, May 20, 2010

      I have an iPod nano ver 3. I don’t find this option. Do you know if it was a new feature with ver. 4?

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    2. I have an Ipod classic 80GB circa 2008. It doesn’t work for me for audio books or podcasts.

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  4. [...] Via webworkerdaily. com [...]

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  5. [...] Quick Tip: Speed-listen to Podcasts on Your iPhone/iPod by Simon Mackie [...]

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  6. Great info and very helpful. Do you happen to know how to return iTunes (on the iPhone) to normal speed? I am able to increase the listening speed on my iPhone, but do not know how to get it back to normal.

    Thanks in advance for your ideas.

    Regards, Mark

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    1. I don’t habve my iPhone with me, but try tapping the 2x button again — I believe it then goes to 1/2 speed. If you tap it again, it should return to normal speed.

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