Fast-Forward and Rewind iPhone Video Without Scrub

Rewind and Fast-Forward Video on iPhone Without Scrub

The video player on the iPhone does not offer a fast-forward and rewind feature. Instead, the user must scrub through the video using a finger. This article demonstrates how to fast forward and rewind iPhone videos without using the scrub control.

I love my iPhone and iPad, but I often feel they offer a watered-down computing experience. If I watch a video using QuickTime on my Mac, I can fast-forward, rewind and scrub through videos, using the Magic Trackpad. It’s a great user interface. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to include fast-forward and rewind controls for its stock video player. I’m sure the App Store offers third-party video players with these capabilities, however, they will not integrate with the stock apps. If you view a video in Safari, it will use the stock iOS video player. If someone sends you a video in an email, Mail will also use the stock video player. We can hope Apple will add these essential features, but there is a way to do this now.

Use iPhone Headphones to Fast-Forward and Rewind Videos

I wrote an article about iPhone headphone tips a while back. It turns out that those ear buds can control quite a bit of iPhone functionality. It’s possible to rewind and fast-forward music with the headphones.

One day, I was watching a video on my iPad with my iPhone ear buds. I was scrubbing through the video, but it was such a chore. I found it difficult to scrub at a pace that allowed me to see what I was skipping. I am aware that you can vary the scrub speed, but it proved to be cumbersome on a streaming video. I tried using the headphones to fast-forward, and it worked! I now use this trick all the time.

First, plug your Apple ear buds into an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Next, find a video. Any video will work, even web-based videos in Safari. To fast-forward, tap the center button on the headphones once and then hold it down on the second press. The video will fast-forward as long as the center button is held down.

How to fast forward video with iPhone headphones

To rewind, tap the center button twice and hold it down on the third press. The video will continue rewinding while the button is depressed.

How to rewind video with iPhone headphones

You can’t control fast-forward and rewind speed, unlike on a Mac. The video will rewind and fast-forward at 8X speed. This means you can fast-forward through 4 minutes of video in 30 seconds.

You can also pause and resume video using the headphones. Simply press the center button once to pause. Press it again to resume video playback. Of course, you can adjust the headphone volume using the + and – buttons on the headphones.

Unfortunately, this trick only seems to work with the stock iOS video player. I tried to fast forward and rewind with headphones using Netflix and HBO NOW to no avail. I was able to pause and resume playback. Controlling headphone volume also works with these apps.

This trick will also work over AirPlay. Of course, you can just use the Apple TV remote to fast-forward and rewind at three different speeds, as well as skip video at regular intervals. I think Apple TV even has better video control capabilities than an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. We can only hope that Apple will add multiple speeds of fast-forwarding and rewinding to the stock iOS video player.


  1. It’s bizarre to me, but it seems impossible to skip forward 30 seconds in a video — or backward — with a simple gesture. I watch lectures, etc. at the gym, and often would like to flip back to repeat what I just heard. Not a problem in a podcast, but seems to be impossible in the video. Intuitively, I think you should be able to swipe right to fast forward, swipe left to repeat the last 30 seconds, swipe up for increased volume, etc. These should be built-in — after all, Apple invented all this. Perhaps it’s there and I’m simply missing it?

    1. No, you’re not missing it. It’s not there. With iOS, they decided to use a touch-based scrub interface for fast forwarding and rewinding. You can either use that or the headphone trick mentioned in the article. I’m not too fond of the scrub either. You can get fine-grained control of the scrub by moving your finger down after you have initiated contact with the control. It presents these instructions on screen, next to the scrub bar.

    1. I know. It would be great if Apple realized that and added ff and rw buttons to their video player. You can’t use a different video player, because iOS only has one. Even if you use Chrome, it will use the standard iOS video player.

      Apple TV is the same thing — no ff and rw feature. You have to scrub and there is no workaround.

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