Control QuickTime Player playback via the keyboard

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If you use Final Cut (Pro or Express), you’re probably familiar with the J-K-L keyboard trifecta. These three keys control video playback—press J to play the video in reverse, press K to stop playback, and press L to play the video forward as usual—and they’re amazingly useful if you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard instead of the mouse.

What I didn’t know until just recently is that these same controls also work in QuickTime Player (for QuickTime version 7.3 and newer, at least), which is used by a great many more people than is Final Cut. So the next time you’re watching a video, try using the J-K-L keys to control the video playback.

What makes these keys even more powerful is that the J and L keys respond to multiple presses. On the first press, the video plays at normal speed. Press the key again, though, and the playback speed increases. Each press of the key will increase the playback speed, up to a point. When you press K, your video playback will instantly come to a screeching halt. When you stop the playback, QuickTime Player also resets the acceleration curve, so the next press of J or L will start playback at the movie’s normal speed.

Once you’ve tried using J-K-L for playback control, you’ll probably find the other methods nowhere near as fast or easy—I know I quickly adopted to it in Final Cut Express, and it’s great being able to use the same keys in QuickTime Player.

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