March 25, 2009 will

Improving video player applications with an old-school feature

Dear video player application writers, there is a simple feature that would improve my movie watching experience greatly. A feature that I have never seen implemented – on Linux or Windows, and that is the ability to remember the position in a video file where I stopped watching. With current video players, if I want to finish watching a movie that I started watching the day before, I have to drag the slider around and to do a mental binary search to find the point where I left off. What I would like the player to do is to remember where I left off and start playing from that point when I open the file again.

A VHS cassette

Remember these?

There is an obsolete piece of technology popular in the 80s and 90s that had this feature. You may remember it; the VHS cassette. Granted, it was a side-effect of the antiquated way it stored video, and not a design feature per se, but that doesn't make it any less useful. When you inserted a VHS cassette you could be pretty confident that it would start playing at the point where you left off…

It wouldn't be difficult to look up the last played position of a movie file and restore it when the file is next played. A filename and file-size is probably adequate to identify a movie file, and the player would only need to keep track of a small number of recent files. On operating systems that support it, the current play time could be stored in an extended file attribute, making it independent of a specific application.

However it is implemented, I think this is one old-school feature that deserves a come-back!

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Henrique Pinto
KDE's Codeine does that.
Paul Bonser
Miro ( actually supports this feature.

It's nice for longer things when you have to stop and come back to them, but it's kind of annoying when you want to go back and watch something from the start, but it's still in the ending credits when you start it up.
Metin Akat
smplayer (QT4 frontend to mplayer) does this.
XBMC ( also supports starting from where you stopped viewing last time.
James Thiele
Works on Mac OS X DVD player
Robin Munn
If your player has a “jump to time position” feature (for example, Ctrl-T in VLC for Win32) you can use that as a workaround. If I have to interrupt watching a video, I'll usually make a note like “Stopped at 26:32” in a little text file named (videoname).txt. It's not quite instant-resume, but it's only a couple of seconds, and I don't have to spend any time seeking.
Stephen Vermeulen
SageTV also does this, and it is a nice feature to have. I wish VLC media player did it too.
Calvin Spealman
The Playstation 3 does that for DVD and Bluray movies, and I believe for downloaded content, as well.
WIll McGugan
It seems there actually are a few applications that do this!

Thanks all.
Calvin Robinson
I think VLC has a Bookmark option too