Most blogs and online news outlets have paywalls in place to limit access to their content. Although these paywalls are put up by sites to get paid for the quality content they produce, however, this can be quite frustrating for readers.
There are a few ways to get around these paywalls and in this post, I am going to list some of the most tried and tested ones. But, before getting into how to do so, let’s first understand what a paywall is.
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What is a paywall?
When a website blocks access to its content and asks you to get a paid subscription, that’s what’s called a paywall. Many online news publishers use paywalls including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.
If you come across a news story from one of these publications and want more detail or to see other related stories they’ve written, you will probably be prompted with something like Subscribe now for unlimited access!
You could still read parts of a story without subscribing, but not all of it. In some cases, you might only be able to read the first paragraph or two before being asked to sign up for access (in which case we recommend bookmarking it for later).
Paywalls can also pop up on blogs that have been monetized through advertising (ads appearing alongside their content). In some cases, bloggers may block access to certain posts unless you’re signed in as a member of their site.
How do paywalls work?
As mentioned above, paywalls work by blocking access to content unless you subscribe. The subscription method can vary depending on the publisher. In some cases, you get a subscription plan that gives you unlimited access to all of a publisher’s content.
In other cases, you may be able to purchase a subscription for just one article or for a set number of articles per month.
There are different types of paywalls, and the way they work can vary depending on the publisher. Let’s see some of its types:
- Hard paywall: A paywall that completely blocks access to content if you don’t have a subscription.
- Soft paywall: A paywall that doesn’t block access to all of the content on a website but does limit how much you can see without subscribing.
- Metered paywall: A paywall that allows you to see a certain number of articles for free each month before you’re prompted to subscribe.
- Freemium model: A freemium model is when a publisher offers some content for free while charging for other content.
- Patron model: A patron model is when a publisher asks for donations from readers in order to access its content.
Now that you have the basic information about paywalls, we’re going to show you how to get around these paywalls using some simple tips.
10 Ways to Get Past a Paywall
1. ‘Bypass Paywalls’ Firefox Extension
If you use Firefox, there’s a handy extension called Bypass Paywalls that will let you read articles even if you don’t have a subscription.
To install it, open Firefox and go to the Add-ons page. In the Search bar, type “Bypass Paywalls” and click on the Add to Firefox button.
Once it’s installed, you can open any website that has a paywall and click on the Bypass Paywalls button in your toolbar. This will let you read the article even if you don’t have a subscription.
2. Look for the article elsewhere button
At times, some articles on a website that has a paywall are copied on other websites that don’t have one. To find the same article on some other website, you can do a Google search for the title of the article and look for other websites that have published it.
For example, if you want to read an article from The New York Times but don’t have a subscription, you can search for “new york times paywall bypass” and you will find many websites that have copied the article.
You can also try searching for the title of the article followed by “pdf”. This will often find PDF versions of the article that you can read without having to pay for it.
3. Try the ‘Unpaywall’ Chrome Extension
If you use Chrome, there’s a handy extension called Unpaywall that will let you read articles even if you don’t have a subscription.
To install it, open the Extensions page in Chrome, type “Unpaywall” in the search bar, and click the Add to Chrome button.
Once it’s installed, you can open any website that has a paywall and click on the Unpaywall button in your toolbar. This will let you read the article even if you don’t have a subscription.
4. Reset your browser cookies
Another way to get past a paywall is to reset your browser cookies. For instance, if a website allows you to read only one or two articles before blocking access with a paywall, they are using an invisible tracking system to store information about the number of pages you’ve viewed.
So deleting your cookies will remove this block from counting the amount of articles you’ve read and make it appear as if you’re a new visitor, allowing for reading for some time before accessing again.
To reset your cookies, open your web browser and go to the Settings or Options page. In the Privacy tab, find the section called Clear browsing data and check the box Cookies and other site data. After this, click Clear Data.
5. Delete the paywall manually
On some websites, the paywall isn’t very strong. In such a case, you can delete the paywall by changing the source code of the website.
For this, all you need to do is to find the element which triggers the paywall with the developer tools of your browser and delete it. After that, you will be able to read the article without subscribing.
If you are using Google Chrome, you can access the Developer Tools by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I and a window like this will pop up:
To discover the source code of the paywall, go to the top left of Chrome’s tool. When you’ve found it, right-click on the data and select Delete Element. After that, reload the website.
6. Stop the page from fully loading
Another way to get past a paywall is to stop the page from fully loading. This will prevent the paywall from appearing and you’ll be able to read the article without subscribing.
To stop the page from fully loading, hold down the Shift key as you click on the link to the article. This will open the article in a new tab and the paywall will not appear.
7. Dig through archive sites
Archive sites are websites that store copies of old websites. This can be a great way to read articles that are behind a paywall, as the articles will be stored on the archive site for free.
To find an archive site for a particular website, go to Google and type in the following:
site: website name archive.org
This will show you all of the websites that have archived copies of the website you specified. Search for the topic, then click on any of these links to read the article for free.
8. Use a “Read-it-Later” tool
Paywalls pop up on a website when you access its content online. However, using a “read-it-later” tool, you can save articles for offline reading thus avoiding the paywall altogether.
The most popular read-it-later tool is Pocket. You can install the Pocket extension for your web browser so any time you come across an article hidden behind a paywall, you can click on the Pocket button to save it for offline reading.
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9. Convert the page to PDF
Another way to read articles offline and bypass the paywall is to convert the web page into PDF.
To convert the page to PDF, use a website like Web to PDF or PDF My URL. Paste the URL of the article into these websites, and they will convert the page to PDF for you. You can then save the PDF for offline reading.
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10. Sign up for a free trial
Last but not least, if you want to access articles on a website for a limited number of days, you can sign up for a free trial. Many websites offer a free trial of a varying number of days before you can subscribe so you can try out the service before paying.
But don’t forget to cancel your subscription before the free trial ends, or you’ll have to pay the subscription fee.
There you have it Ã¢ÂÂ 10 ways to read articles that are behind a paywall. Try out a few of these methods and see which one works best for you. Happy reading!