22 January 2024

How to Bypass a Paywall

By Ronald Smith

Ever hit a roadblock when trying to read an article online because of a pesky paywall? Yeah, me too. Thankfully, there are some clever ways to get around them, and I’m going to spill the beans on a few tried-and-true methods. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what a paywall is.

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What Exactly is a Paywall, Anyway?

When I stumble upon a website that won’t let me see its content unless I pay, they have what they call a paywall. A bunch of news websites do this, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.

Let’s say I find an interesting news article from one of these websites and I want to read more or see similar stories they’ve written. Usually, I’ll be prompted with something like “Subscribe now for unlimited access!”

But here’s the thing: I can still read parts of the story without subscribing, just not the whole thing. Sometimes, they’ll let me read the first paragraph or two and then ask me to sign up (you should totally bookmark it for later in case that happens!).

Have you ever come across a situation where you can’t access certain blog posts unless you become a member or subscribe? It’s frustrating, right? That’s because of paywalls. Paywalls are like digital barriers that prevent you from accessing content on a website unless you pay or subscribe.

So, how do paywalls actually work?

Well, paywalls are designed to restrict your access to content unless you become a subscriber. The way you subscribe can differ from one website to another. Sometimes, you can get a subscription plan that allows you unlimited access to all the content on a website.

In other cases, you may have the option to purchase a subscription just for one article or a set number of articles per month.

There are different types of paywalls, and each works differently depending on the website. Let’s take a look at some of these types:

    Let’s talk about paywalls. They’re those things that can sometimes stand between you and the content you want to see on a website. There are different types of paywalls out there, so let me break them down for you.

    – First, we have the hard paywall. This one completely blocks your access to content if you don’t have a subscription. It’s like a big digital wall that says “Sorry, no entry without a paid ticket.”

    – Next up, we have the soft paywall. This one is a little more lenient. It doesn’t block access to all the content on a website, but it does limit how much you can see without subscribing. It’s like a velvet rope that says “You can come in, but only so far.”

    – Then there’s the metered paywall. This is a bit different. It lets you see a certain number of articles for free each month, but after that, it’s subscription time. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet, but you only get a few free samples before they ask you to pay up.

    – Now, let’s talk about the freemium model. This is when a publisher offers some content for free, but charges for other content. It’s like getting a taste of something delicious for free, but if you want seconds, you have to pull out your wallet.

    – Last but not least, we have the patron model. This is different from the others because it involves asking for donations from readers in order to access content. It’s like going to a fancy art gallery and being asked to make a contribution at the door.

    So, those are the different types of paywalls you might come across while browsing the web. Whether it’s a hard paywall, a soft paywall, a metered paywall, a freemium model, or a patron model, they all have their own way of trying to get you to pay up.

    So, you want to know how to get past paywalls, huh? Well, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that will help you bypass those pesky barriers. Let’s dive in!

    10 Tips for Getting Around Paywalls

    1. Use the ‘Bypass Paywalls’ Firefox Extension

    If you’re a Firefox user, there’s a nifty extension called Bypass Paywalls that can work wonders. It allows you to read articles without a subscription. Here’s how to get it:

    Open up Firefox and head to the Add-ons page. In the Search bar, type in “Bypass Paywalls” and give that Add to Firefox button a click.

    Once it’s installed, you’re all set! Just visit a website with a paywall and click on the Bypass Paywalls button in your toolbar. It’s like magic – you can now read the article without a subscription.

    2. Seek out the “Article Elsewhere” option

    Sometimes, it happens that articles on a website with a paywall get copied on other websites that don’t have one. So if you want to find the same article on a different website, you can simply do a Google search using the title of the article, and then look for other websites that have published it.

    Let’s say you want to read an article from The New York Times but don’t have a subscription. In that case, you can search for “new york times paywall bypass” and you’ll come across various websites that have copied the article.

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    If you’re looking for a way to access articles without paying for them, here are a few methods you can try:

    1. Search for the article title followed by “pdf”

    One trick you can use is to search for the title of the article followed by the word “pdf”. This often helps you find PDF versions of the article that can be read for free.

    2. Install the ‘Unpaywall’ Chrome Extension

    If you use Google Chrome as your browser, there’s a nifty extension called Unpaywall that allows you to read articles even if you don’t have a subscription.

    To install it, simply open the Extensions page in Chrome, type “Unpaywall” in the search bar, and click the “Add to Chrome” button.

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    Once you install it, you can open any website that has a paywall and just click on the Unpaywall button in your toolbar. This lets you read the article even if you don’t have a subscription.

    4. Reset your browser cookies

    Another option for bypassing a paywall is to reset your browser cookies. For example, if a website only lets you read one or two articles before blocking access with a paywall, they’re using a hidden tracking system to keep track of how many pages you’ve viewed.

    By deleting your cookies, you can remove this block and make it appear as if you’re a new visitor. This gives you the ability to read for a while before you need to reset again.

    To refresh your cookies, simply follow these steps:

    1. First, open up your web browser.

    2. Look for the settings button or menu, usually located in the top right corner.

    3. Once you’ve found it, click on it to access the settings or options page.

    4. Now, navigate to the privacy tab.

    5. In the privacy tab, you will find a section called “Clear browsing data.”

    6. Click on this section to proceed.

    7. Within the “Clear browsing data” options, you will see a checkbox for “Cookies and other site data.”

    8. Make sure to check this box.

    9. Lastly, click on “Clear Data” to reset your cookies.

    That’s it! Your cookies will now be refreshed, giving you a clean slate for your browsing experience.

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    5. Get past the paywall yourself

    There are websites out there with weak paywalls, making it easier to bypass them. If you find yourself facing one of these, you can manually remove the paywall by tweaking the website’s source code.

    This process involves identifying the specific element that triggers the paywall using your browser’s developer tools, and then removing it. Once done, you’ll have full access to the article without needing to subscribe.

    To access the developer tools in Google Chrome, simply press Ctrl + Shift + I. This will bring up a window like the one shown below:

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    To find the source code of the paywall, go to the top left of Chrome’s tool. Once you locate it, right-click on the data and choose to delete it. After that, simply reload the website.

    Another method to bypass a paywall is by preventing the page from fully loading. By doing this, the paywall won’t appear and you’ll be able to read the article without subscribing.

    To stop the page from fully loading, hold down the Shift key while clicking on the article link. This will open the article in a new tab, and the paywall won’t show up.

    You can also explore archive sites, which store copies of old websites. These sites can be a great resource for reading articles that are behind a paywall, as the articles are stored on the archive site for free.

    If you’re looking for an old version of a website, I can show you how to do it! Just head over to Google and type in the following:

    site: website name archive.org

    When you hit enter, Google will display all the websites that have saved copies of the website you’re interested in. Once you find the right one, click on the link and you can read the article for free!

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    8. Save articles for later with a handy tool

    Have you ever come across a website that asks you to pay to read an article? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Well, I’ve got a solution for you!

    There’s this amazing tool called Pocket that lets you save articles to read later, even if they’re behind a paywall. All you have to do is install the Pocket extension on your web browser. Once it’s set up, whenever you stumble upon an article hidden behind a paywall, just click on the Pocket button, and voila! The article is saved for you to enjoy offline.

    How to Bypass a Paywall

    If you’re looking for a way to save articles to read later, there are several tools you can try. Some options include Instapaper and Evernote. Give them a go to figure out which one works best for you

    5 Apps for Offline Website Access

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    9. Convert the page to PDF

    One way to read articles offline and get around paywalls is to convert web pages into PDFs.

    To convert a page to PDF, you can use websites like Web to PDF or PDF My URL. Just paste in the article’s URL, and they’ll convert it to a PDF for you. Then, you can save the PDF and read it when you’re offline.

    How to Bypass a Paywall

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    10. Get a Taste with a Free Trial

    Guess what? You can access articles on a website for a limited number of days by signing up for a free trial. It’s like a sneak peek before committing. Different websites offer different trial durations, so you can test the waters before making a decision.

    Jot this down in your notes: make sure to cancel your subscription before the trial ends to avoid any charges.

    In Conclusion

    There you have it! I’ve shared 10 awesome ways you can read articles behind a paywall. Give them a try and see which one suits you best. Happy reading!