You read an intriguing article on your favorite publication, but it hits you with a paywall halfway through. If you currently cannot afford to pay for a subscription or are having trouble making payment, the tips below can help you bypass paywalls and play subscription-based content for free.
Before continuing, we should mention that not all paywalls are built equal. Therefore, one method may not allow you to bypass the paywall of all websites. It is also important to specify that this message is purely informative; we do not advocate circumventing paywalls.
A lot of effort and resources go into content creation. Publishers need to make more money to create premium content. For this reason, many online publishers use paywalls to increase revenue generation. Users who pay a specified fee will have access to locked or paid content. There are two main types of paywalls:
1. Hard paywalls
This type of paywall requires the initial payment of a (subscription) fee before accessing any content. Websites with hard paywalls will only allow you to read an excerpt from an article. You will need to pay a subscription fee to access the full content.
2. Flexible paywalls
Publications using soft paywalls allow non-paying members to read a limited number of articles during a specified period/session. Medium is a publishing platform that uses a soft paywall. Members without a subscription can only read three articles for free per month. This type of paywall is generally easier to circumvent.
How to read a news article for free
The technique to use will vary depending on the type of paywall used by the website administrator. Still, we’re confident that at least one of the cheats below should get you access to content that requires a subscription.
1. Stop loading the page
This is a fast and effective technique across multiple web pages. The trick is to prevent your browser from fully loading the webpage as soon as your browser displays the paid content text element.
Enter the URL of the web page in the address bar, press enter and click on the x icon (or press the Esc button) whenever you see text on the screen.
A major limitation is that shutting down the website may not load all content items, especially media files such as images, animations, videos, etc.
It should be mentioned that the success of this technique depends on the order in which the website loads the page elements. For example, if the website loads the paywall before the content, this trick has little to no chance of success.
2. Delete cookies from the page
Many websites store cookies on your browser to track your activities, including how much content you have accessed. Blog publishers can track the number of (free) articles you read using cookies stored on your browser. If you have reached the limit of free items allocated to non-subscribers, clearing the website cookies on your browser may reset the limit.
Go to the Privacy or Security section of your web browser and select the option that allows you to check cookies and site data for all websites. Next, find the website in your browser’s cookie management page and click remove all.
This applies to Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox. Check out this tutorial on clearing cache on any web browser for detailed steps.
This trick may not work on websites with hard paywalls – a good example is Medium. For soft paywalls, you will also need to manually delete cookies each time you reach the free item limit.
One last thing: this technique will not yield the desired result if the publisher uses other advanced tools (not just cookies) to track your activity. These technologies include IP adressbrowser fingerprint, WebRTC (real-time web communication), etc.
3. Try Incognito Hack Mode
As explained above, not all paywalls are built the same way. If the website uses a soft paywall, you may be able to play subscription-based content through incognito or private browsing. This will trick the website into believing you are a new visitor, giving you access to free content before loading the paywall.
This technique is much better than manually deleting cookies from the website. This is because most web browsers do not pass pre-existing cookies to the website you are visiting in incognito mode. Although the website temporarily drops new cookies on your device during private browsing sessions, they are deleted when you close the private browsing window.
hurry CTRL + Change + NOT (Where Order + Change + NOT on macOS) to open an incognito tab in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
For Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, the shortcut to launch an incognito window is CTRL + Change + P (Where Order + Change + P on macOS).
If you’re using Safari, tap Order + Change + NOT to open an incognito window and visit the paid webpage.
4. Use Archive Websites as a Backdoor
There are Internet archiving tools that keep copies of web pages and social media posts for reference. You can use these tools to access paid content and read news articles for free by subscription—Archive.is, Archive.todayand Archive.ph are reliable options.
Visit the archive website in your browser, enter the URL of the web page in the designated dialog box and select to safeguard.
The above tools have a “Screenshot” tool that converts the web page to a PNG image. Click it Screenshot option at the top of the results page to convert the page to an image file.
5. Use Paywall Removal Extensions
There are third-party browser extensions that help you read newspaper articles by subscription for free. We tried a few of these extensions and found that most of them didn’t work. Those that do aren’t hosted on the Chrome Webstore, so you’ll have to source them from third-party platforms.
We did the heavy lifting and found this”Bypass paywalls” extension for Chrome and Firefox to be effective. This extension allows you to read articles by subscription on hundreds of publications such as The New York Times, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, etc. Moreover, it is free, but you will have to manually load the extension on your browser. .
- The extension is hosted on GitHubso head over to the GitHub page and download the extension ZIP file.
- Extract the file to any location on your PC.
- Launch Chrome and paste chrome://extensions in the address bar and press Enter.
- Activate developer mode.
- Click on Unpacked load.
- Navigate to the folder you extracted to 2nd stepselect the extension folder, then click the Select Folder button.
- In the “Supported sites” tab, check Select all/none option to select all preloaded websites.
If a post is not in the list of preloaded websites, navigate to the “Custom Sites” tab and manually enter the site URL.
You can add as many websites as you want, one site/URL per line. Note that you cannot use the “Custom Sites” feature on Mozilla Firefox.
- Scroll down the window and select to safeguard.
Visit the website or reload the webpage and you should no longer encounter a paywall.
Pay for quality content and journalism
Again, the tutorial is purely informational. We are strong advocates of payment for quality content. Contact the website administrator if you are having trouble paying for locked content. Use these tricks only if efforts to make payments or contact the site administrator are unsuccessful.
Note that the techniques and tools mentioned above were working perfectly at the time of publication of this article. Some will not work on certain websites depending on the type of paywall used by the publisher. That said, we cannot guarantee that these tools will forever grant you a free pass to play subscription-based content. Outline.com, for example, was a useful tool for circumventing paywalls. Now, it does not work anymore for articles from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.