A paywall is a method of restricting access to content via a purchase or paid subscription. Beginning in the mid-2010s, newspapers started implementing paywalls on their websites as a way to increase revenue after years of decline in paid print readership and advertising revenue, partly due to the use of ad blockers. In academics, research papers are often subject to a paywall and are available via academic libraries that subscribe.
Paywalls have also been used as a way of increasing the number of print subscribers; for example, some newspapers offer access to online content plus delivery of a Sunday print edition at a lower price than online access alone. Newspaper websites use this tactic because it increases both their online revenue and their print circulation (which in turn provides more ad revenue).
It’s not economically feasible for a rational reader to pay for dozens of news sites on a monthly or yearly subscription. Most newspapers will allow you to access some articles for free before demanding for a subscription. Others have the option for free trials that you can use if you only need access to those sites for a brief period of time, but ensure you cancel your subscription before your trial expires.
But if you want to access these for a long time, we have detailed methods that will allow you to get around paywalls, pop-ups, and adwalls, that news sites use to prevent you from reading articles without first subscribing. These techniques will help you get around paywalls for virtually all online newspapers, without requiring username and password logins credentials or illegal hacking.
1. Open article in a private/incognito browser
Using the private/incognito browser to read an article, is one to the simplest methods of accessing premium news sites.
- Visit an article on the site you want to bypass the paywall for and copy the article title
- Open up a new incognito window (Select ‘New Incognito Window’ on Chrome) or Private window (Select ‘New Private Window’ on Firefox/Safari), and paste the article title into the URL bar
2. Use Bypass Paywalls browser extension
a. Google Chrome
- Download this repo as a ZIP file from GitHub
- Unzip the file and you should have a folder named bypass-paywalls-chrome-master
- In Chrome go to the extensions page (chrome://extensions)
- Enable Developer Mode
- Drag the bypass-paywalls-chrome-master folder anywhere on the page to import it (do not delete the folder afterwards)
- Every time you open Chrome it may warn you about running extensions in developer mode, just click ‘Close’ to keep the extension enabled
- You will be logged out for any site you have checked
- This extension works best alongside the adblocker uBlock Origin
b. Mozilla Firefox
- Download the Firefox extension from GitHub
- Accept the Firefox permission popups that appear
- You can customize the browser extension. If you have other existing logins, make sure you deselect these news sites as this add-on will log you out of them
- The add-on runs automatically, and it basically obscures the origin of your traffic so that you will appear to be a user from another country/region, where they still do not have a fully hardened paywall
- The promotional ads you see are a good thing and mean that your visits/origin are being correctly obscured
- You may have to close a few popup windows by simply click ‘Close’ in the upper right-hand corner of the popup
3. Clear browser cookies
The free article limit can normally be bypassed by removing cookies for the site. Clear cookies from your browser or install the Cookie Remover extension for Google Chrome or for Mozilla Firefox.
4. Use 12ft Ladder to extract article text
12ft Ladder is a free service for reading and annotating news articles. It does a good job of removing ads and other digital clutter. You can simply enter the URL of an article in the search bar on 12ft Ladder homepage. Alternatively, you can insert “https://12ft.io/” before a news article’s URL and 12ft Ladder will auto extract the text from the article, giving you not only the article blocked by a paywall without additional ads.
5. Using Tor Browser
Tor Browser isolates each website you visit so third-party trackers and ads can’t follow you. Any cookies automatically clear when you’re done browsing. So will your browsing history. Tor Browser prevents someone watching your connection from knowing what websites you visit. It will make you anonymous on internet. People use it to bypass upper level of security.
- Download Tor Browser
- There’s a limit of 5 articles which you can read for free on many website. Whenever you hit that limit all you have to do is to hit ‘New Identity’ button in Tor Browser
7. Convert the Page to PDF
You can use an online tool like Webpage to PDF to convert the article to PDF, and then download the PDF to have yourself an offline, always-accessible copy of the article.
8. Stop the page from fully loading
Quickly pause the page before the paywall can open. You have to be quick though; if the page loads too quickly or the paywall launches before the article, this won’t work. To try this, just refresh the page and hit the ‘Esc’ key several times right after the content loads.
9. Use archive sites
Archive sites like Archive.is and Wayback Machine save web pages for archival purposes. You can take advantage of those methods to find articles that you can’t otherwise access because of a paywall block.
10. Delete the paywall manually
Some websites use a super basic paywall system where the only thing stopping you from viewing the page is a pop-up. While there isn’t an exit button easily accessible, you can view the page source and remove it manually to reveal the content behind it.
- Right-click the paywall message
- Select ‘Inspect’
- Find the source code of the paywall
- Right-click the data and choose ‘Delete element’
- You might have to delete several things until you find the right mixture to get rid of the entire paywall
the irony of posting an article about how to avoid paywalls while you effectively paywall your own content behind turning off adblockers or paying for access.
The way I like to bypass new sites’ paywalls is by simply viewing online articles in the terminal/command line, using a terminal/command line browser such as links or lynx.