How to Bypass Paywalls at Popular News Sites

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Here's how to quickly bypass paywalls at popular news and magazine websites.

If you've tried to read an article at sites like Washington Post, Medium, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, Wired, Vanity Fair or the Wall Street Journal, you've probably run into a paywall. A paywall restricts access to content by requiring a paid subscription, but there are a few ways around them.

Information is increasingly fragmented and many of us use a multitude of sites to access information. In this day and age, it's not economically feasible for most individuals to pay for several subscriptions to view sites you visit occasionally. If you visit a news or other site regularly at work or for personal use, it makes sense to pay for a subscription. It's reasonable for frequent readers to have a subscription. Some of the news sites have lost print readers and needing income to stay afloat.
If you want access to a site for a brief period of time, it's a good idea to take advantage of the many trial subscriptions that are offered. They are usually for 14 or 30 day periods and can be cancelled any time before the trial expires.

Some tips to bypass paywalls can change at any time, and what worked last week may not work today.

Use Add-ons and Extensions
If you use a web browser, this add-on can bypass paywalls on many sites. The bypass-paywalls add-on by iamadamdev is available for both Firefox and Chrome based browsers. Click on the link for the browser you want to use and follow the directions. The Firefox version is a straightforward download and install, the Chrome version has to be installed manually. The directions are clear and it's not difficult. The process is the same for other Chrome based browsers. The developer says it works best when paired with uBlock Origin.

Clear site history and cookies
This works on sites that ask you to pay after reading a specified amount of articles within a set time period. If you're using up the allotted articles on a site, it's probably a good idea to subscribe. I use a Firefox add-on to clear cookies  and storage for each tab so I can stay logged in to the sites I use often. The add-on is available at the Firefox add-on page - it's called Remove Cookies Button. It removes local storage, session cookies and session storage from the current tab with one click of the button on the address bar. Per site clearing can also be done through the address bar of most browsers, click on the lock icon next to the URL and use the options there.

View cached or archived web pages
If what you want to read on a site isn't current, you can use the Wayback Machine by the Internet Archive to view previous pages or use Google Search to view a cached page, though sites are now disabling the cache so that method will be less and less reliable.

Disable Java Script in your browser
You can disable Javascript using the developer tools in browsers by using the inspect element context menu to view and change the code on the page, or you can use an add-on or extension and do it with the click of a button. Using the browser developer tool to inspect context elements requires a little knowledge of HTML.
Chrome: Quick Javascript Switcher
Firefox: Disable JavaScript

Use an online reading and annotation site
Outline.com extracts the body of an article and displays it for reading and annotating. Enter the URL of the article you want to read. It's effective for most, but not all, paywalls.

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Comments

Depending on where you live, sometimes your local public library offers access to some of these paywalled publications, and lets library cardholders access these sites from their home computers. Check with your local library to see what services they offer in this area.

rhiannon:

In trying to use this app in firefox on the Washington Post website the following occurs:
I click on a story and immediately get a notification that covers about 1/3 of the screen saying I am using an ad blocker. I am using u-block origin. I turn off u-block on the site and still get same notification and can go no further. Any further actions I can so to remedy this? Thanks.

I ran into the ad lock notification, and after disabling uBlock Origin I could read the article.
You re-loaded (Ctrl + F5) the site after turning off Ublock and the overlay still appears?
An odd thing on my end right now - I closed Firefox and shut down the system. I turned my booted my desktop today and I'm on the site with uBlock re-enabled, have 4 different articles open and there are no ad block notifications. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The only thing that occurs to me might be an add-on conflict.

rhiannon:
You nailed it!
I started by disabling any add ons that might conflict one by one. No dice. I then re-enabled Ublock Origin and Bingo! Worked like a charm. Thanks.

That's great to hear! I'm glad you got it figured out. :)

I use Adblock Plus with Firefox and have it turned off for the Washington Post and that's been working OK lately.

I've been using the Bypass Paywalls addon for Firefox mostly successfully. Opening the article link in a Private Window used to work well, but some sites such as The Washington Post are cracking down on that.

Yes, incognito or Private windows worked for some time, but as you say, more and more sites are cracking down on that.
For some time you could access articles at the Washington Post and other sites using Google as a referrer - search for the article title, find the result at the site and you could read it by clicking the link and going to the site. That's being disabled more often as well. Using cached pages in Google Search was an option for a time, but I think most of the paywalled sites have disabled that.

Done, great tip rhiannon, looks like a work in progress, but better than nothing.

I'm glad you found it useful.
It is a work in progress, the paywalled sites change things regularly to make access more difficult so the dev has to keep up. Washington Post in particular is pretty aggressive in maintaining restrictions.
It's completely understandable, the print side of news is dying and revenue needs to come from somewhere. I have no problem paying for something I use regularly, but most of these I never visit and the few I do, I don't visit often. I'll drop my ad blocker while I'm at the site, but it's not economically feasible to pay for a yearly susbcription when I visit a site two or three times a year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have been attempting to download the bypass-paywalls add on, but as so often happens with Github, a connection is never established. I would hope that an alternative download site for what looks like a really nice add-on will be made available.

Hmmmm. I don't have any troubles accessing it from the USA via multiple browsers. Do you want to download one or both?

Hi rhiannon, thanks for your reply. I have been attempting to download the Firefox one and continue to receive a notice that there is a connection problem message. I will keep trying. thanks again for all you do for us.

You are more than kind! My thanks. And I just tossed a few pence in the donation fund as more thanks--I have found gizmo's freeware to be an essential site and will try and add more in the future.

Thank *you*.
I'm happy to do it, I know it can be frustrating not being able to connect somewhere you want to go. If you want the Chrome version too, give me a shout out and I'll put it up for download.

In Firefox, if the "Reader View" icon appears in the address bar, clicking on it bypasses the paywall without the need to open another tab, then copy and paste the URL. Also, I have set up a macro to run CCleaner, which saves a lot of time clearing cookies to bypass those paywall sites where the Reader View icon does not appear.

Good tip, I always check that first.
If you use Chrome, the latest release (75) has added Reader view but there are a few steps to access it.
Type: chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode section into the address bar and enable the Reader Mode option.
Restart the browser (required).
To use the reader mode, click the top right dropdown menu and select the “Distill page” option.