12 ways to get over a paywall

Skip a paywall on WSJ, Business Inside, NYT, etc. It is meant to be something that only a paying customer can do. There is a paywall for this specific purpose: preventing anyone except paying users from accessing specific content.

However, depending on how the paywall works, you might get lucky using a paywall unlocker to see what’s behind it. Other times, a simple browser trick may be enough to remove the paywall and read the article, watch the video, etc.

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There are two types of paywalls, and you will probably be lucky if you only unlock the “soft” type. A software paywall is one that allows you to view some of the content before blocking the rest, while a hard paywall requires upfront payment with no content preview or limited-time access.

Note: We don’t recommend using paywall blockers because they rob a business of a potentially huge source of revenue. Like ad blockers, you should use them wisely and consider the impact they could have on your favorite sites.

12 Paywall Unblockers

There are a number of ways you can try to bypass a paywall. Some may not work at all, but surely there are one or two options that should work for the site you are trying to access.

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Skip the Firefox Paywalls extension

use this Firefox extension to bypass the paywall. It works on Bloomberg, Denver Post, The Baltimore Sun, Inc.com, The Herald, and many other sites. Just use the download link at the top of this page to get the file, then drag it into a Firefox window to install it.

From there, all you have to do is go to the site to see if the extension has removed the paywall. You can access the settings to disable blocking (allow paywall) on any of the supported sites.

Look elsewhere for the article

Copy the title of the article and paste it into a search engine to find a duplicate. This is one of the easiest ways to bypass a paywall because many times a popular article from a subscription-based news organization is copied and published elsewhere for free.

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An important thing to remember when doing a search like this where there are multiple spaces, is to put the words in quotes as you see above. This will limit your search results, but will ensure that what you find is relevant to the item you are looking for.

Try the Chrome Unpaywall extension

Unpaywall is a Chrome extension that unlocks paywalls in academic articles. It searches the Internet for free PDF versions of the article and then provides you with a link to find the free version.

Reset your browser cookies

Delete your browser cookies or use incognito mode to avoid the payment wall. If the website allows you to view some articles and then blocks access with a paywall, they do so by storing cookies that track the number of pages you have viewed.

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Delete cookies or open the website in incognito mode to prevent cookies will appear on the website as if you were a new visitor, which will reset the number of free items you can open.

Find out where your browser’s cookies are stored to delete them. Or learn to use incognito mode in Chrome or Opera, Edge or Internet Explorer, or in Firefox.

Use Outline.com

Enter the URL of the page in Submit. The scheme is designed to annotate web pages and read content with few distractions, but because of how it works, it is generally useful for breaking paywalls.

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Manually delete paywall

Remove the paywall pop-up, if possible. Some websites use a super basic paywall system where the only thing preventing you from seeing the page is a pop-up window. While there is no easily accessible exit button, you can view the page source and manually delete it to reveal the content behind it.

For example, in Chrome, right-click the paywall message and select To inspect. Use the mouse pointer option at the top left of the Chrome tool to find the source code for the paywall. When you find it, right-click on the data and choose Remove item. You may need to remove several things until you find the right combination to get rid of the entire paywall.

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A similar option that might work if the paywall uses JavaScript is to block the script with a tool like JavaScript Quick Switch for Chrome. If you’re not using Chrome or these methods aren’t working, try a web proxy that can kill scripts, like HMA.

Stop loading the entire page

Quickly pause the page before the paywall opens. If you have no luck removing it or blocking JavaScript, you may be able to prevent the page from fully loading to prevent the paywall pop-up from showing.

However, you have to be quick; If the page loads too fast or if the paywall starts before the article, it will not work. To test this, just refresh the page and click the button Esc
several times right after uploading the content.

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Explore archive sites

Archive sites like Machine Return and Archive.is save web pages for archival purposes. You can take advantage of these methods to find items that you might not otherwise be able to access due to a paywall being blocked.

Use a “Read Later” tool

Submit the article to a bookmark or additional reading service like Poached to avoid the article limit. This only works if you have free access to the site the first few times you visit it.

Similar to the previous cookie method, this one does not store the visit as its own because the content of the page is sent elsewhere and is not loaded on your computer.

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Convert page to PDF

There are many page to PDF converters, for example Webpagetopdf.com. Simply put the URL of the paywall page in the text box, convert it, and then upload the PDF for an offline and always accessible copy of the article.

Find connection details

If you are dealing with a difficult paywall that requires a user account, try a shared login service. Websites like BugMeNot may have login information that you can use to log into the website and avoid the paywall by pretending to be a real user.

Sign up for a free trial

Another method of bypassing the paywall is to pay… of some kind. If there is an option to request a trial so you can bypass the paywall, use it and then cancel the trial before you are charged. It’s certainly a no-brainer, but the reason we’re talking about it is because it’s still free and you’ll definitely get past the lockdown.

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However, if you do, be sure to cancel the trial or you will have to pay. You can use a virtual payment service like Private Life to ensure that the card you are using to pay only covers the trial period and does not charge you for the service.