6 Ways To Get Past A Paywall For Free (Easy Guide)

A paywall is a pretty simple concept to understand. It is basically installed on journalism or knowledge-based websites to prevent any but the paid users from accessing the premium content.

Now, as much as we would endorse you to pay for the subscription service of the respective site since a major chunk of their revenue comes from these sources, however sometimes simply due to the lack of time or lack of funds it is not possible to do so.

In this particular scenario, there are a lot of simple yet efficient ways to get past a paywall in order to access the much-needed premium content.

Before we move on to explaining the ways in which one can bypass a paywall it is imperative to understand that there are two types of paywalls i.e a soft and a hard paywall. A soft paywall lets the user look at a little bit of content before asking for a subscription, however, a hard paywall asks for an upfront fee to get the required content.

A soft paywall will most likely be bypassed, however the same cannot be said for a hard paywall. The different methods to bypass a paywall are as mentioned below.

Using Browser Extensions

How to get past paywall UNpaywall

The first and the easiest method to get past a paywall is by using extensions on your respective browsers. Effective extensions like ‘Reader Mode’ and ‘Unpaywall’ let you bypass the soft paywall installed on the respective sites in order to cough up subscription money.

Reader mode not only removes the paywall but also removes any and all cluttered content on the site such as ads or any other buttons for the reader to go through to the article in a simplified and not distracting way.

Reader mode also has further features such as a full-screen mode, Auto-Run Ability, Text to Speech and also dyslexia fonts. Unpaywall is specifically used for bypassing the paywall on scholarly articles sites.

What unpaywall does is that with a press of a button on its extension it scours through the internet for the pdf of the scholarly article required by the user on various universities or government sites.

The best part about Unpaywall is that it is completely legal and ethical since the extension only searches for legal and author posted manuscripts. 

Copy Paste the Headline in a Search Engine

how to get past washington post paywall

If it is difficult to get past the site’s paywall, what one can do is copy and paste the headline of the paid article in Google. Doing this it is almost certain that you’ll find the article on a different site that may provide free content.

Searching for the headline on a search engine makes you find the same content but on a different news website, however, two points worth noting, in this case, is that the content may be different since it is on another site and this method may not prove efficient for scholarly articles.

Modifying Browser Settings

how to get past paywall to ready articles

If a site only lets you read limited articles for free and then persistently asks you for a subscription fee, there are one of two things you can easily do.

Firstly once your limit for reading articles has been exceeded you can access your browser’s setting and delete the cookies of the respective and voila the reading limit would yet again be reset and you can go back and read articles for free without any hassles.

Secondly, you can access the site on an incognito mode every time you want to read something since as soon as you close the incognito mode it gets rid of any and all history and cookies.

You can once again go back, open a window in the incognito mode without the site ever knowing that you have exceeded the free reading limit.  

Using an Annotation Service

One can use something known as an annotation service. An annotation service site such as outline.com can be used for bypassing paywalls. These annotation service sites not only lets you get past the paywalls but also would let you remove the annoying clutter on the target site, add notes and highlights for your reference.

The method of using Outline.com is simple. You just have to copy the link of the paywalled article and paste it into the Outline site and press on create outline. After that, you’ll be redirected to a new site without any sort of clutter and the paywall also will be gone.

There is only one loophole of this particular solution i.e several sites have blocked outline from accessing their sites. In order to get past this, one can avail of the services of a URL shortener in order to circumvent through to the block.

Outline is primarily to remove the clutter on a site and prevent the reader from avoiding any distractions however just because of the way it operates a lot of users avail its benefits to get past a Paywall. 

Using Archive Sites

Another way in which you can access paywalled content is by the method of using archive sites. Sites such as Wayback Machine or Archive provide the users with the archive of the paywalled site.

You just have to copy the link of the paywalled site and paste it in these archive sites and it will search and if found provide you with the paid content. An archive site is basically the previously updated content on the site. 

Disabling JavaScript

A lot of sites rely on JavaScript to display their paywalls and disabling it may sometimes seem to make it go away, however, disabling JavaScript may cause a lot of issues on the site and not display the content on the site properly. Here’s how you can disable Javascript in Chrome.

  • Paste chrome://settings/content/javascript in the Address bar and select “Don’t allow sites to use Javascript”.

disable javascript to bypass paywall

  • Make sure to enable JavaScript later as most websites like YouTube requires JavaScript to function properly.

If the option to avail a trial to go through to the premium content is available the user can avail that as well in order to go through the paywall, at least on a temporary basis.  

As addressed in this particular article, there are several ways in which one can access paywalled content. However, it completely depends on the requirements by the respective user and the paywall on the site which is trying to be bypassed to determine the feasibility of a particular solution or a way to get past a paywall.      

Dhruv Thakker is an aspiring lawyer. He is a sports enthusiast and likes watching F1, Football and Reading in his free time.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here