Navigating Paywalls: Tools and Tips to Access Articles for Free

In recent years, an increasing number of websites have adopted paywalls, requiring readers to subscribe and pay a monthly fee to access their content. While some sites employ a “metered” paywall that allows limited free access, others have a hard paywall, restricting all content behind a subscription. This trend is particularly prevalent among news websites as they seek sustainable revenue models beyond advertising. However, there are various legitimate ways to bypass these paywalls, which can be useful if you’re temporarily unable to subscribe or have simply forgotten your login details. Here are some effective methods to access paywalled articles for free, but remember, supporting journalism financially when you can is crucial.

1. Google the Headline

A straightforward method is to copy the headline of the paywalled article and paste it into Google. Many websites allow articles to be accessed for free by visitors coming from search engines. If the article is indexed, it should appear in the search results, and you can click on it to read it for free.

2. Facebook Redirect

Some sites provide free access to users arriving from Facebook. To exploit this, prepend to the article’s URL in your browser’s address bar. This will redirect you through Facebook, potentially bypassing the paywall.

3. Incognito Mode

Opening a paywalled article in an incognito window can often bypass metered paywalls that track your reading quota through cookies. This method won’t work for hard paywalls but can be handy if you’ve exceeded your free article limit on a particular site.

4. Disable JavaScript

Certain websites use JavaScript to enforce paywalls. By disabling JavaScript in your browser, you can sometimes access the content. This approach can break other functionalities on the page, so it’s advisable to use a secondary browser for this purpose. Instructions for disabling JavaScript vary across browsers but are generally accessible through the settings menu.

5. Reader Mode

Modern browsers like Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Chrome offer a “reader mode” that strips away unnecessary elements on a webpage. Activating this mode can sometimes bypass paywalls, providing a cleaner reading experience.

6. Use a VPN

Websites that limit free articles per month often track usage via IP addresses. Using a VPN to change your IP address can reset your quota. While this won’t work for hard paywalls, it’s effective for metered ones. Both free and paid VPN services are available for this purpose.

7. Bypass Paywalls Extension

For Chromium-based browsers and Firefox, the Bypass Paywalls extension from GitHub is a powerful tool. Installation involves downloading the extension and enabling developer mode in your browser. This extension provides access to numerous sites without triggering the paywall.

8. Other Browser Extensions

Several browser extensions, like Unpaywall for academic articles and Postlight Reader, can also help bypass paywalls. These tools not only grant access to content but also enhance readability by removing ads and other clutter.

9. Edit Webpage Elements

For those familiar with HTML and CSS, editing the webpage’s elements can reveal hidden content. By inspecting and modifying elements labelled as paywall, display, or subscribe, you can remove barriers to access. This method requires some technical know-how and may not work on all sites.

10. Use

The website offers a simple way to bypass paywalls by displaying cached versions of webpages. Simply paste the URL into the site’s search bar to view the content. However, its effectiveness varies, and it doesn’t work on all sites.

11. allows users to archive web pages, creating a static copy that can bypass paywalls. By pasting the URL into the site’s search bar, you can access archived content. This tool is particularly useful when other methods fail.

12. Spaywall

Similar to, Spaywall offers a way to bypass paywalls legally by redirecting to archived versions of articles. It may take longer to archive new pages, but it’s effective for accessing older content.

13. Mobile Shortcuts

For mobile users, specific browser extensions and shortcuts can bypass paywalls. On Android, the Kiwi browser supports the Bypass Paywalls Clean extension. For iPhone users, Apple’s Shortcuts app offers routines like AntiPaywall and Bypass Paywall, which can circumvent paywalls on various sites.

14. Library Access

Many public libraries provide free access to paid subscriptions of newspapers and magazines. By logging in through your library’s portal, you can read content without hitting a paywall. Check with your local library to see if this service is available.

15. Request a Gift Article

Subscribers to certain publications can “gift” articles to non-subscribers. If you know someone who subscribes to the publication you’re interested in, consider asking them to gift you the article.

16. Purchase Individual Articles with Blendle

If you’re willing to pay for individual articles but not a full subscription, the Blendle app offers a pay-per-article model. This service partners with various publishers to provide single articles at a nominal fee.

While these methods can help you bypass paywalls, it’s important to remember the value of supporting journalism. Many of these tools exploit loopholes that could be closed as publishers adjust their strategies. Ultimately, if you find consistent value in the content provided by a publication, consider subscribing to ensure its sustainability and support the journalists behind the work.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Founder | Head of PR At Nerd Bite, we are lucky to have Sam on our team. He is an expert in online PR, social media strategy, e-commerce, and news websites, with a wealth of knowledge that makes him a valuable asset. Sam's experience and skills have helped us deliver successful campaigns for clients and stay ahead of the competition. With his contributions, we are confident that we will continue to provide high-quality content and services to our readers and partners.

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