5 min read

How to Bypass the Paywall and Read Full Posts and Articles

Make your online reading experience easier with these suggestions to bypass various globally used article restrictions. Learn about geo-fencing, paywalls and 'complimentary' articles.

I send roughly 200K newsletters to my collective readers *every* month.
When sending out newsletters to audiences in different parts of the globe, I sometimes forget that we all see and experience the internet differently. When I link to certain articles and posts, this problem surfaces. Some websites restrict access through paywalls or through geo-fencing (restrictions per country), and that is noticeable only when it affects you. Other sites offer a limited number of complimentary articles and when the limit is reached you will see the paywall.

What follows are suggestions – not advice – to make your reading experience easier. In the end, I highly recommend to pay for the resources that you love, as journalism and niche news curation come at a price.

In Your Browser

The helping hand sometimes comes through a third-party website.
User beware and please do think twice before submitting any valuable (login) information. (Just don't.)

🪜 12ft

I love the marketing of this solution:

Show me a 10ft paywall, I’ll show you a 12ft ladder.

It works similarly to the now dead Outline, yet with higher success rate and some tweaks that make it an easier to use solution.

12ft – Hop any paywall
Show me a 10ft paywall, I’ll show you a 12ft ladder.

The 12ft website

12ft – Hop any paywall
Hop the website paywalls on iOS

12ft for iOS

🗄️ Archive.Today

If you know the Wayback Machine, then you'll be familiar with the makers of this solution. With some well donation-funded means, it seems that as soon as new articles, posts or whatever kind of content is being put on the web, Archive.Today shoots a snapshot of it. Even when it is behind a paywall. Not fully sure how this holds up with copyright infringement, but just as the Wayback Machine shows the archives of those webpages long forgotten, Archive.Today does that with - well - today's fresh pages.

Recently, they added an Archive Page browser extension for Chrome (and Chromium-based browsers) so you do not have to copy/paste the URL of the article you're trying to read.

Archive Page
Archive webpage with archive.today

Archive.Today Extension

🌐 Browser Extensions

I use a browser extension that tackles the paywalls automatically (available for Chrome and Firefox) for the main walled websites, yet it asks for some extra steps to install (a barrier to average internet users).

As a lot of the basic paywalls are just a layer of javascript cloaking the original article, many have created browser extensions that will let you bypass the paywalls. With the reasoning behind it being a gray area (really a sensitive topic of discussion, one I'd rather not start), most app and extension stores will not host or support them. This means you will need to add these extensions in a different way, from a local upload.

Although not difficult, it requires a change in browser settings and I leave it to your own judgement whether you do this or not.

Changing your browser settings and activating Developer Mode allows for un-tested, un-validated and potentially un-secure browser extensions to be installed. Be cautious and double-check that what you install is legit.

If you're familiar and comfortable enough to work with solitions like these, I trust that you're savvy enough to find the solutions that satisfy your needs, so I will not dive too deep into this.

🧹 Clearing Cache & Cookies

Some sites give you a limited number of *complimentary* articles, before the paywall kicks in. In most cases this is triggered with cookies. Removing the cookies and clearing your cache is usually the quick and easy solution. Once you have done that you are being regarded as a *new* visitor and thus get your limited number of complimentary articles again.

Personally I have created a bookmark for the settings page where I can find my cookies and cache (screenshots are for my browser of choice, Brave), so I can quickly select and clear them.

  1. Go to your browser settings
  2. Find cookies & site data
  3. Search for the domain to which the limited articles apply
  4. Delete / clear per domain or select Remove All Shown
  5. Refresh the article page for the domain in question ( F5 or CTRL + F5 for Windows, CMD + R or CMD + SHIFT + R for Mac)
  6. Read on!
Tip: You can quickly create a bookmark on any page by hitting command + D on Mac or ctrl + D on Windows / Linux.


Some websites properly display full article from paywall guarded sites. Most articles from Bloomberg can be read on MSN for instance. Sometimes it is a simple search that will surface the same article on various (aggregating) sites.

Tip: add site:msn.com to your search for that specific article.

On your device

Incoggo (application for Mac, soon for Windows)

An app that gets quite some traction and sees continuous feature updates, is Incoggo. They start to become a do-it-all solution that breaks through paywalls, yet now also blocks ads and does some other stuff.

🏴‍☠️ Beyond borders: Using a VPN

Sometimes all it takes is being in another country...
There are plenty of websites that reserve their content for "locals" only. If you are familiar with VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) then you may know that this allows you to see that certain series that is only being broadcast in Japan, or that movie that is on in Canada only.

Finding one deserves a separate post, but there are many who have written about this topic. Personally I use Proton VPN, as part of the enterprise solution I use for email. I'll reference a page that gives you a solid overview of the best options, over at privacytools.io:

Best VPN for Privacy & Security in 2023 - Top 5 - Best VPN Services - privacytools.io
Best VPN: Looking for the best VPN for online privacy and security? Check out our top list of the most reliable and effective VPN services available.

Best VPN for Internet Privacy & Security

💸 Actually paying for journalism... !

And last but not least: just pay for your favorite publication. Whether it is curated content or well-researched and written professional opinion, there are people (with or without paid-for tech) doing the hard work for you. Saving you time, helping you shape your views, making sure you can make decisions.

Appreciate that effort and support it... because we're still a couple of steps aways from AI-powered replacement of the boots on the ground, the journalists, analysts, and researchers that do the actual work.

Happy reading!