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Ads. We all love them right? Well, you should as they keep the web free, but aside from that, they can really tarnish the online reading experience. They break up the webpage, distract from the article, and you can accidentally click on one while scrolling.

The solution? Not Adblock – remember: ads allow the websites you love to be free and continue to share content. Instead, look at another option: an extension or bookmarklet that cleans up the page, displaying only the article’s text and images.

Readability

1 Readability Extension Menu

Readability is a veteran in the space of making the web easier to read. You can easily transform a webpage from this:

2 Before Tools

…to this:

Ads by Google

3 Readability - Article

If you want to edit the appearance, just click on the “Aa” icon on the left sidebar to make it light or dark, chose a different font, and adjust the font size and article width.

4 Readability - visual

Readability also pulls in all images and videos from the article, so you know you aren’t missing out on anything.

5 Readability - video

Along with being able to read easily, Readability also allows you to send articles to your Kindle How To Save Web Articles To Read Later On Your Non-Tablet Kindle How To Save Web Articles To Read Later On Your Non-Tablet Kindle We’ve all been there — you’re surfing the Internet and find a great article that you’d like to read. But there’s so much to do and you know you shouldn’t take the time to read... Read More and add to a “Read Later” list, as seen below.

6 Readability - Reading List

Evernote Clearly

7 Evernote Clearly Features

Evernote Clearly removes the clutter for reading and printing Evernote Clearly Removes Clutter From Webpages For Reading, Clipping Or Printing Evernote Clearly Removes Clutter From Webpages For Reading, Clipping Or Printing Remove everything from any webpage - the header, the sidebar, the advertisements - except for what you want to read. Then, if you like, send the article directly to Evernote or print it, clutter free.... Read More , while still keeping images and videos (like Readability) in the content. And it’s especially useful if you’re also an Evernote user, as it can clip the articles to Evernote and even highlight them, which comes in handy if you want to continue to read the article later 9 Tools To Save What You Read On The Web For Later 9 Tools To Save What You Read On The Web For Later Have you ever gone back searching the Internet for something you read and just couldn’t find it? I think we all have – it’s quite frustrating. The problem comes when we don’t take the time... Read More .

8 Clearly - Article

You have the option of several different themes, in addition to creating your own just how you like it. And don’t forget to explore the many options to make Clearly work the best way for you.

9 Clearly - Custom Theme

MagicScroll

10 MagicScroll - Article

Often when you’re reading an article, especially a long-form article, it can be easy to get stuck in a lull, lose focus and even get distracted. MagicScroll solves this problem MagicScroll Web Reader: Revolutionize How You Scroll And Read The Web MagicScroll Web Reader: Revolutionize How You Scroll And Read The Web When was the last time you read a whole article? Not two or three paragraphs and then clicked on to the next one, but the whole thing. What about an article that was more than... Read More by scrolling through the article at a comfortable pace (which you can adjust). There are a few settings for font size and color scheme.

11 MagicScroll - Change Settings

MagicScroll works great for displaying images, but doesn’t handle videos at this time, and probably won’t as they go against the nature of how MagicScroll is meant to work (though that is just my personal take on it).

iReader

12 iReader icon

iReader, though not the most feature-rich, should still definitely be mentioned. The extension icon hides out at the end of the address bar and quickly loads with a single click.

13 iReader - Article

The original web page stays in the background, out of focus. You can zoom in and out, print webpages without the clutter Top Tips & Tools to Help With Printing Webpages Top Tips & Tools to Help With Printing Webpages No matter how hard you try to go paperless, sometimes you just need to print that webpage. It might be for directions, an article for class, a handout for a meeting at work, etc. As... Read More , email and share to Twitter and Facebook, and disable images if you would rather just focus on the text.

14 iReader - Options

The “gear icon” takes you to the options, which allow you to adjust the background opacity, adjust the keyboard shortcut to launch iReader, and change the article font, width and margin. You can also toggle “Justify Text”.

Bookmarklets

Extensions are great, but as Erez pointed out a couple years back, many are only available for a specific browser and in addition can weigh down your browser speed Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Read More and why have so many extensions when you can get the same functionality and more versatility in a bookmarklet? Read Erez’s article to learn more about that. The bookmarklets below are ones I have personal experience with, however, there is an entire Bookmarklet database at Marklets.com.

Readability

15 Readability Bookmarklets

The Readability bookmarklet has the same functionality as the extension. To get it, simply drag one (or all) of the three bookmarklets to your bookmarks bar. You can drag them straight into a folder, or leave them standalone on the bar – again, they work just like a bookmark.

Notforest

16 Notforest

Notforest is a very simplified text-only reader. It’s very responsive to browser-width adjustments and has several theme options to choose from in the top right corner.

MagicScroll

17.1 MagicScroll Bookmarklet

The MagicScroll bookmarklet operates just like its extension counterpart. There are a few ways to get it – follow the link and scroll to the end of the post where you see the link “Read With MagicScroll”. As the directions say, just drag that link to your bookmarks bar. Or if you already have the extension installed, you’ll see a bookmarklet link in the settings as well. After making the preferred visual adjustments, re-add the link to the bookmarks bar to keep the settings.

17.2 MagicScroll - Bookmarklet Settings

Readable

18 Readable - Article

Remember Evernote Clearly? Well, before Clearly, came Readable. Evernote then brought on the maker of Readable to create Clearly, but the Readable website is still live and continues to work! When it comes to adjusting the display, Readable has the most customization out of all the tools listed here (including the extensions). Change the font, headers, mono-space, text size, and of course the color, to mention a few. It even has some premade themes based on the preferred style and color.

19 Readable Settings

Confused by all of this? There is an “Explain Options” link to translate some of the terminology, such as “Mono-space” – “The font applied to Computer Code elements.”

20 Readable - explain options

TIP: When you arrive to the website, scroll down and click the green “Show Setup” button in the bottom right corner.

21 Readable - Show Setup

Which Reader Do You Use?

Now that you have the options, what do you prefer best? The slimmed-down, text-only approach? The ability to save and read simultaneously? Or what about MagicScroll, which stands alone in its own category? Regardless of which option you prefer, all these tools will help you stay focused through reading an entire article instead of becoming distracted by the clutter of the web.

  1. Anonymous
    December 7, 2014 at 7:08 am

    http://www.printfriendly.com is great to "print" only the main part of the page, no ads, menus, etc.
    "Print" in fact can be direct print, save to pdf, send by email.
    Remove all images in one click
    Remove any part by clicking on it, with undo!

    Really amazing bookmarklet!
    Can't live without this one and it saves ink and paper!

    And to avoid having to click on the page number 1, 2, 3 and so on,
    http://www.printwhatyoulike.com/pagezipper
    will automatically add the next pages when you reach the bottom of the current one.

  2. Sam
    December 4, 2014 at 11:31 am

    A slight tangent I know, but certainly worth mentioning :-) I used to be under the impression that only 'dodgy' sites would serve potentially malicious ads, but reading more about it lately on tech sites, it seems some really high-profile sites have been affected by it (we're talking eBay-size, and I think eBay was one of them) so it's really hard to be sure.

    From what I understand, the fault doesn't lie with the site serving the ads (such as eBay) but rather with the ad delivery network and the automated nature of those networks (little to no human moderation / validation), placing responsibility for fixing this in the hands of the ad delivery networks (primarily Google).

  3. Sam
    December 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I use adblockers purely because of malvertising (the ads themselves didn't even really bother me that much). I advise everyone else to do the same until Google etc can deliver a solution to the problem. I refuse to support sites via ad impressions if it means risking malware infection.

    • Aaron Couch
      December 4, 2014 at 4:58 am

      Sam,

      I agree with you on many levels. The amount of malicious ads out there make me cringe (to put it lightly). The MakeUseOf staff tries to stay ahead of any potentially troublesome ads on our own website too. It really is time for Google to get a solution for these types of ads.

      I use Adblock as well for any initial impression of a website, then once I trust it, I disable the blocking for that website.

      But anyway, this isn't an article about blocking ads, but rather cleaning up a webpage for easier reading :-)

  4. willc
    December 3, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    The article suggests that AdBlock is a bad way to clean up a page, but it doesn't mention why the other solutions listed are any better.

    Is the idea that you have to look at the page as-is, with ads, before you clean it up for better reading?

    • Aaron Couch
      December 4, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Will,

      I suppose that it's because it's not the "only way" you're going to be viewing the webpage. These tools are generally going to be used while reading an entire article, versus scrolling through a website.

      Ads provide an income to websites that supply free content. Without them, websites like MakeUseOf and many others wouldn't survive -- we'd have to go towards a subscription-based model, which significantly narrows the readership.

      So the idea isn't to remove ads all together, but rather to clean up a webpage for easier reading "long-term" reading.

      Hope this helps!

    • Dann Albright
      December 4, 2014 at 7:35 am

      I think the idea is less that this is a better solution because of how things are displayed, and more because it lets you read uncluttered pages without blocking ads, which are what keep most free sites alive. Using ad blockers reduces ad revenue to those sites and makes it harder for them to keep providing free content. Using an extension like this is (at least closer to) the best of both worlds.

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