5 Ways To Get Around The New York Times Paywall

Tim Brookes 30-03-2011

Did you know that the New York Times spent an incredible $40 million on their recent paywall solution? Did you also know that it can be circumvented with all but a few clicks? There are in fact a surprising number of methods that currently allow you to browse the NY Times for free, despite the small fortune involved in protecting this content. As newspapers take slow, unsure steps in a bid to generate revenue online, clearly there are still lessons to be learned.


If you’re interested in how the Internet has rendered $40 million worth of effort redundant, then read on.

A Quick Word Before We Begin

This article is designed to demonstrate just how easy it is to get around protection like this, and is certainly not meant to deprive the New York Times or its journalists of money. We here at MakeUseOf are not the authors of any such techniques.

We do however feel this is within our readers interests, hence this article. If you do feel particularly strongly about this issue then be sure to have your say in the comments, at the bottom of this article.

Clearing Cookies

Currently the paywall does not use IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to track visits. The site also allows you 20 free articles per month, and these are tracked using cookies. If you were to browse 20 articles using Chrome, you’d then be free to browse another 20 in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and so on as the cookies are browser-unique.

new york times paywall


So, by this logic (you probably don’t want to go swapping browsers just to read the news) you can simply clear your cookies and continue browsing. The only problem with clearing all your cookies is that other sites you regularly visit and rely on may forget who you are.

Using JavaScript, Digital Inspiration created a bookmarklet to clear the NY Times cookies alone. Drag the Remove NYT Cookies link into your bookmarks bar and click it every 20 articles or so to reset the counter to zero.

Note: Disabling cookies in your browser altogether won’t work, as the site requires cookies to function.

Removing The Overlay

Once you’ve hit article number 20, any subsequent articles you attempt to access will present you with an overlay, which will stop you being able to scroll the page and view the content beneath the “buy a subscription” box.


nyt paywall

Dave Hayes of has come up with a bookmarklet that, when clicked, removes that pesky overlay and restores your ability to scroll. Drag the NYTClean bookmarklet onto your bookmarks bar, and every time you hit the paywall, click it. You’ll see the overlay disappear and you’ll be free to read the article again.

The Google Approach

If you really want access to an article behind a paywall, you can (for a few articles) use Google. Searching for the full article title or URL in Google should bring up the article you’re looking for as the top search result.

nyt paywall


As many websites consider the “first click free”, you should be able to view the article as you are coming from a search engine result. To read your next article, repeat the process and click through from your search results. You should get 5 free articles a day using this method.

This technique has been known to work on other paywalls, including the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.

The Social Backdoor

As the newspaper is keen on building up its social networking grunt, for the time being articles that are accessed via Facebook or Twitter are free to read. You don’t necessarily have to follow every story as you can use this page to find Twitter feeds that are relevant to your interests.

nyt paywall


It’s worth mentioning that the paper has stipulated if this method of accessing content is abused then this perk will be withdrawn. How soon this will happen remains to be seen – there’s not much point following the paper on Twitter if you can’t click the articles, is there?

You can also follow @freeUnnamedNews for NY Times articles as they’re published.

Browser Extensions

Firefox users can install Greasemonkey Greasemonkey Makes Firefox Unbeatable Read More (and Safari users Greasekit) to run user scripts (like this one at that claim to get around the paywall. Just be careful when installing scripts from sources like this, and disable them when you’re not browsing the NY Times.

new york times paywall

There was a Chrome extension that did this with 2 lines of CSS 11 Useful Tools to Check, Clean, and Optimize CSS Files Want to improve your CSS code? These CSS checkers and optimizers will help improve CSS code, syntax, and minify your web pages. Read More , but Google took it down and the NY Times modified a class or two.


The decision to put online content behind a paywall comes with plenty of issues Read "The Daily" For Free Online Without An iPad [News] Read More . By hiding content altogether search engine optimization suffers. On the other hand leaving content in an easily accessible online location is bound to result in a similar debacle.

These five techniques probably won’t last for long, as the newspaper is bound to try and protect its content in other ways. This article hopefully provides some insight into the problems faced by traditional print news outlets and the difficulty in protecting content destined for both keen readers and search engine traffic.

What do you think of the NY Times paywall? Have you browsed the site via one of the methods above? Any other techniques? Give us your ethical, technical and financial reports in the comments below.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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  1. dani
    August 1, 2017 at 5:03 am

  2. deh
    September 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I subscribe to NYT because I don't mind paying for quality. I read many article every month, even every day.

  3. Guest
    May 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    shorter version of the above bookmarklet that also reloads the page you're on to clear the paywall overlay.  Will break if they change the cookie name though.

    javascript:document.cookie="nyt-m=ASDF; path=/;";window.location=window.location.href.split("&gwh")[0];return null;

    • Tina
      May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Thank you for sharing!

  4. JKPhilly
    April 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Are you kidding? I know almost nothing about computers, and I figured out that if you go to the URL of the article you want to read (if the paywall popup is blocking it), and erase everything at the end after "html" (the next character has always been a question mark), you get that article with no trouble.

  5. Jeff
    April 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    If the paywall uses cookies, can't you just get around it by using private (or InPrivate or Incognito) for your NYTimes browsing? I think private browsing deletes all cookies you received during the private session.

  6. zyzzyva57
    April 2, 2011 at 11:59 am

    If you have someone in a college, often its library buys subscriptions; ergo, get the password and find what you want
    The only downside is these academic websites are NOT Google-like friendly
    For example, in Ga, I use Galileo to read the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American, but Galileo so sux to use

  7. Tina
    March 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Amazing how easy it is to get around the paywall. But as someone else said, why bother?

    I think the NYTimes is missing something essential. It's no longer just a trend for things to go free legally, it's a major development. In the age of information overdose, people won't pay for more data to consume. However, they might be more than willing to pay for convenience or more in-depth information or something else that is special. For example I'm sure people are still willing to pay for an eReader subscription.

    What I want to see in the future is an ePaper, i.e. an eReader on digital paper that behaves almost like normal paper, only that it would be a lot more resilient and durable. The ePaper would recharge in artificial or daylight.

    Subscriptions would update automatically 'over the air' wherever you are. It would feel much like a real newspaper or magazine, with cover and everything, but all on a single page. Single stories could be saved and with a subscription upgrade you could even access entire archives. On top of that, the ePaper could play videos and sound. That would be brilliant and I would happily pay for a subscription! Newspapers could even bundle their subscriptions with the ePaper as I'm sure everyone would love to get one.

    Actually, much of this is already possible with current eReaders or the iPad. Minus the convenience of a paper-like feel, automatic 'over the air' updates, and automatic recharging in light. There is much to be anticipated.

    • Jeff
      April 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      I'd rather see micropayments. That's where you pay a penny - or less - for each article you want to read. If I have to subscribe, then I have to pay for a whole subscription to a publication which may publish one article I find interesting each year.

  8. Andy
    March 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Overlays are just silly. You can ignore them just by disabling the page CSS (I use User mode in Opera). If you do not know, or the browser won't let you, the Readability bookmark can do it for you.

    Plus, sorry to say, but if NYT allows me to use my bandwidth to download the text underneath the overlay then I feel that I own that content. It's not like anyone needs to break their servers.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      That's a fair point!

    • Nightyjoe2c4j
      April 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      Under US copyright laws, the NYT owns their content.

  9. Shawn
    March 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    biased rag not worth the effort

  10. Robinhoover12
    March 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    don't forget about noscript for firefox. block scripts coming from and you will be neither seen nor counted as it blocks a script called mtr.js.

  11. jello
    March 31, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Very interesting this paywall thing. I am overwhelmed everyday on the internet with information, I can't imagine paying for more, there is only 24 hours in a day, but still interesting what these companies are compelled to do to stay employed. It sounds like a fight for survival.

  12. Mrclose
    March 31, 2011 at 4:58 am

    "5 Ways To Get Around The New York Times Paywall" .. Why Bother!?

  13. Mr_Dobalina
    March 31, 2011 at 4:40 am

    I have created a greasemonkey script that will work in Chrome or Firefox that removes the paywall screen, while looking at you disapprovingly:

  14. Anonymous
    March 31, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I have created a greasemonkey script that will work in Chrome or Firefox that removes the paywall screen, while looking at you disapprovingly:

    • Aibek
      March 31, 2011 at 6:44 am

      thanks for share

  15. thecolor
    March 31, 2011 at 2:21 am

    meh, if I want to read about something enough and I'm getting no where with one source then I'll move on to another, after all the net is redundant if not everywhere and in multiple places or did I already say that in another post somewhere else. :)