Hacking Paywalls: You Only Thought You Needed To Subscribe

Note: This tutorial is for Chromium browsers, but the developer tools on other browsers are similar. Leave a question if you need help.

Just a brief introduction to this tutorial is needed. Web pages are text files that contain text and HTML. When you go to a website your browser downloads the HTML text file and you now have a copy of the page on your computer. The file also downloads copies of images, videos, and programming that are referenced inside the HTML. Each item on the page is in a box, which may be contained in other boxes and which may have boxes inside it as well. These items are called elements. With the developer tools in each browser you can edit your copy of the page to remove or change elements. If you refresh the page, it will return to the version you downloaded.

This tutorial shows you how to access content that is protected by these boxes, which cover it and allow access only after a paying customer logs in. This is called a paywall. This workaround will not work if accessing the content requires logging in and receiving an updated page with the content, i.e. the initial page downloaded does not contain content under the boxes.

A. In Chrome, go to the site you want to see protected content on. Click the three-dot menu at top right of your browser. Go to More tools and then Developer tools. The developer tools will open at right-top.

B. Click the cursor/box icon at top left of the toolbox. Now you can select items on the webpage to edit or remove them.

C. Click on the box covering the content and you will see the HTML behind the content in the dev tools box.

D. In the code box right-click the page element to remove and click ‚ÄúDelete element.” You may have to click around on the page to see which items are on top of the content. Just delete each one until you see the content. If you mess up, refresh the page. You will then start over.

E.

1. Once the page items over the content are deleted, you may need to make changes to the code in order for the content to scroll. Here I select the content box.

2. I click until I get the correct box with the content.

3. Now you will see the styles rules that pertain to the item selected in (2) above.

F.

2. Make sure the correct content box is still selected.
3. Then I deselected two style lines, here the position:fixed and overflow: hidden.
4. Now you can scroll the page as well.

NOTE: If you can’t figure out if a certain site is hackable and want to know, ask below.

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