How to View Blurred Text on Websites

Unblur Website Featured Image

If you bump into a block of blurred text while browsing, there’s no need to turn your back in disappointment or impulsively pay for a subscription. You can unblur the text with one of the methods below and take the time to assess whether you really want to sign up for the content.

Why Do Websites Blur Content?

Websites blurring text is a common practice to keep their content exclusive to members and paying subscribers. Not all websites that do this require you to pay for a subscription to read the content they blur. Some just want you to drop your email address or sign up for a free membership or a free trial. Others also allow you to browse a limited amount of content before the paywall comes up.

How to Unblur Text on a Website

If you need a bit more time or a little more sample content to make up your mind before you commit to a sign-up or paid subscription, it’s handy if you know how to preview hidden text.

Keep in mind that the methods below aren’t guaranteed to work on all websites. Also, they should be used only to evaluate if a membership or subscription is necessary. We do not condone bypassing any paywall that supports journalism. If you don’t want to use your email address to create an account, we recommend using a disposable email address or a service like BugMeNot.

1. Use Google Translate as a Proxy to View Hidden Text

Google Translate is a viable tool for unblurring text on a web page. Use it to view the full and translated version of a web page with blurred content. Here’s how:

  1. Open the web page with the text you want to unblur.
  2. Copy the page URL.
Unblur Website Paywall
  1. Go to Google Translate and paste the URL in the left-hand box.
  2. Click on the URL that appears in the right-hand box. (If you’d prefer to read the content in a language other than English, pick a language from the choices listed above this box and then click on the refreshed URL.)
Unblur Website Google Translate

You should be directed to a new tab containing an unblurred version of the web page.

Unblur Website Google Translate Page

2. View a Snapshot on Internet Archive

Internet Archive‘s WayBack Machine is a free-for-all tool where anyone can save and look up versions of web pages. The tool also crawls the web and archives cached pages. Use it to look up saved versions of a paywalled article if any are available.

  1. Copy the URL of the page with the blurred content you want to view.
Unblur Website Paywall 2
  1. Go to Internet Archive and paste the URL into the WayBack Machine search bar to check if the page was archived.
Unblur Website Internet Archive
  1. Select the page version you want to view. For the latest content, pick the latest archived version based on date and time. Available archived versions are marked by blue circles on the calendar.
Unblur Website Internet Archive Wayback Machine

You should be directed to the archived version you selected, where you can see the blurred content.

Unblur Website Internet Archive Wayback Machine Archive

3. Open the Page From Google Search

Some websites offering premium content to subscribers allow non-paying visitors to view the full content of the link they clicked on from Google Search results to boost their traffic. However, if you use this method, you’re only allowed to view the content of the page URL you clicked, and when you go deeper into the website, you’ll meet a paywall. Here’s how bypass this restriction:

  1. Copy the title of the page containing the blurred text you want to view and paste it into Google Search. (Hover over the page’s tab and you’ll see the page title.) If you can’t highlight and copy the page title, type it manually.
Unblur Website Google Search

For more accurate search results, type the website name at the end or beginning of your query.

Unblur Website Google Search Query
  1. Click on the result with the same page URL as the page you want to unblur.
Unblur Website Google Search Results

The entire page should now be available for viewing.

Unblur Website Google Search Opened

4. View Blurred Content With Inspect Element

The Inspect or Inspect Element tool is available in all desktop web browsers. Just right-click on the page you want to inspect, and you should see either “Inspect” or “Inspect Element” in the right-click menu.

Unblur Website Inspect

Using the Inspect tool, you can view and edit a website’s source code, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and media files. Any change you make is visible in real time on the page you’re “inspecting.” This feature allows you to unblur text on some websites. Here’s how to use it:

  1. On the page you want to unblur, right-click anywhere and select “Inspect” or “Inspect Element.” The Inspect section should pop out on the right or at the bottom of your browser window.
Unblur Website Inspect Section
  1. Select the line of code that pertains to the hidden content. Ensure that you select the parent element i.e. the one encompassing all the little elements that make up the blocker. On the page we have chosen, we’re looking for a line that starts with “<aside class=”Paywall…
Unblur Website Inspect Paywall Code
  1. Once you find the correct line, right-click on it and click on “Delete element” in the context menu. This deletes the blocker element on the page.
Unblur Website Inspect Paywall Code Delete
  1. The next line of code you need to modify starts with “<body…” In that line, locate the style=”overflow: hidden;” code.
Unblur Website Inspect Paywall Code Edit
  1. Right-click on this snippet and select “Edit attribute.” Change the attribute value from “hidden” to “visible” and hit the Enter key.
Unblur Website Inspect Paywall Code Edit Attribute

This action works on the blurred content behind the blocker and makes it viewable.

Unblur Website Inspect Unblurred

A Few Things to Note

In some browsers, the Inspect tool may not be visible if you haven’t enabled the use of developer tools first. Look for a “Develop” menu or similar to check if these tools are active.

Also, the names for the blocker and blurred content elements on the page differ from website to website. The style attribute may not always show up as “overflow.” It may appear as “visibility: hidden,” “filter:blur,” or something else. You’ll need a bit of trial and error to locate the relevant bits of code you need to modify or delete. If you mess up, refresh the page to start over.

5. Switch to Reader Mode

Most modern browses offer a “reader” mode that removes web page clutter like ads and other distractions. It’s called Reader Mode in Chrome and Reader View in Firefox and Safari. This mode allows you to view blurred or paywalled content on some websites. It’s an optional feature in certain browsers, so you’ll need to enable it before you can use it to unblur text.

To enable Reader Mode on Google Chrome:

  1. Open a new tab and type chrome://flags in the address bar.
  2. In the “Experiments” section, look for “Enable Reader Mode” and change its state to “Enabled” from the drop-down menu on its right. Relaunch Google Chrome to apply changes.
Unblur Website Reader Mode

After the relaunch, you should see the Reader Mode icon in the address bar.

Unblur Website Reader Mode Icon

Now, go to the web page with the blurred content you want to see and click on the Reader Mode icon. It should switch to an unblurred and distraction-free version of the page.

Unblur Website Reader Mode Unblurred

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to unblur a website?

It’s not illegal to unblur a website if you’re using the methods above and you don’t intend to copy, distribute, or use the blurred content for commercial purposes. The potential for legal action also depends on the country you’re in. You could be fined for circumventing a paywall or receive a DMCA violation notice. Your IP address could also be blacklisted.

Is it ethical to unblur text on a website?

It’s not ethical to unblur text that you can only access under certain conditions such as signing up for a membership or paying for a subscription.

Can I reverse unblurred text?

Sort of. When using Google Translate, Internet Archive, and Google Search to unblur text, there’s no need to revert the unblurred content. Just close the page in question. For the Inspect tool, reverse unblurred text by refreshing the page. In Reader Mode, click on the Reader Mode icon to hide the paywalled content again.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Natalie dela Vega
Natalie dela Vega

Natalie is a writer specializing in tech how-tos and gaming. When she's not writing, she plays PC games and travels. Here at MakeTechEasier, you will see her write about guides, tips, and solutions for Windows and iOS.

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