Have you bumped into a block of blurred text on websites while browsing? Thankfully, there’s no need to turn your back in disappointment or have the impulse to pay for a subscription. You have the ability to unblur the text with one of the methods mentioned below, you can then take the time to assess whether you really want to sign up for the content.
Why is the Content Blurred by websites?
The blurring of text by websites is a common practice to keep their content exclusive to members as well as paying subscribers. Every website that does this does not require you to pay for a subscription to read the blurred content, some websites just want you to drop your email address. Or, they want you to sign up for a free membership or a free trial. Some websites also allow you to browse a limited amount of content before the paywall gets activated.
How to Unblur Text on a Website?
It’s handy if you know how to preview hidden text, it might help you make the decision regarding the subscription.
1. You can use Google Translate as a Proxy to View Hidden Text
Google Translate is a viable tool that can be used for unblurring text on a web page. You can use it to view the full as well as the translated version of a web page with blurred content. Here’s how:
- Open the web page that has the blurred text you wish to unblur.
- Then, copy the page URL.
- Visit Google Translate, then paste the URL in the left-hand box.
- Click on the URL that appears in the right-hand box, if you prefer to read the content in a language other than English, you can select a language from the choices listed above the box. Then, click on the refreshed URL.
You will be directed to a new tab containing the unblurred version of the web page whose URL you copied.
2. You can view a Snapshot on Internet Archive
Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine is a free-for-all tool. Here anyone can save and also look up versions of web pages. The tool searches the web as well as archives cached pages. You can use it to search saved versions of a paywalled article if any are available.
- Copy the URL of the page with the blurred content you wish to view.
- Visit the Internet Archive, then paste the URL into the Wayback Machine search bar to check if the page was archived.
- Click on the page you wish to view. If you want the latest content, pick the latest archived version based on date & time. Available archived versions will be marked by blue circles on the calendar.
You will be directed to the archived version you clicked on, here you will be able to see the blurred content.
3. You can open the Page From Google Search
Few websites that offer premium content to subscribers allow non-paying visitors to view the full content of the link they clicked on from Google Search results. This is done to boost their traffic. However, if you do use this method, you are only allowed to view the content of the page URL you clicked. When you go deeper into the website, you will face a paywall. This is how you bypass this restriction:
- Copy the title of the page containing the blurred text you wish to view, then paste it into Google Search. Hover over the page’s tab, then you will see the page title. If you are not able to copy the page title, you can type it manually.
For further accuracy, type the website name at the end or beginning of the query.
- Select the result with the same page URL as the page you wish to unblur.
The entire page will then be available for viewing.
4. You can view Blurred Content with the Inspect Element
The Inspect or the Inspect Element tool is available in all desktop web browsers, all you need to do is right-click on the page you wish to inspect, then you will be able to see either “Inspect” or “Inspect Element” in the right-click menu.
- On the page, you wish to unblur, right-click anywhere, then click on “Inspect” or “Inspect Element.” The Inspect section will pop out on the right, or it will appear at the bottom of your browser window.
- Select the line of code that pertains to the hidden content, you have to ensure that you select the parent element i.e., the one encompassing all the little elements. On the chosen page, we would be looking for a line that starts with “<aside class=” Paywall…“
- After you find the correct line, right-click on it, then click on “Delete element” in the context menu. This will delete the blocker element on the selected page.
- The next line of code you have to modify begins with “<body…” In that line, you need to locate the style=” overflow: hidden;” code.
- Right-click on that snippet, then select “Edit attribute.” You have to change the attribute value from “hidden” to “visible,” then hit the Enter key.
This action will work on the blurred content behind the blocker to make it viewable.
A Few Things to Note
In some browsers, the Inspect tool might not be visible if you have not enabled the use of developer tools. So, look for a “Develop” menu or similar, here you will have to check if these tools are active.
The names for the blocker as well as blurred content elements on the page differ among websites. The style attribute may not always be shown as “overflow.” It might also appear as “visibility: hidden,” “filter: blur,” or something different. You will have to play around by using the trial-and-error method to locate the relevant bits of code you need to modify or delete. If you happen to mess up, refresh the page to restart.
5. You can switch to Reader Mode
Many modern browsers offer a “reader” mode, this mode removes web page clutter, for example, ads as well as other distractions. This is called Reader Mode in Chrome, Reader View in Firefox as well as Safari. This mode allows you to view blurred or paywalled content on a few websites, it is an optional feature in certain browsers. So, you will need to enable it before you can use it to unblur text.
To enable Reader Mode on Google Chrome, follow:
- Open a new tab, then enter chrome://flags in the address bar.
- In the “Experiments” section, locate “Enable Reader Mode,” then change its state to “Enabled” from the drop-down menu on its right. Then, relaunch Google Chrome, this will apply changes.
After you relaunch, you will be able to see the Reader Mode icon in the address bar.
Now, visit the web page with the blurred content you wish to see, then click on the Reader Mode icon. This will switch to an unblurred as well as a distraction-free version of the page.
Is it legal to unblur a website?
It is not illegal to unblur a website if you are using the methods mentioned above as long as you do not intend to copy, distribute, or use the blurred content for commercial purposes. The potential for legal action depends on the country you reside in. A fine can be imposed for circumventing a paywall. Or, you can receive a DMCA violation notice. The IP address you use can also be blacklisted.
Is it ethical to unblur text on a website?
It is not ethical to unblur text that you can only access under certain conditions, for example, signing up for a membership or having to pay for a subscription.
Can you reverse the unblurred text?
Sort of. While using Google Translate, Internet Archive, as well as Google Search to unblur text, there occurs no reason to revert the unblurred content. You can just close the page in question. However, for the Inspect tool, you can reverse the unblurred text by refreshing the page. If you used the Reader Mode; you need to click on the Reader Mode icon to hide the paywalled content again.
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