15 FREE 12ft Ladder Alternatives to Remove Paywalls in 2023

As an entrepreneur relying on market news and data, paywalls can be a frustrating barrier. But don‘t worry, there are plenty of free browser extensions, apps and web tools to legally bypass paywalls.

This comprehensive guide compares 15 popular alternatives to bypass paywalls like 12ft ladder. I‘ll analyze the pros and cons of each tool and offer tips from my experience as a small business owner on integrating them into your workflow.

The rising paywall problem

First, let‘s look at some statistics on paywalls:

  • Over 84% of newspapers have some form of paywall, up from 43% in 2013 (source)
  • Average paywall conversion rates range from 1.3% for metered paywalls to 11.5% for hard paywalls (source)
  • 67% of readers feel paywalls inhibit their ability to get news and information (source)

As you can see, publisher paywalls are widespread and readers increasingly want to bypass them. Let‘s look at the best tools available:

1. Bypass Paywalls Clean

With over 300,000 users, Bypass Paywalls Clean is my go-to recommendation for a paywall removal extension. Here‘s why:

  • Bypasses paywalls on 100+ major publications including NYTimes, Bloomberg,Medium
  • Open-source and transparent development process
  • Customizable options to whitelist sites
  • No ads or clutter injected
  • Seamless one-click installation
  • Actively maintained and updated

The only downside is it occasionally breaks on some sites until fixed. But overall, Bypass Paywalls Clean is a must-have browser extension for entrepreneurs looking to stay informed.

2. Unpaywall

Unlike other tools that simply bypass paywalls, Unpaywall redirects you to legal open access versions of articles found online. This makes it especially great for accessing academic and scientific research.

For entrepreneurs, key benefits include:

  • Integrates seamlessly into Chrome and Firefox
  • Checks multiple open access databases with 50+ million articles
  • Easy to use with no configuration required
  • Focuses on legal access via Creative Commons and publicly funded resources

The only limitation is that it won‘t work on news sites. But for research papers and market reports, Unpaywall is invaluable.

3. Readium

If you regularly read articles on sites like New York Times, Bloomberg, Medium, and Wired – Readium is a great single-purpose tool to bypass their paywalls.

Here‘s how it works:

  • Add Readium bookmarklet to your browser bookmarks toolbar
  • Click it when on a paywalled article to remove the paywall
  • If first try doesn‘t work, click again to cycle through other bypass methods

I like Readium because it‘s super simple to use and very reliable on those specific sites. It never injects ads or clutter into pages.

4. AdBlock Plus

Already use AdBlock Plus for removing ads? Did you know it can also be configured to bypass many basic paywalls?

The steps are:

  1. Install AdBlock Plus browser extension
  2. Go into Customize tab under Filter lists
  3. Under Import, paste paywall bypassing rules from github.com/nextgens/anti-paywall
  4. Save and apply changes

Now AdBlock Plus will bypass paywalls on dozens of news sites like NYTimes, Washington Post, and Quora. It‘s worth trying if you currently use AdBlock Plus.

5. Outline

Outline is an ingeniously designed web tool that lets you remove paywalls on news sites with a single click.

Just copy/paste the article URL into Outline and it will parse the content and provide a simplified clean view. I like Outline for quickly grabbing extracts from articles to share with my team.

Key benefits:

  • Strips away all clutter and converts images into text
  • Lets you save articles as PDF or send to Kindle
  • Completely free and contains no ads
  • Works on many major publications


  • As a web app, lacks browser integration of extensions
  • Limited success with academic journals

6. Pocket

Here‘s a creative way entrepreneurs can bypass some paywalls – use Pocket‘s built-in Read Now feature.

When you save an article to Pocket, it will sometimes successfully parse and unlock paywalled content from sites like NYTimes, Wired, Wall Street Journal.

So it‘s worth trying this:

  1. Install Pocket browser extension
  2. Click Save to Pocket on paywalled article
  3. Open Pocket app and click "Read Now"

Even if it doesn‘t unlock the paywall, Pocket‘s formatting provides a reader-friendly layout great for focused reading. You can also auto-send articles to your Kindle.

7. Bypass Paywalls (Firefox/Chrome extension)

This handy open-source extension is purpose-built to defeat paywalls through various methods like disabling Javascript code responsible for paywall popups.

It works seamlessly in the background and unlocks 160+ news sites including NYTimes, The Economist, and Bloomberg.

I like how this extension is community-updated via GitHub by hundreds of developers. The active maintenance ensures it keeps working on new paywall code. Highly recommended for Firefox or Chrome users.

8. 12ft Ladder

This aptly named web tool lets you access paywalled content with a single click, just like its popular predecessor 12ft.io.

To use 12ft Ladder:

  1. Copy and paste paywalled article URL into 12ft Ladder
  2. It will immediately generate a readable preview of full content
  3. Toggle Options to simplify page further

As a web app, 12ft Ladder works best for quickly previewing and sharing snippets from paywalled news articles. It lacks the convenience of set-and-forget browser extensions.

9. Resurrect Pages

Resurrect Pages takes a novel approach to bypassing paywalls. Instead of directly removing paywalls, it accesses cached and archived versions of pages from sites like Wayback Machine.

The benefit of this approach is it unlocks really old content from before publications implemented paywalls.

As an entrepreneur looking for historical data, trends, and records, I‘ve found Resurrect Pages invaluable. Just paste the URL in and it will dig up working archives if available.

10. Specialized tools

In addition to general paywall removal tools, some handy specialized options are:

  • Softwall browser extension – Unlocks paywalled academic journals
  • Medium Unlimited – Removes Medium‘s membership paywall
  • Quora Plus – Access all Quora Q&A without logging in

These work smoothly on those specific sites. Easy to install and configure. Worth checking out!

Tips for bypassing paywalls

Here are some tips from my experience for fellow entrepreneurs looking to maximize access to market intel and data:

  • Set up multiple paywall removal tools and browser extensions for best results. Each uses different bypass methods.
  • Use private browsing mode to reset metered paywalls that allow a limited number of free articles per month.
  • Access content via Google and other search engines, which cache original versions before paywalls.
  • For research papers, check university library access and academic networks like ResearchGate for freely uploaded copies.
  • Support creators you rely on regularly by subscribing at least to their publication. Quality journalism and analysis requires compensation to be sustainable.


With increasing publisher paywalls, tools that bypass them legally provide entrepreneurs with cost-effective access to vital industry news, data, and research.

This guide covers the top 15 alternatives to bypass paywalls just like 12ft ladder. The best options integrate seamlessly into your browsing experience and are updated continually.

As an entrepreneur, staying informed on trends, analysis, and emerging strategies is key to success. With these paywall bypass tools in your toolkit, you can access the content you need without expensive subscriptions.

Know any other great paywall defeaters I should cover? Let me know in the comments!