A Firefox and Chrome extension to read Medium articles for free – badly translated


Rough translation done with google translate

Medium.com is a good place to keep up to date if you work on the web, although articles tend to have clickbait headlines and focus on current trends (e.g. Chatgpt and AI tools these weeks).

Medium.com uses a paywall system and allows you to read the full articles only upon registration (and payment), but it is a foodie and wants to be well indexed on Google, to which it provides the full text of the articles. It is therefore possible, in theory, to read the complete articles by querying the cache of the search engine. However, Medium has inserted a check to prevent this from happening, which makes the Google cache page completely empty for the visitor a few seconds after loading.

When viewing the “source code” version of the Google cache page, all of the html behind the full article is present. By saving this code in an html file and opening it with a browser it would be possible to read the full text, but it would be too cumbersome to do it for each post you want to read.

So I developed an extension for Firefox and Chrome that automates this process with a simple click. This extension allows you to add a button to the browser which, if clicked when you are on a Medium article, opens the corresponding cached copy of Google and tries to keep the content readable. Even if the solution found at the code level is not stylistically excellent, it has one merit: it works.

This is the complete code of the extension: https://github.com/invernomuto-git/medium-free

I sent the extension to be published on the stores of the two browsers, but while Firefox approved it without problems (and can be downloaded here), Chrome instead, after asking me for $5 to create a developer account, refused the extension saying it’s not compatible with their policy:

Do not facilitate unauthorized access to content on websites, for example by bypassing paywalls or access restrictions.

Actually my extension doesn’t bypass any paywall, it just shows cached page freely visible by anyone on Google. It is therefore not an unauthorized access or forcing of any kind.

For those who use Chrome it is still possible to manually install the extension, following the steps below:

  1. download the zip file from this link
  2. unzip it into a folder
  3. open chrome
  4. top right three dots -> Extensions -> Manage extensions
  5. click on the “Load unpackaged extension” button at the top left
  6. look for the folder where you unpacked the extension files and select it.

In this way the extension will be added to the browser without going through the shop. To have the button always visible, click on the puzzle piece at the top right and then on the pin symbol next to the extension that will appear in the list.

This is my first extension, so there will definitely be a lot of things to improve and fix. Contact me and I will try to give you feedback as soon as possible.


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