Firefox: Copying “Uncopyable” Text

Have you ever been to a website that won’t let you copy text? Like this page, for example? There are a few workarounds for this, especially with Firefox.

The easiest is to just click the “Reading Mode” icon in Firefox’s address bar:

This presents a simplified page with most of the ads and graphics stripped out. You can easily copy text now:

Another option uses uBlock Origin. uBlock is one of the most popular ad blocking extensions, and it’s available for Firefox, Chrome and Edge.  If you don’t use uBlock already, you probably should. In Firefox you can install it by clicking the hamburger icon in the upper right corner of a Firefox window and then “Add-ons and themes” and type “uBlock Origin” in the search bar. Make sure you install uBlock Origin and not plain old uBlock or any other variant. For other browsers, just go to its extensions site\store and install it from there.

In any case, if you click on the uBlock icon in the Firefox toolbar, you can click the “</>” icon to disable JavaScript, then click the “Reload page” icon just above it (the arrows in a circle):

Ublock Disable Javascript

Ublock Reload Page

Don’t forget to re-enable JavaScript when done! uBlock disables JavaScript on a per-domain basis, so while it shouldn’t affect other websites, it might affect some other aspect of the current site.

The inability to copy text is almost always done in JavaScript. So disabling JavaScript will almost always allow you to copy text. But digging through the settings in whichever browser you use can be a chore, and may require a restart of the browser.

There are plenty of Firefox and Chrome\Edge extensions that let you toggle JavaScript off and on, and they usually work. But it’s so rare that I come across this that I usually try Reading Mode first, and it that doesn’t work, disabling JavaScript via uBlock works about 99% of the time. If this happens to you all the time – maybe copying text from “protected” pages is what you do at work all day – then maybe one of those simple JavaScript togglers would work best for you. Most of these disable JavaScript within the browser, so don’t forget to turn it back on when done!

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