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How to view text-only versions of Web sites

If you're on a slower Internet connection, loading pages with many images or advertisements can be a real hassle.

Some Web sites have lots of ads, pictures, and other distracting things on their pages. If you're on a slower Internet connection, loading pages like these can be a real hassle. However, with the use of some quick Web tools, you can strip these sites down to their bare bones--just the text. BareSite, TinyRead, and TextMirror are some of the more popular free services that can help you clear the clutter.

This server doesn't ask for any of your personal information, or request that you sign up for an account. You can view all of your most visited pages and choose whether to hide or display their URLs. The site will load in the same window after you enter it into the search box, with just the text (and functional links) available for you to read. No waiting for a conversion, no ads asking you to buy a membership--just a free, simple, and awesome service at your fingertips.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma
Screenshot by Nicole Cozma

Using this service is free, but offers the ability to register if you like. According to the site, you'll receive some perks for registering, including: reading lists, ability to save pages for later, and a bit of visual customization. Saving pages involves a free and tiny bookmarklet that will save your current page for later when you click it. The main site offers a lot of reading recommendations, such as CNN, New York Times, and BBC. Luckily, you can still plug in any URL or site name into the search box near the top of the page.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma
Screenshot by Nicole Cozma

The least glamorous of the three, TextMirror offers as close to no interface as possible. There's one box for inputting URLs and a Terms of Service to agree to (with each search). Type in the site you want to read, agree to the ToS, and go. The Web site will load in a box within its site with only text. This means there are zero links (no navigation available), images, or other frills, just the text. So if you're looking for supersimple and have the exact link of what you want to read, this is for you.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma