How to Copy and Select Text from Snopes.com

   Posted by David Kirk in Browsers

I really like Snopes. I really do. However, they use a stupid javascript command to prevent people from selecting and copying the text on their web pages. Here is how to defeat their defenses.

Now, I really despise people that steal tech-recipes material by copying and pasting into their websites. This confuses google and steals traffic away from us. However, to break a basic part of the web to stop this is inexcusable. Shame on Snopes. Shame.

Snopes uses a little bit of javascript to prevent people from selecting text on their website. If you can not select it, you cannot copy it. Snopes does this so people will have to send the URL to the page instead of just copying and pasting the text. Breaking part of the web browsing experience just to make a buck is poor form.

To override the evil of snopes, just past the following into the address bar of your browser and press ENTER:

javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null)

After doing this, you can select text and copy until your heart is content.

snopes select text

Wouldn’t it be funny if somebody started an email about the evilness of snopes breaking the rules of friendly web browsing? Then snopes would have to respond to their own “urban legend.” I say it is TRUE! :)

 

About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • AlanB

    Neither the JS code from the article nor JSView seem to do anything for me.

  • RichardFrisch

    You can also add the JSView Firefox add-on and then click on the JS icon in the right-side of the status bar to turn off the JavaScript on any page.

  • Anonymous

    I was going to say something similar – NoScript for Firefox does the trick for me. Just ensure that scripts aren’t allowed for Snopes.com and it works a treat.

  • AlanB

    NoScript is the only thing that actually works. If you read the scripts on the Snopes site you will understand why.

    • Cap. Obvious

      > Works brilliantly in Opera, you don’t need any extensions. Just edit site preferences, and uncheck Javascript. :D

  • Art

    Great tip – Snopes has always been difficult to copy – if you have Vista, the Snipping Tool will do just fine, too. I find the Snipping Tool invaluable.

  • http://illos-comps.com CW

    Not working for me in Camino.
    Works in Safari. Does anyone know why this doesn’t work in Camino?

  • SteveS

    I don’t get it – you despise those who steal from you… “Now, I really despise people that steal tech-recipes material by copying and pasting into their websites” yet you have no problem showing others how to steal from Snopes? Doesn’t really matter if people aren’t copying that content to be used as their own to profit from, you’re bypassing their site which could affect them negatively should they decide to want to allow advertising on it someday.

    “Breaking part of the web browsing experience just to make a buck”? Where are they making a buck here? I don’t see any advertising on their site, and even if there were, I’d say they’ve got every right to cover their hosting costs and make a few bucks on the side if possible.

    I’d agree that most javascripts to block copying are pretty silly, but can’t fault them for doing this especially with people so eager to copy their content.

  • Lynne

    Yep, I tried JSView and the browser entry…but had to go to use the NoScript Firefox add-on to get it to work as well.

  • Prakash

    I tried what you recommended. It did not work in Firefox 3.0.4

    There is a simpler method. Juct convert the page to a pdf doc. Then cut and paste from there.

    • Don

      USE A BOOKMARKLET
      In Google Chrome of Windows XP I created a new page on the bookmark bar (right click on the bar) named “Void Script”. Then I added the script in place of a URL. When on a page thats is blocked I just click on the bookmarkelt.

      GREAT WITH GOOGLE NOTES
      When researching a topic, Google Notes is great–like a bookmark with sampled text and images added. But it requires highlighting the text & images. Now I can use it on more sites

      • Mark

        The bookmarklet idea works great! This way I don’t have to remember the javascript code.

        Props to you!

    • Ed

      > Another simple method, at least in Chrome, is to give the Print command to the page. You can then select and copy from the print preview.

      • MizzWycked

        >YOU are a genius!! This is the ONLY solution that worked for me. Thanks bunches!!

  • joyce Routman

    how can I send information to SNOPES when I don’t have a proper address???

  • Sean

    Thanks! This works great in IE but not in Firefox. This is definitely poor form for snopes. Not allowing people to copy article text just results in people spending time figuring out how to work around the problem rather than causing them to only send a link. Besides, I like to include key paragraphs from snopes (in addition to the link) when I reply to the ridiculous chain emails I get so as to summarize the info for the people who clearly don’t do much reading and reasoning on their own.

  • Anonymous

    It is bad form. I have a standard sort of format when I respond to people who send me these Urban Legends and whatnot. I offer a link to my primary or most representative source for refuting the claim, and then usually a little snippet of text for those too lazy to follow the link. Basically Snopes breaks my ability to quote them, which makes it more likely I’ll go with a Wikipedia link and quote, so why do they do it?

  • maxappet1te

    firefox 3.0.8

    I only ctrl + a ; copy + paste then edit

    no problems with snopes, don’t know about others

    – maxappet1te

  • adoxa

    Tried your advice many times (in Firefox) and it does not help one iota. What am I doing wrong??

    I use this in the browser as suggested. Snopes will not budge.
    javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null)

  • Kelly

    Excellent tip! But the onselectstart event is only supported in IE. For Firefox or other “A-Grade” browsers, use onmousedown like this:

    javascript:void(document.onmousedown=null)

    Probably should update the original post to reflect, since it seems like I wasn’t the only person who tried the instructions and found they didn’t work. Haven’t you heard? IE is an endangered species!

    • Kelly

      Also, you can drag this URL into your link bar or make a bookmark with this location, to quickly perform this action on any (snopes) page. Probably will also work with pages that disable right-clicking, so it may be a useful “bookmarklet” … thanks again!

  • ChrisC

    Thanks for the great tip, as others have said, I always like to include relevant text with a link in emails for anyone who can’t be bothered to click through to the page itself. They may not realise it, but small actions such as this make myself (and I’m sure others) less likely to use them in the future.

    In searching for a way round the block, I also found another JavaScript hack, http://javascript.internet.com/page-details/disable-text-selection.html unfortunately this code doesn’t get round that, anyone know how to hack it?

    Thanks again.

  • Betty

    Thanks for your info. You have a small typo error on this page – past instead of paste.
    “To override the evil of snopes, just past the following into the address bar of your browser and press ENTER:”

    I used & recommended your site often when I worked as a technology specialist in a school system. I use it more now for personal use. Thanks for all of your hard work and worthwhile information.

  • Don Juan

    Go to TOOLs in the menu bar and select Disable Java Scripts and then refresh the screen.

  • Bobby

    Thanks for the tip. This works GREAT. I love the idea that people familiar with this techy stuff, pass it on and educate others. Snopes still gets its advertising across to anyone visiting their site and I can copy a little stinking portion of the text if I choose.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. It’s ridiculous that you can’t pick up a simple quote, a quote they don’t even own, because they’re trying to direct more traffic to their page. Shame on them.

  • Chad

    View Source, done.

  • hal

    Thanks for this… very helpful. And coincidently I was trying to copy the very text you used in your screenshot- i find that hilarious.

  • http://ms1.gotdns.com jonny rocket

    doesn’t work.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NASE4WHOSWM6MLGP34PEXR2WII Edwin

    s w e e t

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NASE4WHOSWM6MLGP34PEXR2WII Edwin

    s w e e t

  • http://www.quietbabylon.com/ Tim Maly

    This rules.

  • Dodger

    document.onmousedown=null

  • Eddie11a

    This worked for me. Thank you! Some people won’t click on links so the ability to copy/paste is great.

  • Guest

    Whatever isn’t nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry loose isn’t nailed down.

  • Bluechips

    Worked for me

  • Joey

    What was posted didn’t work for me but I changed it to “document.onmousedown=null” and it did. I am less annoyed by the inability to select text than I am with the fact that the green and red circles they use to represent truth and lies are too similar for someone with red-green color blindness

  • http://www.facebook.com/themarkwilson Mark Wilson

    I didn’t need to copy anything there, but I constantly “select/ right-click/ search” when I’m browsing. Thanks for the tip!

  • Yet Another Blogger

    Thanks.

    Cutting’n’pasting a snippet for a fair use quote is not stealing. I doubt that this slows down the ne’er-do-wells.

  • Anonymous

    Works for me on my aging Mac. So sorry it’s taken me this long to search and discover a solution for this problem!

  • SteveC

    I’m using Windows Vista and Firefox 3.6. In the Menu Bar, go to Tools–>Options…–>Content (tab)–>uncheck Enable JavaScript. You can now copy and paste to your heart’s content.

  • Queen of Bellrock

    Isn’t it nice that snopes provides a work-around for those with colorblindness, and it’s right in their FAQ: http://www.snopes.com/info/faq.asp#colors

    But if you disable Java to “borrow” their copyrighted content, you also disable the colorblindness work-around.

  • Guadasol

    Thanks a lot. It worked with google chrome. 

  • Mc42angel

    Pasting javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null) into address bar and selectin “enter” did not work for me

  • Jim Willittes

    I have been using the command “javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null)” by copying and pasting it into the browsers of IE and Chome. Recently It stopped working so I looked at the command after I pasted it. It was missing “javascript:” at the beginning. I couldn’t get either browser to show the complete command after pasting so I manually typed in “javascript:” and it worked. Quotation marks in this post are not part of the needed command. Leave them out.

  • FF 6.01

    With Firefox 6, CTRL+A works fine, as does disabling javascript from tools/options/content.

    However, none of the javascript commands themselves seemed to work for me. I even tried them in an IE tab to see if that might magically work.

  • Lenoxus

    One good reason for Snopes to do this is so that if you see an email/forum post with a “real excerpt from the Snopes page that PROVES thus-and-such” then you can know it probably isn’t an excerpt, because copying is difficult. (And will therefore take the trouble to go to the page yourself.)

    On the other hand, the problem is that most people don’t know this about Snopes, and therefore dishonest folks, playing off people’s laziness, have an advantage over honest ones.

  • Cindy Cara

    A good reason for this is that Snopes might update their site (they don’t want old stuff out there) or words may be taken out of context and may misprepresent their point.
    I always include a link to a page I quote – if not my usual recipients, I write “Always click here for the latest information”.

  • Gigi

    javascript:void(document.onmousedown=null)

    This worked for me on IE8.

    It’s ridiculous that some sites want to prevent visitors from copying their precious text.

    • Shivam Semwal

      If u are using Firefox this might work for u
      run this command in Firebug console
      document.body.style.MozUserSelect=””;

  • Rondo Hunter

    Apparently this does not work with Windows XP/Google Chrome. At least it would not when I just tried it. Snopes gave the reply “Sorry, no matches were found containing javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null).” My italics, but the strange thing is that I copy/paste that sentence from Snopes. Still, as I read elsewhere you can right-click on the article you want, click View Page Source, and from there copy all you want. I will look for add-on’s that disable javascript as I’m sure something like that is available.

  • PT Cruiser

    Snopes should report this java script thing as an urban legend. all it does is close the Web page. At least I hope that’s all it does.

  • Mike

    Get firebug add on
    Run these lines in the console.

    document.onmousedown=null
    document.onmouseup=null
    document.oncontextmenu=null

    Problem solved.

  • Coradon

    Easier to do it in chrome. Simply select Settings>>>>Advanced Settings>>>>Content Settings
    Then under Javascript select Manage Exceptions and add Snope.com to the list and click Block then Ok.
    All sub-pages will also now allow copy/paste. And it’s permanent till you turn it off.

  • Madison

    You could also try to right-click on the page, then select SAVE PAGE AS and then save it as a text file. Then you just copy the info you need but sometimes it doesn’t work.

    • Nigel

      Thanks .. saving as a text file was the perfect answer! Problem solved ….

  • juandos

    This: javascript:void(document.onselectstart=null) NO LONGER WORKS…

    It just causes the Snopes page to default to the search engine of choice…

  • Nigel

    Nice advice, but alas it does not work for me .. using Win XP :(

  • Christina

    Code does not work with Firefox/Mozilla

  • Molly Schechter

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  • david

    Great Thanks! Worked for Chrome with windows 7

  • Ross Presser

    I’m here to report this DOES work in Chrome 29.

    The thing you have to be careful about is that if you copy the link to your clipboard and then paste in the addressbar, the “javascript:” leader is removed. You must retype it yourself.

    This works splendidly as a bookmarklet, too. Select the text in the article above and drag it to your bookmark bar. Then rename the resulting bookmark “Snopes enable copy” or whatever. When you’re viewing a snopes page, click the bookmarklet, and voila: copying enabled.