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Read popular magazines on your PC for free

magazinesAmit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration shares a very simple hack that allows you to read a few popular magazines for free in digital format. The titles include Popular Mechanics, US News, Car and Driver, Macworld, Readers Digest, Penthouse, Playboy and a few more names.

The hack is based on the fact that Zinio Labs allows iPhone owners to browse these magazines for free from their phones. The ordinary folks without iPhone can enjoy the same privilege if they convince Zinio they are using the phone. How is that possible? In fact pretty simple. Switch the browser user agent settings and make Zinio web server think you are running a different browser brand/version than it really is, a trick very similar to referrer spoofing used for free access to the WSJ.

Follow the steps below to get the user agent configured, then open zinio.com/iphone in your browser and enjoy your free magazines!

Using Safari browser

Since all Apple developers are geeks they built in this functionality right into the web browser. Here are the steps you need to follow if you want to change the user agent in Safari:

  • Go to Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced and check the option that says “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
  • Open the “Develop” option in the browser menu bar and choose “Mobile Safari 1.1.3 - iPhone” as the user agent.

Using Firefox configuration

Firefox have hidden the user agent behind advanced configuration settings. Here are the steps:

  • Type “about:config” in the browser URL and click enter
  • Right mouse click on the list and select New -> String in the menu
  • Enter “general.useragent.override” for the preference name and “Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3″ for the value

Reset the property after you are done reading (this setting is global and will affect other websites).

Using Firefox plugin

A little bit more user friendly solution involves this plugin. After you install it in your browser, open the plugin options and define a custom user agent with these settings:

  • Description: iPhone
  • User Agent: Mobile Safari 1.1.3 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en)
  • App Name: AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko)
  • App Version: Version/3.0
  • Platform: Mobile/1A542a Safari/419.3

Switch to this user agent whenever you want to read the magazines.

Using Internet Explorer

Changing user agent string in Internet Explorer requires fiddling with Windows registry which I generally don’t recommend. If you feel challenged, this MSDN article has all the details on how this can be done.

Source: How to Read Popular Magazines on your Desktop for Free at Digital Inspiration


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1 Response to “Read popular magazines on your PC for free”


  1. 1 Lance Jun 6th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Ok, so now how do you download an issue?

    Also, I found it easiest to just download the Safari browser and select iPhone as the user agent under the develop tab.

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