For a while now, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that some local reporters I follow on Twitter invariably tweet links to their stories at
mercurynews.com, the paywalled website of the San Jose Mercury News. No offense to the Mercury News reporters, but I live 50 miles away from San Jose and don’t want to subscribe to their paper. Besides, the Mercury News’s publisher, MediaNews Group, also publishes my local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal—which I do subscribe to.
Knowing what I know from my history in corporate media, I came to discover that almost every story posted to
mercurynews.com is also posted to
marinij.com, probably because the entire company is using the same content management system. Which led me to discover that if I take a URL from
mercurynews.com and replace the domain with
marinij.com, the stories I was blocked from seeing from San Jose are now available to me via my Marin IJ subscription.
mercurynews.com stories to the
It turns out I didn’t need to make my own extension, because Manabu Nakazawa made one. It’s the free ($4 to unlock all features forever) Safari Extension app Redirect Web for Safari.
Nakazawa’s app lets you match URL patterns and redirect them to other patterns. That’s it. You can set your own patterns (using a simple wildcard system or a more powerful but complicated set of regular expressions) and even sync them with your other devices via iCloud. (The app is available for both macOS and iOS.) (If you don’t use Safari, maybe check out the Redirector plug-in instead.)
I’m got the extension for the Mercury News-to-Marin IJ redirection, but I’m already starting to find other uses for it. For example, I’ve added a rule that will redirect me away from
m.imdb.com — a template I don’t like — to the regular
www.imdb.com. I’m sure more ideas will follow.
The app is free to use for a single redirect with no cloud syncing. For unlimited redirects and syncing, you can subscribe (which you should not do!) or just buy it for $4 (which makes more sense). Check it out on the App Store.[Update: I should note that the excellent what-doesn’t-it-do-to-make-browsing-nicer extension Stop the Madness added a redirect feature a while ago, too. And I didn’t notice!]