How to Turn off Highlights on Medium

There is a way, though you may not like it

J.A. Taylor
3 min readFeb 23, 2020


Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Ever try to read an article on Medium you are genuinely interested in, but it looks like a fluorescent marker orgy from a used textbook? Perhaps it is as annoying to you as it is to me.

I’m used to reading on a Kindle with the ability to turn off popular highlights. After spending an hour scouring the internet for such a feature on Medium, my hopes soared when I found a Google Chrome extension that looked promising. But alas, the extension hadn’t been updated in years and it failed to live up to its promise.

My search also led me to an article in the Medium help center on removing highlights. It seemed promising until I read that it was only about removing your own highlights. However, I discovered something interesting near the bottom: Passages you highlight are visible to your followers.

Screenshot of false hope from the Medium Help Center

For articles which have an annoying amount of highlighting, I’ve discovered most of the highlights come from one person. It’s as if they had a surge of euphoria reading the article that resonated deeply with their soul while fearing they would never remember what they gleaned from it. I’m sure this person goes back to their highlights and revisits what they’ve highlighted over and over on at least a tri-annual basis.

So I tried an experiment. I found an article with an ungodly amount of highlighting and confirmed it was mostly from the same person — someone I had followed for a reason I can’t understand (probably being new to the platform and trying to get them to notice my work), but I didn’t know them and found they had written zero articles — none. I unfollowed them, and Voila! The highlights magically disappeared when I revisited the page.

Now you might be thinking, “That’s great, but I followed that person intentionally.” I understand. But it’s been my experience that the actual authors I follow spend more of their time writing than highlighting other’s work.

I recognize this is a drastic solution, and far from ideal. I realize that my highlights might annoy other readers that follow me. I also understand some authors appreciate it when readers highlight their work. However, wouldn’t it be nice if Medium Staff could give us a feature that allowed us to turn off highlights and read clean stories while letting readers bleed their colors all over as many pages as they wish?

If you appreciate an author’s story, clap, write a response, leave a private note, or highlight if you dare. But be personal and interactive. A highlight with a comment is much more meaningful than a random, messy marker orgy.

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