Is the address of the webpage you want to share or post long and convoluted? Use a specialized online service to shorten it! This will give you a short, much more presentable URL.
You have probably already noticed that the addresses – the URLs – of the web pages you visit are sometimes long and complex. Especially on merchant sites, which use databases and filters to display what you are looking for and which extend to infinity by integrating cabalistic signs. This is no problem as long as you are surfing in your browser. But it’s sometimes more annoying when you want to share an address in a message, on social networks, on a blog or in a forum, for example. Not only is a long URL not very “pretty”, but, in addition, we risk forgetting or erasing a piece of it when we copy it. Not to mention that some sites and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram reject any address containing a sensitive character, such as a hash mark, an ampersand or a question mark…
Fortunately, there are solutions to get short and simple addresses, much easier to publish and share. All you have to do is go through specialized sites that shorten URLs, which are called URL shorteners, link reducers, URL minimizers or URL shorteners among English speakers. There are dozens of them, most of them free for basic use, some offering paid plans for more professional use: TinyURL (the ancestor, still active), bitly (currently the most popular), Goo.gl (Google discount service), Rebradly (recent and original), lc.cx (business oriented), Tinycc (very powerful), iurl.io (marketing oriented), Grizzlink (in French), YOURLS (for developers), adf.ly (paid links), etc. A simple search on the web yields a myriad of results, proof that this service is very popular!
They all work on the same principle: you copy a long and complex URL – or not! – and you immediately get a short and simple address, without problematic character, which you can use as you wish. Some services offer registration, often free, which allows you to use various functions, often interesting. In particular, you can memorize shortened links, follow their use more or less finely – useful for checking that a friend has clicked on the link sent! – or even customize the URL by including a domain name – useful for bloggers who want to give their links a more professional look, for example.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a shortened URL?
As you will have understood, the main advantage of shortening an Internet address is to be able to publish and share a short and simple URL while avoiding the filters of certain social networks. For the user of the link thus generated, everything is transparent insofar as the shortened URL simply redirects to the target address. In addition, if you use the advanced functions of certain services, you benefit from numerous additional advantages (statistics, link tracking, traffic analysis, personalization, etc.).
The major disadvantage of shortened URLs is that they completely hide the real destination of the original links, with nothing indicating the real address of the target sites. As a result, it is easy to use them for dishonest purposes, creating short links to dangerous sites – for example, to fake sites that imitate official sites. So be careful when using a shortened URL – check the real address in your browser bar –, especially if you have to enter sensitive information there…
It is very easy to generate a short URL from a long address with an online service like bitly, even if the interface is in English. Basic usage is completely free, as is registration. Only advanced functions are chargeable.
- With your usual web browser, go to the web page whose address you want to shorten. If necessary, make all the necessary sorting and adjustments to obtain the desired presentation, then click with the right mouse button in the address bar of your browser and select To copy Where Copy link in the context menu. You can also select the entire address then type CTRL+C Where Command+C keyboard. But make sure that the address is fully selected! Note that you can also start from a long address that you found elsewhere. It is enough there still to copy it completely.
- Once the URL is copied to the clipboard, go to the site bitly.
- Paste the address you copied into the field Shorten your linkor by right-clicking and choosing To stick on in the context menu, or by typing Ctrl+V Where Command+V keyboard. Then click on the button Shorten.
- Immediately, the original address is replaced by its shortened URL, of the form https://bit.ly/XYZ1234. Click on the button Copy to copy it to the clipboard. All you have to do is paste it in the desired location, in a text file, in an email, in an SMS, on a web page, on a social network, etc.
If you want to take advantage of other features, including remembering your shortened URLs, create a free account.