This Is Not A Short Joke

Image of a little kid measuring their height against a ruler on the wall which has nothing to do with shortened URLS.

Shortened URLs are no joking matter! Although there are plenty of jokes around about short people (and even a pop song), today I want to talk about shortened URL addresses.

There are a number of great services that will allow you to shorten a web page’s address (more technically known as its URL – Uniform Resource Locator). But first, let’s answer the question of why you would want to shorten a URL.

Why Shorten A URL?

Suppose you asked us for help with the Firefox browser. Perhaps you just wanted information on browsing in Firefox because you had never used it before. We could send you directly to Firefox’s help page on browsing which has this URL: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/products/firefox/basic-browsing-firefox. You might be able to get to the page correctly if you could click and go to it. However, suppose for some reason you had to type the webpage into the browser’s address bar. There are a lot of characters in the URL and it would be easy to make a mistake. If you were to mistype the address by even one character, you might find yourself staring at a 404 (Page Not Found) message. Or, worse yet, you might be redirected to an infected or scam website.

Shortened URLs – How To Create Them

To avoid all this, I could use a URL shortening service. That long website URL (which, in truth, is not all that long compared to some other addresses) then could become this: http://bit.ly/blog0321. As you can see, there are far fewer characters to type and you are more likely to wind up on the correct website. Click on the shortened link to try it!

There is, of course, one catch. In the original URL above, you can easily see that you are going to Mozilla’s support website. (If you don’t know, Mozilla is the owner of Firefox.) However, in my shortened version, you have absolutely no clue as to whose website you’ll be visiting. With that in mind, you should never click a shortened URL unless you are confident that the person or company sending you there is legit.

Check Before You Click Or Tap

Since you aren’t able to see where you’re really headed when you use a shortened URL, if you’re not 100% sure the link is legitimate, check it out first. How do you accomplish the task? Easy! Just head over to https://expandurl.net/expand and expand it.

Try It Now

Now, I know you are biting at the bullet to try this yourself. So, here are some shortening services you can use to try it:



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About the Author

John Grubb

I've been working on computers since 1983! I love helping people resolve their computing issues and sharing preventative measures, as well.