Twitter has helped to spawn a new domain name and URL industry. Remember TinyURL? It’s the web site that takes a long, ugly, unmanageable URL, and squishes it down nice and short.
When Twitter came along with their built-in 140 character limit, that gave birth to a bunch of URL shortener sites. If you’re using Safari, here’s the best shortener tool. And it’s free.
Long Is Ugly, Short Is Nice
Why use a URL shortener? Because long URLs, those web page addresses in your browser, can get ugly, unwieldy, and often break in the wrong places when you copy and paste into email.
So, what normally would look like this—http://www.mycrazysite/article2/too-many-crazy.letters-and-numbers.asp— ends up looking nice like this: http://tinyurl.com/6c2spnz.
The URL shortener works this way. You copy the long URL and a web site, like the popular TinyURL, maps the long one to a much shorter one.
Short URLs are easier to email, better for twitter, and easily obtained, Mac or Windows PC user.
For Mac users on Safari who need a built-in shortener (to avoid going to the TinyURL web site for every short URL requirement), I recommend a Safari extension called Shortly.
Go to the web page you want, click the button, and a small pop-down window appears with the shortened URL below Safari’s toolbar.
That’s the quick and easy way to grab a long and ugly URL string from a web browser and make it short and sweet.
Among the many URL shorteners, compared here, Google’s is my favorite and often considered the fastest with the most uptime.
Bit.ly is a domain name from Libya, so there may be some concern regarding longevity.
Firefox and Google Chrome users have a variety of URL shortener extensions from which to choose.
Or, you can shorten a long URL the old fashioned way. Copy the long URL that you want to make shorter, point your browser to the shortener’s web site, enter the long URL, copy the short URL, paste it where you need it.