Website URLs can be an ugly mess so many Mac and PC users who send URLs use a short link service like TinyURL. Such online services– and there are many– take long, ugly, and complicated website URLs and reduce them to something small and easy to share.
Here’s a good example. This Mac360 article’s URL looks like this (http://mac360.com/2014/02/fast-and-cheap-an-easier-way-to-shorten-urls-from-the-macs-menubar/). Other URLs are much worse. The same URL shortened by TinyURL looks like this (http://tinyurl.com/mj9slsf). See? Easier. But what if you want to see the real URL that is behind the shortened URL? There’s an app for that.
Stretch Short Links
Brett Terpstra created a clever 99-cent Mac utility called StretchLink which stretches the short URLs into their longer versions. Bit.ly, T.co, TinyURL, and others, get their shortened URLs stretched so you can see the domain and page information.
StretchLink lives in the Mac’s Menubar so it’s accessible from within any Mac app. Settings couldn’t be much easier, either. Set StretchLink to watch the Mac’s clipboard for a shortened URL, remove analytics, or remove all query strings (the latter two are often tacked on to the end of many URLs).
All this link processing takes place in the background. When you copy a shortened URL, StretchLink captures it, then changes it to the original longer URL, and strips out any of the analytics and tracking cruft in the process.
The end result is an original URL– longer, yes, but easily identifiable. What I would like to see in StretchLink is another option to remove both analytics and query strings from copied URLs, whether they’re already short links or not. That’s valuable, too.
UPDATE – I can confirm that StretchLink also removes analytics and query strings from URLs, even if they are not short links. Great.