Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: Shorten your Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

Today, many of us spend a lot of time surfing the web and finding great resources we want to share, but often the web address fluctuates from bulky to downright unwieldy.  An example: You want to share a google spreadsheet you have created but it's really long. Not something you want to write on the whiteboard.

Other sites are much the same.  Automated systems create bulky URL's on

GoogleDocs intentionally creates a lengthy web address or URL to make it unlikely that someone will accidentally locate your spreadsheet without your permission.  (If you aren't sharing your spreadsheet they can't see it anyway, but if you make it public anyone with the URL can view it)  There are many services that make short work of chopping down a long URL


Tiny URL has long been a big player in the business of making web addresses shorter.  They have a simple direct interface.  The user pastes the url into a box and you get a tinyurl.com/****** back.  One of my favorite features of this is that it creates a single tinyurl for each site that runs through their system.  So even if 200 people shorten the url for that amazing NPR report, it's the same tinyurl for all 200 people.


bit.ly is a new player in the URL shortening business, but they have gone from a bit player to a major player by doing two things tinyurl doesn't.  First, you can use it just like tinyurl, but to make it more useful you can also create an account.  This account lets you store and refer to your bit.ly urls.  Since you can store them you can also analyze them.  These two features make bit.ly a good choice for URL shortening.


Google has gone goo.gl.  Goo.gl allows you to shorten URL just like tinyurl and bit.ly and has the huge advantage of being Google.  It links to your Google account, has analytics and the largest most powerful search engine on the web behind it.  This just launched  and looks to be an amazing new choice for URL shortening.

Word of Caution- UEN does not promote the use of url shorteners, but they can be useful in specific situations.  Be aware that these work by redirecting you from the shortened url to the full url and therefore do not provide away around Local Internet Filters.  Additionally, check with your local IT folks for policies or suggestions on using these tools in your specifici situation.

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