Selecting The Right URL Shortener Can Make A Difference

Melanie Gross
Jun 22, 2011
Updated • Dec 11, 2012

It can seem to us that the internet is a limitless place, and in many ways it is. Organizations can always expand their servers to accommodate more traffic, or more content, of whatever it is that they feel they need more of. With space on Facebook, huge swaths of free room in email accounts and photo websites, and the coming age of completely free cloud storage from Apple, Google, and even Amazon, we can often forget that there are limits as to how much the internet, magical as it is, can handle.

Yet there are some tiny nooks and crannies around the web where space is at a premium, and there are times when being conservative with what you do online is necessary. For example, throwing a long URL into a Twitter or Facebook post can take up important space, forcing readers to look at unnecessarily long addresses and stealing precious characters you may not be able to afford. As such, using URL shorteners to condense obtrusively long addresses into smaller, more compact ones can allow you to use that space more intelligently.

There are many different URL shorteners out there, and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each can help you choose particular tools for particular projects. This article considers a brief few and helps you distinguish between the advantages of each.

As always, Google has worked its way into the mix and offers a very simple URL shortener called It is absolutely bare-bones, and you certainly cannot get confused using its interface. Plug your long URL in the left and out pops a short one to the right. A history of the addresses you have shortened appears below the engine as you proceed.

google url shortener

Users may not be satisfied with the obscure, often unhelpful URLs such engines put out for us. After all, we are trying to change these addresses into little units that better suit our needs, so why shouldn’t we have some say in what they come out as? Enter, a URL shortener that allows you to personalize the end of the URL for identification purposes. For example, if I want to point to a Ghacks article, I can include the term Ghacks in the URL.


Just like that, now points directly to an earlier post about face recognition software. This is one shortener that can be a big help if you want to leave viewers with a hint as to what is at the other end of the link.
Unfortunately, some of the URL shorteners that were most valuable to users have disappeared completely. DwarfURL was one such engine, which allowed you to keep stats on the links you created free of charge. There is one nifty little shortener that has stuck around - Memurl. This website allows you to plug in a long address and receive a short one, just like the others. Memurl, however, provides links that are easier to remember because they are mnemonic, making them easy to pronounce and easier to remember.

Other url shortening services offer similar options. Tinyurl for instance generates a random url by default, but offers options to pick a custom string instead for the shortened url. Several additional aspects are worth mentioning. Some services, like Tinyurl, offer preview pages for shortened urls which can be used to preview the page they link to.

Other services, like offer statistics for the link creator. Stats usually require an account though, which some users might not want to create for that purpose. Lastly, some services like McAfee's url shortener offer security checks of landing pages. They will warn the user if a page has been detected as malicious or otherwise harmful.

There are many different ways to shorten URLs for many different purposes. Finding the right one for your needs is the tricky part.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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