How To Copy Crap-Free URLs From Google’s Search Results

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copy links from googleStop getting a garbled mess every time you try to copy a link from Google search results. Install one simple plugin or userscript and solve this problem entirely.

Google’s search page is a collection of links. Try to copy those links, however, and you end up with a series of seemingly random letter and numbers. Google uses these far-longer-than-necessary URLs to help track who is clicking which searches, which in turn helps make search results better, but they can be downright annoying when you need to copy and paste a link from Google for a friend. They’re ugly:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CEwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.makeuseof.com%2F&ei=wSArUPj0E5Gu8QSd1IGYDg&usg=AFQjCNET_hI9VptfwU-R4oSaJjjI-f0jgA&cad=rja

That’s just a link to MakeUseOf, believe it or not.

Some people dislike this because they don’t want to be tracked – it’s a point that’s worth discussing, but I won’t get into it now. I’m simply annoyed with these URLs. Here’s why.

The Scenario

You’re looking for a particular article or website to share with a friend; maybe the single least useful thing Justin Pot has written. You type relevant search terms – Nyan Cat progress bar Justin Pot – and hit enter. (You realize, of course, that you don’t need to hit “enter” because of Google autofill, but you’re a longtime Google user and a stickler for tradition, so you hit enter anyway. You’re awesome like that and we all notice.)

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Anyway, you’re ready to copy the result of your search when you notice, at the bottom of your browser, the garbled mess of a URL Google has turned this into.

copy links from google

Your entire body instantly fills with rage. Sure, you could copy that link – it will still work – but it’s ugly. And sure, you could simply click the link, wait for the page to load and copy the URL from the address bar as soon as you can.

But you don’t have time for that nonsense. Not now. You’re in a hurry.

Calm down. It hasn’t always been like this. It doesn’t need to be like this.

Let’s fix this.

The Solution

Are you a Firefox user? Good. All you need to do to solve this problem is install the Google/Yandex search link fix and you’re good to go. Easy.

Are you a Google Chrome user, or a Firefox user who prefers Greasemonkey scripts to extensions? Don’t track me Google is a script for exactly this purpose.

Installing on Firefox with Greasemonkey is simple: just click “Install” and you’re good to go.

Chrome users will need to do some extra work, because Google recently changed the way extensions and scripts not offered in the Chrome Web Store can be installed. You’re going to need to click the “Install” button on the script’s page; doing so will download the script. Open the “Extensions” page in Chrome’s settings, then browse to the downloaded script in your file browser. Drag the script to the Extensions page and you’ll see a dialogue that looks like this:

copy google links

You’ve now installed the plugin. This used to be easy, and I’m annoyed, but let’s save that for another article.

The Result

Still with me? Great. Let’s type that same search again and see how our URL looks:

copy links from google

Fan-friggin-tastic! Copy that URL, secure in the knowledge that all URLs you copy from Google will now be garbage-free. Good job.

The Conclusion

It occurs to me this might be the sort of problem only bloggers have: we spend a lot of our time copying links from Google so we can use them in articles.

I tend to write about tools I myself find useful, but I’m curious: does anyone else find this useful? Let me know what you used it for in the comments below. Thanks!

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