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.)

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.

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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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Comments (39)
  • John Prokos

    You can install these scripts on Safari using a Safari extension called Ninjakit.

  • Mr.Gurgle

    Thanks but it doesn’t seem to work with chrome anymore. Oh well I found another way using chrome, just click on click Ctrl+Shift+I then you’ll see a magnification glass-icon in the bottom toolbar, click that, then left-click on the link you’d like to open or copy paste.
    Now you can see the HTML-code for the link, and it should look like this: <a href="http://www.supersecret.com/google-hidding&quot; ….

    Left-click on that link to open the page directly without going through google or right click and copy paste it.

  • Brian

    When I need to share an URL, I just use Bing. I can’t be bothered with this on Chrome.

  • roland

    I don’t get this solution going for chrome, google refuses me to do the installl:

    “Adding extensions from other websites
    We’re constantly looking out for ways to make your browsing safer. To that end, we recently changed the way you add extensions that are not in the Chrome Web Store to your browser. Previously, any website could prompt you to add an extension into your browser. In the latest version of Google Chrome, you must explicitly tell Chrome that you want to install these extensions by adding them through the Extensions page.

    Why the change?

    To help keep you safe on the web, we have started analyzing every extension that is uploaded to the Web Store and take down those we recognize to be malicious. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to take down malicious items promoted on other websites. For instance, online hackers may create websites that automatically trigger the installation of malicious extensions. Their extensions are often designed to secretly track the information you enter on the web, which the hackers can then reuse for other ill-intended purposes.

    The updated installation process prevents websites from automatically triggering unauthorized extension installations and gives you more control over the extensions you’re adding to Chrome.”

    • Justin Pot

      There are instructions above for getting around this, and they work. Read the installation section again! :)

    • roland

      The point is I don’t see the script appearing on the extensions page…

    • Justin Pot

      Did you download the file and drag it to the open extensions page? Because I just tested this on the most recent stable version of Chrome and that still works.

    • roland

      Sorry, missed the draggin part… Works!

  • David Wosnitza (@_druu)

    I maybe a bit late for this, but if you’re not a fan of Installing extensions, here’s a little bookmarklet that does the same trick.

    https://gist.github.com/3901226

    Cheers

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.