3 Not-So-Obvious But Totally Awesome Uses Of Xenu Link Sleuth For Webmasters

Ann Smarty 06-07-2010

xenu link sleuthXenu Link Sleuth (TM) (Windows-only) is one of the best-known webmaster tools. It helps find broken links throughout your site to fix the errors and offers your users a better experience. On top of all, it is free (and can be used for large websites like MUO as well).


That being said, the most obvious application of Xenu Link Sleuth is to use it to find broken links. You are equipped with various tools such as excluding some folders, restricting it to internal folders only and setting the number of retries for failed links, etc.

It’s been described a lot, you can for example read the official FAQ to get an idea.

What I am going to talk about here are 3 other, less obvious ways to take advantage of the tool.

1. Find Huge Images & Files

While making your pages easier to remember, images affect your load time and hence user experience. Therefore finding your largest images and optimizing them is one of the first things to do if you are going to improve your site’s usability and rankings.

To locate the largest images, run the general crawl for your site and then sort the table by “SIZE” column. This will bring up the largest files linked from your site pages:


Filter by size

Tip: if you right-click on any line, you will be able to access “Properties” to see which page exactly (hot)links to a file or an image:

xenu link sleuth

2. Generate A List Of Valid Links

After Xenu finishes crawling a site, it generates a report that contains the list of valid URLs:

  • The list of plain URLs;
  • The list of linked titles reflecting the site structure:

List of valid URLs

Tip: If you want to only crawl internal pages (and have them in your HTML map), uncheck “Check External Links” when adding your URL to crawl:

Check Internal URLs only

3. Find The Deepest-Buried Pages

If you run a huge (possibly dynamic or database-driven) website, it is so easy to lose track of some of your pages. Some of them are gold, yet they are buried so deep in your site structure that no one will ever discover them.


Want to unveil the potential of those lost pages? Then sort your site crawl results by “Level” column to find those pages:

xenu link sleuth

Tip: If you can’t access the page but you want to know how valuable the content there is, right-click on an URL to get instant access to Google Cache and Internet Archive;

Bonus: Quick Tips

Some essential tips every Xenu user should now:

  • To save the whole table to Excel, export it to TAB separated file (located in FILE menu);
  • If you see too many pages failed or timed-out, decrease the number of parallel threads (Navigate Options -> Preferences) – the tool will work slower but will have fewer errors.
  • Retry broken link using the FILE menu (or CTRL+R shortcut);
  • Don’t forget to save the Xenu file to be able to get back to it any time to re-crawl or re-try broken links;
  • Find redirected pages (keep “Treat redirections as errors” in the crawl preferences:

Xenu settings

Do you use the Xenu Link Sleuth for anything else besides finding broken links? Share your tips!

Related topics: Online Security, Webmaster Tools.

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  1. Gem Webb
    March 4, 2016 at 3:12 am

    But why doesn't the program given an option to export as CSV or excel? Would be so much better!

  2. Hector M.
    July 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Yay! i think this just saved me an hour of work. I just run it on one of my site and it found a few broken links. Thanks.

  3. Hector M.
    July 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Yay! i think this just saved me an hour of work. I just run it on one of my site and it found a few broken links. Thanks.

  4. Dan Taylor
    July 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I find xenu one of the most powerful free tools in my arsenal. From finding broken links, duplicate page titles and the three mentioned above - a really great tool.

  5. Aibek
    July 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Hey Ann, thanks for the tips. I tried Xenu in the past but had no idea that I could use the tool to identify huge images or deep buried pages. Now I like tool even more.