In a world of micro blogging and mega long links, URL shortening can be insanely useful. Not only can it help to simplify and save space, it can also track links and reveal how often they have been opened. But how simple is it really when you have to copy the original URL, head over to a URL shortening service, paste the link to shorten it, and copy it again to use it wherever you need it? This is where browser addons and bookmarklets for URL shortening come in: they make this process dead simple and quick.
Cutyfox is a Firefox extension ‘made in Germany’ that currently supports the URL shortening services is.gd, bit.ly, goo.gl, and mcaf.ee as well as the native URL shorteners of Flickr, YouTube, and Amazon (plus shorteners).
Per default, the extension sits to the left of the URL bar, symbolized by a pair of scissors. Clicking it will shorten the current URL and automatically copy it to the clipboard.
Via the Cutyfox Options menu, accessible through the Firefox list of extensions, the tool can be customized, for example to show the button in the address bar or status bar, to use a different shortening service, or disable the auto-copy to clipboard feature.
An alternative to Cutyfox is, a Firefox addon that supports over 100 URL shorteners. The problem is that it still lists a lot of sites that have since discontinued their service.
Google’s URL shortener is simply ingenious. Its button sits in between other installed Google Chrome extensions to the right of the smartbar. Once clicked, the URL of the present tab is shortened and automatically copied to the clipboard.
Along with a short URL, goo.gl also creates a QR code and provides further details on an information page for the short URL.
Additional options can be configured via the extension settings menu, for example adding services to share shortened URLs with, adjusting preferences, or managing keyboard shortcuts. The goo.gl URL shortener is also available in a lite version, which comes without keyboard shortcuts and context menu.
bitly (All Browsers)
To shorten a URL, click the bookmarklet and the sidebar will launch with the open tab’s URL pasted in and automatically shortened. All you have to do is click > Copy next to the shortened link. If you wish to shorten a different link, simply paste it into the URL field, click the > Shorten button, and then > Copy the URL to your clipboard.
You do not have to create an account to use bitly. However, if you do, you will be able to analyze and keep track of your links.
The above is only a small selection of the most easy and quick to use URL shorteners. There are many more services that may come in handy in special situations, for example the following ones that have also been profiled in the MakeUseOf Directory:
- Fur.ly – Shorten multiple URLs into one
The downside of URL shortening is that it can hide the revealing path to a malicious website. For this reason, we have recently introduced you to 5 Browser Extensions To Expand Shortened URLs.
How often do you use URL shortening and do you ever re-use your shortened URLs or do you just create a new short link?
Image credits: YellowPixel