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Sharing web links with others can be a messy business. But URL shortening services offer a free way to get a compact web address that’s easy to share and even type manually. Here are the best ones to use.
If you’ve ever copied and pasted a web link that was so long it spanned multiple lines (and broke in the process) then you’ll appreciate a URL shortening service that generates a smaller link that’s easier to share and more likely to work, even on phones and tablets.
There are a few established players, but if you were a fan of Google’s goo.gl service – officially closing its doors on 30 March 2019 – you are looking for an alternative, here are several great alternatives which are also completely free to use.
Bit.ly is one of the best-known URL shorteners because so many people use it. Individuals can use it for free, but businesses and brands will probably want to use the paid-for service. That’s because bit.ly offers a range of services from custom branded short URLs to analytics and APIs for deep-linking into mobile apps.
Tiny URL doesn’t have a polished shop front like Bit.ly, but it’s preferable for many people because it doesn’t force you to create an account before you can generate links.
Nope. All you have to do is copy your long link, go to tinyurl.com and paste it into the box there and click the ‘Make TinyURL!’ button to get your link.
Best of all, there’s a box where you can type in the URL you’d like to appear after http://tinyurl.com/ such as ‘greatcurryplace’.
So long as no-one has already used it, that’s what your link will be. Custom short URLs for free, and with no sign-up required. What’s not to like?
Ow.ly used to be like Tinyurl, but now you need a Hootsuite account to use it. Both the account and the shortening service are free, but there are paid-for upgrades if you want more than the basic URL shortening features.
Ow.ly is more like Bit.ly than Tinyurl, though, as it also offers basic analytics. However, it’s more attractive for individuals because Hootsuite is a social media management app and allows you to connect three social profiles even with the free account.
You can sign up for an Hootsuite account.