Shortening urls

Every web page you visit has a uniform resource locator (url) in the address bar. For instance, to visit my site, you would type my site’s url in the address bar, like so: www.luigibenetton.com.

Each url can be a “folder path” not unlike the ones you use in Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. Take the following example:

http://www.apple.com/ca/ipod-touch/design/

This url tells me several things:

  • the main site is apple.com
  • it’s the Canadian (/ca) version of the site
  • I’m looking at information for one of Apple’s products (/ipod-touch)
  • I’m viewing the page that explains the /design/ of the iPod Touch

You could type this url, but it’s a bit long to simply remember. It’s also likely to “wrap around” a line in an email.

This url, while also logical, is even longer:

https://discussions.apple.com/community/servers_enterprise_software/os_x_server

This url stretches credulity, yet there are millions of them on the web:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/09/25/kelly-mcparland-pat-martin-and-mike-duffy-twins-with-different-masters/

Rather than send such a long url to people, you can use url shorteners to reduce these urls to, in some cases, less than ten characters.

Check out this video for an explanation of url shorteners. It shows web-based shorteners you can use in any browser and mentions extensions that you can use with a browser. Such extensions/add-ons are available for all major browsers.

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