Snip, Trim, & Make a Shorter, Tiny, Baby URL

You’ve probably seen those cryptic URLs like http://snipurl.com/ae20 (not a valid link) in an e-mail or somewhere on the Web. Did you ever wonder where they come from and how they work?

They come from free services like snipurl.com, trimurl.com, and makeashorterlink.com. Other popular ones are tinyurl.com and babyurl.com. I found 27 of them; there are probably many more than that.

These services take a long URL like this:

http://www.someURL.com?

data=mQGiBDmK/l0RBACBDATsOLY9P
gHf83/FR0C0cXkH16BvKZ8sYhqYkEM
NF5riM1XqWmrSOZL5fwxKqmlgZW/EJ
42jmDO+lyhpRJuJq1LLDcETysTutXH
bzB9tJ8i5VKCBbAmKioldP33h6TY+x
S7EqXtrwCgpe2u6oZymO8k7ny9Y/Rb
8UA6vDcD/i20d7dgE3VJzfeB117e72
T+BWFmKJkXXAoxhxWMBJd2s9ER309x
lWDRaAzYBRWg+d3unXpAxgQ0r+xyZI
lx7mHA6qiIP92mXIIQwMYYt5RHl82T
St1jyUcgANfuO1aFavkfGzvoh3hi8h
O2Hn1Xtd2ZuztSlujfgg1W01o9

and turn it into an abbreviated version like the one in the first paragraph. Why? Well, how would you like to type in that long URL? Even if you didn’t mind the typing, do you think you could do it without error? You could, of course, cut and paste it, but if you send it to someone in an e-mail, it probably won’t work as a clickable link – the line breaks inserted by the e-mail client will result in an invalid URL. Besides, the short version just looks nicer.

These mini URLs (yes, miniurl.com is another one) work on the World Wide Web like call forwarding works on your telephone. When you click the shortened URL, you are forwarded to the actual URL stored in a database at the service’s Web site, just like a telephone call is forwarded to the number you programmed on your phone.

If you want to learn more about some of the features available from these sites, check out this Web page. If you want a more in-depth explanation, see this page.

You can have some fun with these things, too. Most of them generate a short sequence of characters that they append to their name. Try a few random characters of your own and see where they take you. This page gives some examples of where you might end up. I used my name in one (http://tinurl.com/ken). It took me to a record company.

Enjoy!

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