How to shorten a URL to make it easily shareable on social media and other websites

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How to shorten a URL to make it easily shareable on social media and other websites
There are a number of free URL shorteners available online.Altayb/Getty Images
  • You can shorten a URL by using an URL shortener website, which will shrink your URL for free.
  • There are dozens of URL shortener websites, but Bitly and TinyURL are among the most common.
  • Here's how to shorten any URL link using one of these free websites.

URLs can get long and unwieldy. The average web address is too complicated to type by hand, and URLs tend to look terrible when typed out in full. And if you're trying to include an URL in a Twitter post, you're going to use up most of your character limit.

That's why URL shorteners are so common; they let you take a long and cumbersome URL and convert it into a compact web address with just a few clicks.

When you use a URL shortener, the service automatically redirects your shortened URL to the correct, full-length web address. The person clicking the short URL doesn't need to know anything about the fact that it has been shortened; it just happens automatically.

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There are a lot of web shorteners to choose from. For years, one of the most popular was Google's URL shortener at goo.gl. Google ended support for that tool in 2019.

Instead, here's how to shorten a URL using two of the most common web shorteners today.

How to shorten a URL using Bitly

You can create shortened URLs for free using Bitly, or subscribe to Bitly's premium service starting at $29 per month. The advantage of a paid Bitly account is that you can create personalized short URLs that resemble the name of your company. This is great for branding.

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Even if you don't need the benefits of a paid account, you can create a free Bitly account that gives you access to a dashboard that tracks all your shortened URLs, and how often they've been clicked. It's convenient for managing short URLs you create.

How to shorten a URL to make it easily shareable on social media and other websites
Bitly's dashboard is available for free and keeps track of all the URLs you create.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

Here's how to shorten a URL.

1. Copy the URL you want to shorten.

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2. Open Bitly in your web browser.

3. Paste the URL into the "Shorten your link" field and click "Shorten."

4. Click "Copy" to grab the new URL.

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How to shorten a URL to make it easily shareable on social media and other websites
Creating a shortened URL in Bitly is as simple as copying and pasting.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

How to shorten a URL using TinyURL

TinyURL is another common shortener. Unlike Bitly, though, it's completely free - there's no paid subscription version - and it has no dashboard option. This simplicity makes it a favorite for people who need to make a short URL quickly and easily.

Just note that since it's free, there's a lot of advertisements on the site. You might want to install an adblocker before visiting.

Here's how to use TinyURL:

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1. Copy the URL you want to shorten.

2. Open TinyURL in your web browser.

3. Paste the URL into the "Enter a long URL to make tiny" field.

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4. If you would like your shortened URL to include a specific phrase, enter that in the "Custom alias" field. Or you can leave the field blank and let Tinyurl create a random web address for you.

QUICK TIP: Every custom URL has to be unique, so you might have to try a few variations before you find one that works.

5. Click "Make TinyURL!"

6. On the next page, TinyURL will display the new, shortened URL. Click "Copy to clipboard" to use the URL.

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How to shorten a URL to make it easily shareable on social media and other websites
TinyURL doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it'll make a short URL with a single click.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

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