How to Shorten a URL Link for Easier Online Sharing

  • You can shorten a URL using a URL shortener website, which will shorten your URL for free.
  • There are dozens of URL shortening websites, but Bitly and TinyURL are some of the most common.
  • Here’s how to shorten any URL link using one of these free websites.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference Library for more stories.

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

This is why URL shorteners are so common; they allow you to take a long, cumbersome URL and convert it to 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 and full web address. The person clicking on the short URL doesn’t need to know anything about the fact that it was shortened; it happens automatically.

There are many web shortcuts to choose from. For years, one of the most popular has been Google’s URL shortener at goo.gl. Google ended support for this 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 with 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 custom short URLs that resemble your business name. This is great for branding.

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 of your shortened URLs and how often they’ve been clicked. This is handy for managing the short URLs you create.

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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.

2. Open little in your web browser.

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

4. Click “Copy” to enter the new URL.

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Creating a shortened URL in Bitly is as easy as copying and pasting.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider


How to shorten a URL with TinyURL

TinyURL is another common shortener. Unlike Bitly, however, it’s completely free – there’s no paid subscription version – and it doesn’t have a dashboard option. This simplicity makes it a favorite for people who need to create a short URL quickly and easily.

Just note that since it’s free, there are a lot of ads on the site. You may want to install an ad blocker before visiting.

Here’s how to use TinyURL:

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 it tiny” field.

4. If you want your shortened URL to include a specific phrase, enter it in the “Custom Alias” field. Or you can leave the field blank and let Tinyurl create a random web address for you.

5. Click on “Create a 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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TinyURL doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it will create a short URL with just one click.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider


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