TinyURL is the original URL shortener. The service is very simple - take a long URL like:

http://omnomnom.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/chihuahua.jpg

and make a much tinier URL, like: http://tinyurl.com/3qyjpe. TinyURL offers several additional features that are standard for most URL shortener services, including 'preview' links (eg: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3qyjpe) and bookmarklets, so you can streamline the process of creating short URLs.

So that's all pretty simple, right? Why would you want to use one of the many copycat services? Well, as with my other round-ups this one is not going to be comprehensive. Instead, here are a selection of URL shorteners that have some genuine value add. Still too much text? Skip to the end. Enjoy.

is.gd is one of my favourites. It produces some of the shortest URLs (eg. http://is.gd/mdt). Users can see a preview page by appending a hyphen to the URL (eg. http://is.gd/mdt-). You are also free to add any hints you like, after another "/", for example: http://is.gd/mdt/meow.

snipurl, snurl or snipr.com, by contrast with is.gd, makes a simple service seem complicated. They have tons of features, and I hate to do them a disservice, but I wasn't prepared to create an account for something that is so non-critical. If you need Excel integration, RSS feeds, support forums, 'multi snips', privacy keys and tons of other features, check them out. Example url: http://snipurl.com/2atwu.

memurl tries to generate mnemonic URLS, like http://memurl.com/kepumi.

doiop.com lets you pick a keyword (provided you can find a unique one) to produce more memorable URLs: http://doiop.com/flyingrat. It seems short of other features though.

icanhaz.com does the same as doiop, but with extra LOLcat, making for some amusing URLs: http://icanhaz.com/schrodinger. You have the option of entering your email address so you can edit your URLs later, but I could see no way of logging in. Just to be safe, I would advise against it.

moourl.com's unique selling point seems to be 'cuteness'. It also has the option to personalise your URL. http://moourl.com/hownow. And it is cute!

Metamark can also generate custom URLs. A typical URL is http://xrl.us/tortoisefail, but that link will fail unless the user knows to append the password (in this case, add: -fail)

notlong.com is the only one I found that actually uses a custom subdomain, allowing you to create URLs like http://kingarthur.notlong.com. It also, by default, gives you a password to access your stats and manage the URL. One of the neater shortening services!

TweetBurner caters to the Twitter market by giving you stats associated with your account, and making it easy to tweet your twurl (!). Again, the bookmarklet simplifies the process. Typical URL: http://twurl.nl/5wucdf.

HURL.WS is hosted on Google, so won't go down unless Google does. The URLs are not the shortest (eg. http://www.hurl.ws/7y) but it does let you check how many people have clicked through one of your links by appending /hits - for example: http://www.hurl.ws/7y/hits.

urlTea is open source and has some extra funkyness. Typical URL: http://urltea.com/38vd. You can also append descriptive info to the URL after a question mark, http://urltea.com/38vd?like_this.

Finally, LinkBunch does something a bit different and creates a short URL for multiple links: http://linkbun.ch/dw1. It does mean that users have to be routed through a special linkbun.ch page, but there are many useful applications that make this compromise worthwhile.

In conclusion...

Use is.gd to keep it simple and short. Use Tweetburner if you use Twitter. Use notlong if you want the URL to look semi-professional.

3 comments:

http://tr.im is my favorite. They include free basic stats for click through.

November 4, 2008 at 3:17 AM  

xrl.cc is very simple too

January 6, 2009 at 6:02 AM  

Another great URL shortener is thurly (http://thurly.net). Works really well and is a very clean design. Also has an API for use in apps.

February 25, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

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