TinyURL.com is a URL shortening service that can be used to shorten long URLs into shorter ones for easier sharing. Users simply type or paste the long URL into the text box on the home page of the TinyURL site, press the Make TinyURL button, and the site returns a shortened version of the URL. When the shortened link is clicked, it is routed through the TinyURL site to the original long link. The results page gives two versions of the shortened link – a regular version and a preview version. The preview version, for those people who have this option turned on at the TinyURL site, allows users to hover their mouse over the TinyURL and the long version of the link will be shown in a pop-up text box. This allows users to see where a shortened link is taking them.
The site also attempts to copy the shortened link to the user’s Clipboard (note that this does not work on all browser/operating system configurations or if you have Flash 10 installed). The site also offers other tools, including a browser toolbar button which allows users to create a TinyURL from within their browsers while visiting a link. Pressing the bookmarklet on the site takes the user directly to the results page on the TinyURL site with the shortened link displayed. Users can also make a URL that can redirect someone to any page on their site by making a TinyURL for one of the pages, then appending a slash (/) to the TinyURL along with the page name of another page on the site.
Blaine, MN-based TinyURL.com was launched in 2002 by founder Kevin Gilbertson. The site has undergone steady growth since launch. Until May 2009, the site was the default URL shortener used by Twittr. In May 2009 Twittr changed to competitor Bit.ly. The site currently serves millions of unique monthly visitors. The site has a current Alexa page rank near the 400 mark.
Competition to TinyURL comes from services like Bit.ly and urlBorg. Bit.ly offers a similar service to TinyURL, but in addition provides usage statistics for links shortened by the site. It also offers a Twittr keyword search of all the links shortened by the site. Bit.ly does not have quite as large a userbase as TinyURL, with an Alexa page rank near the 500 mark. urlBorg offers an identical service to TinyURL, but has a much smaller userbase, with an Alexa page rank near the 700,000 mark.
The TinyURL site has a somewhat uncluttered look and feel. There are a number of links shown on most pages on the site and advertising, although relatively unobtrusive, is displayed on the site. Navigation is intuitive, with a convenient side menu bar shown on all pages of the site. Page loads are quick and the site is quite responsive.
There is no registration to the TinyURL site required or offered. Users simply use the service.
TinyURL is free to use. There is also no premium membership offered by the site.
TinyURL is recommended to anyone who shares links on the major social networking sites. It is especially useful for maximizing the number of character allowed per post such as Twittr’s 140-character limit. It also makes links much more convenient to deal with. The site can also used by those involved in affiliate programs and don’t want to give away the fact that the link is an affiliate link.