How to Find Out Where Shortened URLs Go


Shortened URLs

Shortened links can lead to legitimate, safe sites or sites that aren’t safe and may harbor malware. Here are a few ways to see where those URL’s go before you click or tap on them.

Shortened links are all over – social media, email, newsletters, websites and affiliate links. Some sites, like Twitter, shorten all links posted in Tweets using their own service. Link shortening services like tinyurl and bitly are popular and anyone can create a URL using them.
How do you tell if the shortened URL link goes to a legitimate site?

One way is to use the preview function if the link shortening site offers one. Both tinyurl and bitly have preview functions that can be used from the address bar of a browser by adding a word or symbol to the shortened link.

Tinyurl: to access the preview function in Tinyurl, add the word preview between the "http://" and "tinyurl", like this:
(the link goes to our home page)

Bitly: to use the preview function in bitly, add a plus sign (+) to the end of the URL, like this:
(the link goes to our home page)

Using an online link expander is another way to check where shortened links go:
CheckShortURL supports most link shortening services, expands URLs so you can see where they lead, displays a thumbnail of the site, has options to search the site on Yahoo, Google, Bing and Twitter, and can check if the site is safe on Web Of Trust, SiteAdvisor, Google, Sucuri, Norton, and Browser Defender. Note the Browser Defender link resolves to Norton, where they would like you to buy various security services.

UnshortenIt! is another link expanding service. It expands URLs, displays a thumbnail of the site and shows ratings from Web Of Trust. Not as detailed as CheckShortURL but seems to support most link shortening services.

Shortened links are convenient and can be used to measure engagements to track how often they are used. They can lead to legitimate links or to phishing and malware sites. If a shortened link doesn't seem right, check it out using one of the above methods. Banks and other large institutions don't normally send links to customers. If you get a link in an email that looks like it came from a bank or credit card company, you can copy it and expand the link or go directly to their website to log in instead of clicking on a link.

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Ms. rhiannon,
Thank you very much - again.
You always live up to and surpass my high expectations!

And I read up on what Wikipedia has to say about your pseudonym.
Enchanting - to say the least.

Thank you for your kind words and good wishes, Happy New Year to you as well. I hope the year brings you many wonderful things. I wish the same to all the Gizmo crew and all the great people who read or visit us. :) is another one. :)

Ohhhhh I like that one, thank you!

You're welcome. :) I am sure there are more!

There are probably are. The ones I've been finding and testing this last week weren't very good. Several of them wouldn't support a few of the more well known sites like or I like the one you gave, the tracking is terrific.

Ah. :) Just got to be careful with these web sites that track your URLs. :/

Thanks. This is good stuff and while I have a couple of sites bookmarked, I did not know about the Tinyurl nor bitly shortcuts to do the same
I learned something and for that I thank you again

You're welcome. Google's URL shortener had an address bar shortcut too but they shuttered the service.