URL shorteners such as TinyURL perform a handy service: give them a long URL, and they return a shorter URL that’s less likely to break in emails. Twitter users in particular benefit from URL shorteners because they enable shrinking a URL that would otherwise exceed Twitter’s 140-character limit.
There is, however, a downside. When you’re faced with a short URL, you have no idea where it really goes. Does it redirect to a useful site, or does it go to a phishing page? For all you know, the link could point to a porn site that pops up the kind of images that your boss wouldn’t think too highly of.
In my case, I use FeedDemon as my primary web browser, and I was tired of looking at my Twitter page and not knowing where all those TinyURLs would take me. So I decided to address this problem.
Starting with the next build of FeedDemon 2.8, mousing over a short URL will show a balloon tip which contains the long URL – so you’ll know where the link takes you before you click it. Here’s how it looks:
So far, I’ve added support for the following URL shortening services:
If you know of any popular URL shortening services that I’m missing, let me know by posting a comment here. As long as the service returns the long URL in the location header after doing a HEAD request, I should be able to support it in FeedDemon.
Update: Since originally blogging this post, I’ve added support for these services: