Q: I think URL shorteners are heading the way of the dodo. Take goo.gl for instance. Justify their existence!

A: The fact that Google is killing off its URL shortener should in no way indicate the direction of the field as a whole. If we look back at all of the products Google has killed off over the years (bit.ly/2JD1E5A), see what I did there?) you would think that RSS feeds, video chat, Wikipedia, online conferencing and social networking would all be a thing of the past. Google is a business and that just isn’t where they are making their money.

But, if you were in the market for a new URL shortener for some reason, that we can help you out with. But first, let’s recall why shorteners came to be in the first place. In a nutshell, URLs to a specific resource can be long. Sometimes they can exceed a thousand characters.

While copying and pasting from the address bar is easy enough, visually, a long URL is very distracting. Also, popular services like Twitter, which limit the number of characters in their messages, demand the use for URL shortening.

Side benefits, if one takes the time to register with these services, is that content publishers can track how frequently their shortened links are being clicked and by whom. Don’t worry, we don’t do that here so click away on bit.ly/2mwMGoB.

A downside of URL shortening is that you never really know what is on the other end. Case in point, the URL above. But that is really not that big of a concern, as you can use a URL expander to preview what the shortened URL is before you proceed. Some URL expanders that are available for your abuse are: urlex.org, urlexpander.net, linkexpander.com, checkshorturl.com and wheredoesthislinkgo.com, which naturally gives rise to bit.ly/1eTs9Qd.

As you can tell, the shortener we officially use here at PropellerHead Central is the venerable bitly (bitly.com). The other old-timer in this business is TinyURL (tinyurl.com). Just a quick comparison indicates bitly has more polish than TinyURL, but also produces URLs a whopping five characters shorter than TinyURL, (e.g. tinyurl.com/hz34wlo).

Another shortener you can use without having to register for the service is http://is.gd,which beats bitly by one whole character (is.gd/RGe8YT). There’s also http://bit.do, which is actually pretty cool as it also generates a QR code of the URL for you, AND beats bitly by two whole characters (bit.do/erWyP). Others include http://tiny.cc, which makes it annoyingly difficult to copy short URLs (tiny.cc/8e9qvy), and http://soo.gd, which also offers a QR code, with attitude (soo.gd/tO3V)

One URL shortener service, that isn’t really a shortener, but rather a fun way to make links look scary, is ShadyURL.com. They make any link look nefarious. Just check out: www.5z8.info/–INITIATE-CREDIT-CARD-XFER–_o2r6gj_awesome-real-life-headshots if you dare.

So shorten away. Of course there is no other way we could end this article but with this bit.ly/1f1qiJa. Enjoy your day!