Use trim to shorten URLs

January - 2009

There are a few tools out there that let you take a long URL and turn it into a short one. One that I've used in the past is, but I've recently found another service at For a shortening service, that's about as short a name as you can get. Bonus for the fact that it makes sense and applies to what they do. To use, all you have to do is copy a long URL from the address bar, paste it into the box on their home page and hit the "!" button. They'll take your long URL like:

and turn it into something like this: The trimmed URL is much easier to deal with in email messages and status updates.

The service provides an additional tracking services as well. Each time someone uses one of your trimmed URLs, the browser will bounce through their server momentarily while it figures out where to send them for the final page. The server uses this to capture stats on how your shortened URL is used. Going to back to on the same browser that you used to create the shortened URLs will show you the stats. If you create an account, you can log in and see these stats from any browser (and you won't loose the information if you clear the cookies on your machine).

There are a few concerns with the service. For one, you have to make sure you are okay with the fact that you are sending traffic through their servers. This shouldn't be an issue for anything that's not sensitive information, but it's something to think about. The other thing to think about is permanence. I'm not sure how makes money, but it surely costs them something to host the service. If you post all your links through them, but their company goes away, those links would stop working. Not a big deal in cases for things like old status messages that you'll probably never look at again. It is also possible at some point that they change the way their service works. For example, instead of immediately jumping to the destination URL, they could easily put an ad in between, or even launch a pop-up that you have no control over. It seems unlikely that they would be that aggressive, but as with any free service like this, it is worth keeping in mind that they can change the way things work at any time.