As we read articles on the web, there are often links to other web sites or other web pages. We click on the link and our web browser takes us to the new page.
However, when we want to send a link to a someone else by email, we copy and paste the long link into an email. Sometimes, it works. Other times, our email programs — or a mailing list program if we’re mailing to a Yahoo! Group or a mailing list — will break the link by wrapping part of it to the next line.
The long line breaks because these programs usually insert a carriage return after 72 plain-text characters (or so) so that people reading plain-text versions can read them without scrolling horizontally. Sometimes, the programs send an email that contains both HTML and plain-text versions.
TinyURL.com and other similar sites solve that problem by allowing third parties (like us) to use their site for redirection. The process is easy. You fill in the input box on tinyurl.com and click the button marked Make TinyURL!
Let’s look at a simple example: our goal is to create a TinyURL link to an article with a long title at Terry’s Computer Tips.
We’ll use my article Malware Silently Alters Router Settings – Change Your Router Passwords!, which is on the page http://www.terryscomputertips.com/computers/malware-silently-alters-router-settings-change-your-router-passwords.php (surely that’s long enough to break in text email programs).
Using TinyURL.com, we paste the long URL in the input box and click on the Make TinyURL button. The result is a short URL to take you to that article:
I designed a similar system for my Terry’s Computer Tips site, which looks like this http://terryscomputertips.com?u552590. This link will take you to the same article.