With the invention of the twitter like microblogging services, the fashion of using shortened URLs was brought forth. Although, there are hundreds of such URL shortening services like goo.gl, bit.ly, tinyurl, mcaf.ee etc., yet we hear everyday of some new URL shortening service to come into existence. These shortened URLs have their own benefits as they save the space used in your comments (specially in social networks like twitter which limit the number of characters you can type in each tweet). But still these shortened URLs are dreaded as no-one can foretell where they would redirect you. Suppose you click on a shortened URL – how would you tell if it takes you to some attack web site and starts installing malware on your computer. For reasons like this, advanced users like to expand the shortened URLs with special tools. If you want, then you can also automatically expand shortened URLs with free the LongURL service.
Using the LongURL online service is very easy and straightforward. Just visit the LongURL web site and type in the short URL and click on the Expand button. In a few seconds you would be shown the expanded URL to which the orginal short URL was actually pointing to. Now you can look at this URL and decide for yourself whether you want to visit this web site or not.
The LongURL free short URL expansion service currently (at the time of writing this article) supports around 339 URL shortening services. This means that you would have a hard time finding a short URL that LongURL service fails to expand.
If you do not want to visit the LongURL web site again and again to expand a short URL, then you would find the LongURL extension for Mozilla Firefox browser interesting. After installing this extension, if you hover your mouse cursor over a short link, then a popup would appear showing you the expanded URL and other details. If you have Google Chrome or Opera browsers then you can use the GreaseMonkey script for the LongURL service.
So if you want to save yourself from the dangers hidden behind the tiny short URLs, then give the LongURL service a try. You can either use it on their web site to expand a selected short URL, or even better – install it in your browser to auto-expand all the short URLs on a page.
You can visit the LongURL web site at : http://longurl.org/. You can find the links to the Mozilla Firefox extension and the GreaseMonkey scripts at http://longurl.org/tools.