Shortened URLs are a great way to save space when it really matters. If you want to share a link via Twitter, you don’t want to use the majority of your 140 characters with a lengthy URL. This is precisely why services such as TinyURL are so popular, but there is a downside to URL shorteners — you do not know where you are going to end up when you click that link.
While the majority of shortened links will be accompanied by a description that helps you to correctly identify the type of site you’re about to visit, this is not always the case. When you click a shortened URL, you have no real way of knowing whether you are visiting a new website, a video site, or something more malicious. This is where URL X-ray can help.
This handy site enables you to check the full URL of the site that will load when you click a shortened version – it might not be able to tell you exactly what you’re about to see, but it will give you a better idea of whether it is safe an genuine.
When you encounter a shortened URL, carefully highlight it (take care that you don’t accidentally click it and visit the site prematurely) and copy it to the clipboard. Then open up a new browser tab, pay a visit to the URL X-ray site and paste the address into the empty text box.
Press Enter or click the X-ray button and you’ll be shown the full URL of the link.
This is simple enough, but you can make things even easier by adding a bookmarklet to your web browser. Pay a visit to the X-ray bookmarklet page to get started.
If you’re using Internet Explorer, right click the URL X-ray bookmarklet link and select Add to favorites. In other web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, you can simply drag and drop this link onto your bookmark toolbar.
Now when you want to check a URL, there’s no need to copy and paste. Just highlight the link, click the bookmarklet you have created an URL X-ray will appear as a popup letting you know the full address.