With the burst in the popularity of social media sites over the past few years, massive amounts of people have started using URL shortening services like TinyURL to create small links that don’t contain too many characters. This is how it works: say you have a really long, ugly URL like this one…

http://www.amazon.com/JVC-FX34-GN-Marshmallow-Headphones-ear/dp/B001PPQJVI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1286846958&sr=1-2

…and say you want to put that URL into a Twitter status to show off to your friends. The only problem is that the URL is 129 characters long, and you only have 140 characters available in your Twitter status! This means that you only have 11 characters to write as a description of the URL, and as we all know, this would never do.

Enter the URL shortener.

URL shorteners do exactly what it sounds like – they simply take your URL and make a shorter version of it for you to use instead of the original. So, if we took the above long URL and put it through a shortening service, we would get something like this:

http://shrt.st/o49

Much shorter and easier to remember! And it leaves plenty of space in your Tweet to describe what’s in the link.

The Problem

There’s just one problem with URL shortening services, and that is that after a ton of people have used them, the URLs get longer and longer until they don’t really shorten your URL much anymore. For example, if I put a URL through the TinyURL service, I will get something like this:

http://tinyurl.com/2fn2vo8

Sure, that URL is shorter than the original one, but it is still a good 26 characters long. How can you solve this problem? There is only one way – find a new service that hasn’t been used as much, and still has short URLs.

Below I have put together a list of five such URL shortening services, so that you can create super short URLs without worrying about extra characters. Under each heading I put what you get when you put the above Amazon URL through their service, and how long it is.

➡.ws

http://➡.ws/⌘瞂 – 14 characters!

This service (tinyarro.ws) uses Unicode characters to create virtually the smallest URLs possible.

Tweak

http://loyg4.tk – 15 characters.

Tweak actually creates a custom domain name for your URL, meaning that there are no “trailing characters” in it like other services.

3.ly

http://3.ly/B3uv – 16 characters.

0.mk

http://0.mk/b8027 – 17 characters.

That’s a zero (0), not an ‘o’.

j.mp

http://j.mp/b1WGIc – 18 characters.

j.mp uses this save service as bit.ly, which means that you can get statistics and click data on your shortened URLs.

is.gd

http://is.gd/fYDuU – 18 characters.

a.gd

http://a.gd/cf3dbd – 18 characters.