I’ve written about a variety of URL shortening utilities in the past. Some of these web browser extensions made it possible to shorten a URL using a particular service, while others enabled users to choose from a handful of services. There are many URL shortening services available on the Web today, too many to really sit back and compare them all side by side (by side by side…), but one thing I look for is longevity. Do I think a URL I shorten today using service “X” will be there tomorrow? With some services, I’m not sure. I’d like to think so, and yet if I’m wrong, a lot of links could quickly become invalid. That’s why one of my “go-to” shortening services is goo.gl which is run by Google. My thought process is that if Google ever goes under then there are worse troubles than my shortened URLs no longer being active! In this article, I’ll be discussing a Google Chrome extension called goo.gl URL Shortener that does a lot more than such a simple name would suggest.
Before I go too much further, I should probably talk about shortened URLs, and why they’re so great. Imagine a website that offers up a URL like this:
It’s not the longest URL I’ve ever seen, but it’s 91 characters long, which means if you plan on posting it to Twitter, you’d only have 49 characters left to mention what the article is about and why people should read it. But using the goo.gl URL shortening service, suddenly the long URL above can be accessed (and linked to), using the following:
That’s only 19 characters long, leaving you with 121 characters remaining in your Twitter update. Using the goo.gl URL Shortener extension for Google Chrome, it’s even better. You not only have 1-click access to goo.gl, but you get a lot of extras as well.
To use the goo.gl URL Shortener, simply visit a page you want to share or shorten, and click the little green and gray icon. A pop-up will appear, showing you the shortened URL. You also have three options below that, by default: an option to copy the URL to your computer’s clipboard, an option to see more detailed information about the shortened URL (such as the full URL, the short URL, when it was created, and how many clicks it has received), plus a link to the QR Code (for mobile phones, etc.).
In addition, the goo.gl URL Shortener has a few other features that make it even easier to share your URL. Go into the extension’s options and you’ll see a long list of different sharing services, such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Posterous, MySpace, and more. You can check off the ones you want to use, and uncheck the ones you don’t use. From then on, when you shorten a URL, you can simply click the service you want to use to share the URL, and you’ll be taken to that website, with your post already formatted. It’s a pretty handy feature, and helps the goo.gl URL Shortener extension stand out from the rest of the shortening extensions available.
The final feature the goo.gl URL Shortener offers is keyboard shortcuts. It doesn’t come with any presets by default, but every action, every service it offers, can be configured with its own keyboard shortcut. That means you can shorten the URL of your current website, copy the shortened URL to the clipboard, and share it on any of the services you use, all without moving your hands from the keyboard.
I’m pretty impressed with goo.gl URL Shortener. Not only the service, but the extension, and the integration it has with other websites. I’ve shared links via Gmail, Twitter and Facebook (and have saved URLs for later reading using Read It Later), and now with this great extension, I can do all of it simply, almost automatically, with only a couple clicks. It’s not only a great space saver, but a fantastic time saver as well.