If you’ve ever copied and pasted a web link that was so long it spanned multiple lines (and broke in the process) then you’ll appreciate a URL shortening service that generates a much shorter link that’s easier to share and more likely to work, even on phones and tablets.

There are a few established players, but Google has announced that it will shut down its goo.gl URL shortening service on 30 March 2019. And from 13 April 2018 only existing users will be able to create short links using the service.

That means those who use it already can continue for a year – albeit without any support from Google – but should look for an alternative and stop using goo.gl sooner than that.

Fortunately, there are several great alternatives to goo.gl which are also completely free to use.

Bit.ly

Bit.ly is one of the best-known URL shorteners because so many people use it. Individuals can use it for free, but businesses and brands will probably want to use the paid-for service. That’s because bit.ly offers a range of services from custom branded short URLs to analytics and APIs for deep-linking into mobile apps.

Sign up for a bit.ly account.

 Best URL shorteners

Tinyurl.com

Tiny URL doesn’t have a polished shop front like Bit.ly, but it’s preferable for many people because it doesn’t force you to create an account before you can generate links.

Nope. All you have to do is copy your long link, go to tinyurl.com and paste it into the box there and click the ‘Make TinyURL!’ button to get your link.

Best of all, there’s a box where you can type in the URL you’d like to appear after http://tinyurl.com/ such as ‘greatcurryplace’.

So long as no-one has already used it, that’s what your link will be. Custom short URLs for free, and with no sign-up required. What’s not to like?

 Best URL shorteners

Ow.ly

Ow.ly used to be like Tinyurl, but now you need a Hootsuite account to use it. Both the account and the shortening service are free, but there are paid-for upgrades if you want more than the basic URL shortening features.

Ow.ly is more like Bit.ly than Tinyurl, though, as it also offers basic analytics. However, it’s more attractive for individuals because Hootsuite is a social media management app and allows you to connect three social profiles even with the free account.

You can sign up for an Hootsuite account.

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