TinyURL is a URL shortening web service, which provides short aliases for redirection of long URLs. Kevin Gilbertson, a web developer, launched the service in January 2002[2] as a way to post links in newsgroup postings which frequently had long, cumbersome addresses.

Tinyurl logo.png
Type of site
URL shortening
OwnerTinyURL LLC
Created byKevin Gilbertson
RevenueDonations, Advertising
Alexa rankDecrease 7,083 (April 2018)[1]
LaunchedJanuary 2002; 18 years ago (2002-01)[2]
Current statusActive


The TinyURL homepage includes a form which is used to submit a long URL for shortening. For each URL entered, the server adds a new alias in its hashed database and returns a short URL. According to the website, the shortened URLs will never expire.[3]

TinyURL offers an API which allows applications to automatically create short URLs. This is done by simply reading the result returned from tinyurl.com/api-create.php?url=URLENCODED_SOURCE_URL.

Short URL aliases are seen as useful because they are easier to write down, remember or distribute. They also fit in text boxes with a limited number of characters allowed. Some examples of limited text boxes are IRC channel topics, email signatures, microblogs, certain printed newspapers (such as .net magazine or even Nature), and email clients that impose line breaks on messages at a certain length.

Starting in 2008, TinyURL allowed users to create custom, more meaningful aliases. This means that a user can create descriptive URLs rather than a randomly generated address. For example, https://tinyurl.com/wp-tinyurl leads to the Wikipedia article about the website.

The ability to preview the full URL is present at TinyURL. If the user has previously enabled previews or visits a URL under preview.tinyurl.com in place of tinyurl.com, the site will display the target URL and a hyperlink to it, instead of redirecting to it automatically. This feature is not well documented at the TinyURL site, but the alternative shortened URL with preview capability is offered as an option at the time of creation.[4]

Affiliate link hijacking controversyEdit

TinyURL has attracted criticism for a lack of transparency in its publicity and own terms of use. When its service is used for shortening affiliate links from online retailers such as Amazon, TinyURL replaces the user's referral ID with one of its own, thus claiming any commission from the link engagement.[3][5]


Similar servicesEdit

The popularity of TinyURLs influenced the creation of at least 100 similar websites.[6] Most are simply domain alternatives while some offer additional features.


People posting on Twitter often made extensive use of shortened URLs to keep their tweets within the service-imposed 140 character limit. Twitter used TinyURL until 2009, before switching to bit.ly.[7] Now Twitter uses its own t.co domain for this purpose. Though Twitter has extended its limit to 280 characters, it automatically shortens links longer than 31 characters using its t.co domain.


The TinyURL method of allocating shorter web addresses has inspired an action known as TinyURL-whacking. Random letters and numbers can be placed after the first forward slash in an attempt to hit interesting sites without knowing what they will be.[2][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tinyurl.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Archived from the original on 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  2. ^ a b c Katie Dean (March 16, 2004). "Honey, I Shrunk the URL". Wired. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016. So the 24-year-old Web developer from Blaine, Minnesota, launched TinyURL.com in January 2002, a free site that converts huge strings of characters into more manageable snippets.
  3. ^ a b [www.tinyurl.com/#terms (site on Wikipedia blacklist) "Terms of use"] Check |url= value (help). TinyURL.com.
  4. ^ "How to Preview Shortened URLs (TinyURL, bit.ly, is.gd, and more)". 2009-04-11. Archived from the original on 2014-03-25. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  5. ^ "Tinyurl.com replacing associate IDs!". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  6. ^ 90+ URL Shortening Services Archived 2008-08-30 at the Wayback Machine, Mashable.Com, 8 January 2008, page 84
  7. ^ Weisenthal, Joe (May 6, 2009). "Twitter Switches from TinyURL to Bit.ly". Business Insider. Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  8. ^ New Scientist, vol. 179, issue 2404, 19 July 2003, page 84