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When I see a shortened URL, I'm always hesitant to click it because I don't know where the link is going to go. (In the worst case, it may lead to an XSS exploit against a site that I'm logged in to)

How can I tell where the link is going to go?

For example, if I see a link to http://tinyurl.com/3yjnm7y I can go to http://preview.tinyurl.com/3yjnm7y and see where the link is going to send me.

How can I do the same for other popular URL shortening services (like bit.ly or goo.gl)?

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URLs converted by Twitter's link service are checked against a list of potentially dangerous sites, and when there's a match, users will be warned before they continue - according to this link support.twitter.com/articles/78124-how-to-shorten-links-urls –  mvark Sep 14 '13 at 15:12

8 Answers 8

up vote 13 down vote accepted

You could use a service like Unshorten

Services supported: TinyURL.com, SnipURL.com, NotLong.com, Metamark.net, zURL.ws and many others.

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1  
your link to Unshorten has an extra "Blockquote" on the end of it, causing a 404 when you click on it. –  Jared Harley Jun 30 '10 at 21:17
    
@Jared: I fixed it, thank you :) –  Victor Stanciu Jun 30 '10 at 21:47

There is a Firefox Addon and a Google Chrome extension that do this for you. Seems to me that one shouldn't have to click to find out -- the addons allow you to mouse-over to see the full URL.

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this is great but sometimes we have only link that we want to learn and it is not on a web page... –  spinodal Jul 9 '10 at 12:49
    
The Chrome extension link is broken :-( –  Ben Collins Nov 5 '13 at 0:45

With goo.gl, you can add .info at the end of the shortened URL.

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One option would be to open the link in Google Chrome's incognito mode; even if the link is malicious, it won't have access to your cookies. This isn't foolproof however; the link could be crafted to hide any errors if you're not logged in.

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You can take any bit.ly link and add a + symbol to the end to see stats and details about the link. For example, I just found this link in my Twitter feed

http://bit.ly/91X2Kw

if I add a + I end up at

http://bit.ly/91X2Kw+

which tells me the links will send me to

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/extra-extra-google-news-redesigned-to.html

In the more general case you'll want to look for a browser plugin which unshortens links.

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great tip/trick, thanks.... only works for bit.ly, hope others will implement the same thing –  spinodal Jul 9 '10 at 12:50

There are a number of URL expanders which should work for many of the 'better' URL shortening services out there - such as LongURL. Many shortening providers do not have this preview functionality which you refer to in the question built in which means that these third party expanders are required.

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Rather than try to modify the URL to see where it goes (which might not tell you much anyway), open it in another browser (for example Arora is a very simple on) in which you aren't logged-into those sites.

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That seems a little dangerous. What if there are viruses? –  John Saunders Jul 25 '10 at 18:37

I wrote a Google Mobilizer bookmarklet that lets links on your Twitter timeline (or any webpage) be opened with Google Mobilizer.

This lets you see minimalist, text-only content related to those pages from a proxy Google server so you don't have to fear about contracting malware from dubious links or running into security issues.

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