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)?


12 Answers 12


You could use a service like Unshorten

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


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

Example: http://goo.gl/l6MS.info

  • 2
    Even easier: add the + character at the end. goo.gl/l6MS+
    – user79865
    Jan 29, 2016 at 20:11

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


if I add a + I end up at


which tells me the links will send me to


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

  • great tip/trick, thanks.... only works for bit.ly, hope others will implement the same thing
    – spinodal
    Jul 9, 2010 at 12:50

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.

  • 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, 2010 at 12:49
  • 1
    The Chrome extension link is broken :-( Nov 5, 2013 at 0:45

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.


GetLinkInfo.com purports to work with "all" URL shorteners. Just drop the link in the field and press "Get Link Info".

If found, the site responds with:

  • The title of the target page
  • The description of the target page
  • The shortened URL
  • The effective URL
  • Any redirections
  • External links
  • An assessment of the safety of the site from Google using their Safe Browsing service
  • Really useful! I had no idea this website existed. Jan 29, 2016 at 21:54

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.

  • longurl.org no longer exists
    – ale
    Apr 28, 2017 at 12:39

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.


Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer isn't specifically for unshortening URLs, but is a general purpose tool to view what an HTTP request returns. It can be used to examine what a shortened URL will redirect to.


Here is a bookmarklet that uses getlinkinfo.com: javascript:(function(){ window.open('http://www.getlinkinfo.com/info?link='+prompt('what link do you wish to get info for?'))})();

I assume that you know how to install a bookmarklet. But jic, here are the instructions: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/bookmarklets-perform-common-web-page-tasks


You can use Curl to peek at redirected URLs:

curl -I https://t.co/0BACDYaBmU

-I sends a HEAD request. Do not use -L / --location which will follow redirects. A sufficiently unique link will reveal to hosts past the redirect that it was followed (spammers could use it to get an IP address or confirm that an email address is in use). Some redirectors could reveal info about visits to interested parties anyway.


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.

  • 1
    That seems a little dangerous. What if there are viruses? Jul 25, 2010 at 18:37

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