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Type of site
URL shortening
OwnerTinyURL LLC
Created byKevin Gilbertson
RevenueDonations, Advertising
Total assetsIncrease US$30.33 million (2018)[1]
Alexa rankDecrease 7,083 (April 2018)[2]
LaunchedJanuary 2002; 17 years ago (2002-01)[3]
Current statusActive

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[3] as a way to post links in newsgroup postings which frequently had long, cumbersome addresses.


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.

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 be written down, remembered or distributed. 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]


Similar services[edit]

The popularity of TinyURLs influenced the creation of at least 100 similar websites.[5] 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.[6] 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.[3][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How much is tinyurl.com worth?". Worth of Web. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  2. ^ "Tinyurl.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  3. ^ a b c Katie Dean (March 16, 2004). "Honey, I Shrunk the URL". Wired. 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.
  4. ^ "How to Preview Shortened URLs (TinyURL, bit.ly, is.gd, and more)". 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  5. ^ 90+ URL Shortening Services, Mashable.Com, 8 January 2008, page 84
  6. ^ Weisenthal, Joe (May 6, 2009). "Twitter Switches from TinyURL to Bit.ly". Business Insider. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  7. ^ New Scientist, vol. 179, issue 2404, 19 July 2003, page 84