How to Check if a TinyURL Is Safe (2023)

By David Sarokin Updated April 24, 2019

TinyURL is an online URL shortener service. It takes a long link that may be many dozens of characters in length, and it turns it into a relatively tiny link. The shorter link is easier to handle, but it can also mask the identity of the site that the link leads to. If you are uncertain of the reliability of a TinyURL link, you can take steps to check the link's safety.

Tiny URLs, Big Problems

When TinyURL shortens a long web address, it creates a link in the form of letters and numbers that look nothing like the original. A short link may in fact lead to a scam website or one loaded with spyware, viruses or inappropriate content. Even if you trust the person sending you the link, it's safer to check it first before clicking on it.

(Video) How to See What's Behind a TinyURL Without Clicking On It

How TinyURL Works

TinyURL is a link shortener. Let's say you start with a very long link that looks like this:


After entering the long URL into the text box, the URL shortener converts it to a tiny link, or at least, a tinier link:


Long URLs can be very difficult to type by hand; any mistake will take you to the wrong page or none at all. A shortened link such as the example above is much easier to type.

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TinyURL users can also customize the shortened link. For example:


If someone sends you a TinyURL link and you are unsure of its credibility, there are a few ways to check the link safely.

Use the TinyURL Preview Function

Before clicking an unknown TinyURL link, head to the TinyURL website or a similar site. On the left side, you'll see a menu of site options. Click on Preview Feature and then click on Click here to enable previews. This will place a cookie on your computer that will display the original link to you when you click a TinyURL rather than sending you directly to the site. Once you see the original URL, you can decide whether to click through to the final destination site.

The "Preview_"_ function will work for all future TinyURL links that you use, as long as the feature remains enabled.

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Add Preview to the Link

If you don't want to enable the TinyURL cookie, you can add the word "preview" to the TinyURL to display the original link. If your TinyURL is:


add the word "preview" before ".tinyurl":


to safely display the original URL without the need to go to the actual site.

(Video) How to access links from URL shorteners like bit ly and tinyurl com that are blocked at your school

Use a URL Decoder

There are several services online that will decode a TinyURL for you. For example, will take a TinyURL and "unravel" it so you can see the original URL.


Other URL shorteners are available online in addition to TinyURL. Services like TrueURL will decode these other URLs as well; whereas, the TinyURL preview only works for TinyURL links.


Decoding a TinyURL shows you the original site address. But this information alone is no guarantee the link is safe to click on. Use the same precaution for a decoded TinyURL link as you would for any unfamiliar site that you are visiting on the internet.

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How do I know if a TinyURL link is safe? ›

add the word "preview" before ". tinyurl": to safely display the original URL without the need to go to the actual site.

How do you check a link if it's safe? ›

Use a website safety checker

To find out if a link is safe, just copy/paste the URL into the search box and hit Enter. Google Safe Browsing's URL checker will test the link and report back on the site's legitimacy and reputation in just seconds. It's that easy to use Google's URL scanner.

Should I click on a TinyURL link? ›

TinyURL5 is actually a phishing website that triggers push notifications and different types of pop-up windows on your devices. If you click these pop-up windows by mistake, the website will start taking your information and forward it to other users who can misuse it for their purpose.

Is TinyURL com reliable? ›

Overview. TinyURL has a consumer rating of 4.73 stars from 41 reviews indicating that most customers are generally satisfied with their purchases. TinyURL ranks 2nd among Url Shortener sites.

What is the safest URL shortener? ›

The 7 best URL shortener services
  • Bitly for the best all-around URL shortener.
  • Rebrandly for creating branded links.
  • TinyURL for free, fast, and anonymous short URLs.
  • BL.INK for small business owners.
  • URL Shortener by Zapier for automatically creating short links.
  • for sending different visitors different links.

Is it safe to click on shortened URL links? ›

Shortened URLs, such as those from and make it easy to type in a web address quickly, but difficult to determine where the web browser will actually take you. Criminals will use shortened URLs to direct victims to phishing sites or initiate a download of malicious software on to your device.

What if I accidentally clicked on a suspicious link? ›

If you clicked on a phishing link that took you to a spoofed page entered personal information or credentials, then you'll need to change your passwords and contact your security team for further advice. Another danger is that attackers usually know whether or not you clicked on the link.

How do you test a link before opening it? ›

How to Check a Suspicious Link Without Opening it?
  1. Visually Inspect the Link. ...
  2. Verify that Links in an Email Come from a Credible Source. ...
  3. Use Link Checker or Link Scanner. ...
  4. VirusTotal. ...
  5. Use a Short URL Expander. ...
  6. Upgrade Your Anti-Virus with Internet Security Features. ...
  7. Use Google Transparency Report. ...
  8. Simply Hover Over the Link.
Jul 7, 2022

What do suspicious links look like? ›

Suspicious links

You can spot a suspicious link if the destination address doesn't match the context of the rest of the email. For example, if you receive an email from Netflix, you would expect the link to direct you towards an address that begins ''.

What links should you not click on? ›

We always recommend not clicking links found in emails or texts unless you're 100% sure they're safe. But even links sent from sources you may trust can be malicious now that scammers are great at spoofing.

What do people use TinyURL for? ›

TinyURL offers an API which allows applications to automatically create short URLs. 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.

What is TinyURL link used for? ›

TinyURL is a link management tool designed to help users shorten and customize URLs. It allows users to create branded, shortened links that never expire. Businesses can use TinyURL to improve digital campaigns by implementing custom links that customers will easily recognize and trust.

Do TinyURL links expire? ›

Our TinyURLs do not expire! With the URL shortening service we provide, you can use and share your TinyURL so long as they are created and maintained in accordance with our Terms of Use. Not only are they reliable and secure, your TinyURLs will never expire!

How do I get rid of TinyURL virus? ›

Click on Force Stop. Then click on Clear Data and Clear Cache. Restart your Browser. It might be a good idea to Reboot your Android device, just in case.

Is Bitly or TinyURL better? ›

For feature updates and roadmaps, our reviewers preferred the direction of Bitly over TinyURL.

Is TinyURL private? ›

TinyURL is completely anonymous – no need to register an account. The downside, though, is that it doesn't offer any analytics or other advanced features.

Is free URL shortener safe? ›

The security risk with a shortened URL is you cannot tell where you are going when you click the link, you have to trust the sender. As a result, some organizations teach their employees not to trust shortened URLs, or simply block them at their network gateway. This poses a problem for the OUCH!

Can you be tracked by clicking a link? ›

Unless they discovered some major vulnerability in your browser, your device or in Google Maps, they can't figure out where you are just because you click a link.

How harmful can a link be? ›

What Happens If You Click on a Phishing Link? Clicking on a phishing link or opening an attachment in one of these messages may install malware, like viruses, spyware or ransomware, on your device. This is all done behind the scenes, so it is undetectable to the average user.

What is the safest way to click on links in an email? ›

Always hover over a link in an email message before you click on it. Do not click unless it is obviously a legitimate link. When you hover over a link, a popup will show you where it leads. Don't click if the link doesn't match the company that is supposed to have sent the message.

Can your account get hacked just by clicking a link? ›

By interacting with a phishing link, you run the risk of accidentally downloading malware, or being redirected to a malicious website controlled by hackers who intend to collect user information.

What if I clicked on a phishing link but did not enter details? ›

Disconnect/Unplug from the Internet

Stop the spread of any potential threat on your computer by disconnecting from your network. Sign off from your Wi-Fi network or unplug the Ethernet cord. Notify your managed service provider of the incident.

How do I scan my device for malware? ›

Quick Scan
  1. Click on Start.
  2. Hit the Settings button.
  3. Choose Update & Security.
  4. Click on Windows Security.
  5. Click on Virus & Threat Protection.
  6. Under Current Threats, select Quick Scan/Threat History.
  7. Click on Scan Now.
Jun 14, 2022

What is a suspicious link? ›

Things That May Signal a Phishing Link

It links to a suspicious root domain. The link is masked by a link shortener. You didn't ask for it, it found you. It's from someone you don't know. It links directly or redirects to a file rather than a web page.

What can happen if you open a suspicious link? ›

Your Network and Contacts May Be Exploited

Breaches to your entire network can happen if you click on a phishing link when hackers start sending the people on your contact list further phishing emails, or worse, gain remote access to your computer.

Can you get infected by opening a link? ›

Most viruses, Trojan horses, and worms are activated when you open an attachment or click a link contained in an email message. If your email client allows scripting, then it is possible to get a virus by simply opening a message.

Can clicking on a link hack my iPhone? ›

Just like on your computer, your iPhone can be hacked by clicking on a suspicious website or link. If a website looks or feels "off" check the logos, the spelling, or the URL.

Can you get a virus from visiting a link? ›

Yes, you can get a virus just from visiting a website. These days, it's very easy to be overconfident in our abilities to avoid computer viruses. After all, many of us were told that we simply had to avoid files and programs we didn't recognize.

What happens if you click on an unsafe website? ›

These dangerous sites typically resemble legitimate websites, and your computer can be attacked by simply visiting a malicious website. You may be prompted to download software that your computer appears to need. A hazardous installation can compromise your machine, and your sensitive information as well.

What happens when you enter a URL in your browser? ›

Browser looks up IP address for the domain. Browser initiates TCP connection with the server. Browser sends the HTTP request to the server. Server processes request and sends back a response.

How do I open a TinyURL? ›

Type the shortened URL in the address bar of your web browser and add the characters described below to see a preview of the full URL: Between the "http://" and the "tinyurl," type preview.

What to do if a link has expired? ›

Fixing 'The Link You Have Followed Has Expired' Error. The quickest way to fix 'The link you followed has expired' error is by increasing the file upload size, PHP memory, and execution time limits for your website.

Are TinyURL links public? ›

TinyURLs You Create: When you create a TinyURL Link, the shortened URL and the original URL it refers to is publicly available to anyone provided or with access to the TinyURL Link.

Can you simply delete a virus? ›

The easiest way to remove viruses is by using an antivirus program designed to clean your system safely. If a virus is already on your computer, however, you may need to run this program under very specific conditions.

What if I clicked on a phishing link on my phone? ›

If you do click on a phishing URL, delete any suspicious files, change all passwords (just in case) and run a malware scan using a trusted antivirus Android software.

Can hackers get your information by clicking a link? ›

A Hacker May Receive Information From or About You

If you click on a phishing link, the attacker will automatically receive some basic data, such as your device statistics, approximate location and any other information you may have voluntarily provided.


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