What’s the point?

As web sites have become more complicated, so have the URLs that bring up particular pages. Sometimes the URLs are so long that they choke services like Twitter, and don’t easily fit on one line in an email message or forum posting. This can result in ugly formatting or links that simply don’t work when you email them.

u.nu solves this problem by shrinking the URL down from a long mess of letters and punctuation, into a short, easy-to-paste, easy-to-type mini-URL that brings people to the same page as the long one.

Wow, that’s excellent, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. And thanks for saying so in the form of a question.

What type of redirect do you use?

u.nu uses “301” (permanent) redirects, which according to many random people on the internet, are better for search engine optimization.

How much shorter are your URLs than the competion’s?

u.nu’s ground-breaking 3-letter domain technology is 25% shorter than its closest imitators, which have 4-letter domains, and it’s fully 70% shorter than arch-rival tinyurl.com’s rambling Dostoyevskian screed of a domain name. Unlike all those other sites, which make no such assurances, we offer a 100% guarantee that our domain name will never get longer. Add those percentages up and you get 195%, which is quite a lot.

This seems too good to be true. How can you shrink those crazy-long URLs down so much?

The exact process is a trade secret, and obviously our lawyers won’t let us divulge too many of the highly scientific details. However, if you wanted to, you could think of it like this: While every page on the web is different from every other, many of them aren’t really all that different. For example, Yahoo and Google look different on the surface, but let’s face it, they’re both doing the same thing. By distilling out the commonalities and then mathematically reducing the differences down to a short sequence of characters, it may be possible to create vastly shorter URLs that nevertheless uniquely identify each site.

The bookmarklet

Add this to your bookmarks or drag it to your bookmarks bar to quickly access shortening functions.

Shorten

This bookmarklet takes the page URL and title and opens a new tab, where you can fill out a CAPTCHA. If you have selected text before using the bookmarklet, that will be used as the keyword.

Support for bookmarklets on mobile varies. For example, they work on Chrome for Android but you have to add and sync them from your desktop.