Review: Short.y UWP
We've all seen 'short' URLs, and there are dozens of services which create them, but Short.y is a new UWP utility that lets you create short links on your Windows 10 phone/tablet/laptop, either manually or via 'Share'. As a bonus, it safely inspects where short links you've been sent actually point to. A top notch addition to any Windows 10 device.
The first link shortener was tinyurl.com, I believe, around a decade ago. It was a fabulously useful way to shorten something people couldn't remember to something they could. Especially if they didn't also have to remember the URL prefix as well. So, for example, the donations/prize system for my own Phones Show and PSC podcast has been tinyurl.com/pspromo for many years. With the tinyurl.com ubiquitous now, all people have to remember is the pspromo bit. As in Phones Show PROMO etc.
It's a good system, though it's been dramatically widened in recent years with a lot of copycat services. Meaning that you can't rely on people remembering the prefix anymore, but such is progress. On the upside, these new services have fuller APIs, meaning that utilities like Short.y UWP can do what they do. So it's a net gain overall.
Tellingly, tinyurl isn't one of the services offered here, so I'm guessing they predated the use of APIs and thus can't be automated as well.
The use case for Short.y is that you come across something online on your (Windows 10) phone or tablet screen and want to share the link easily on social media without having your post dominated by a long and possibly multi-line URL.
Now, Short.y can be used various ways (in fact, there's a way that I haven't even covered here, via Action Centre), but I'll run through the basics. Start up or switch to Short.y and simply fill in the URL field, usually from the Windows clipboard. In fact, you don't really even have to paste the latter, since Short.y is clever enough to spot that a URL is in the cliboard and it auto-pastes the contents for you:
At its simplest you then just hit the 'DO IT!' button and you get a shortened URL, with hyperlink, clipboard copy shortcut, sharing link and even a QR code all generated, ready for use in a myriad of ways. You can even save the QR code as an image, again for onward sharing or storing.
In Settings, you'll find that you can set the shortening service used from half a dozen providers, though is.gd is the best in terms of API capability, it seems, so best stick to this:
So far so good then, that's the basics of the 'Shorten' tab - next up is the 'Lookup' tab. Paste (or type in) any shortened URL (from any provider, not just the ones included in the app) and the full URL will be investigated and displayed. So instead of someone duping you into clicking on a hyperlink which actually goes to makemoney-from-idiots.com or whatever, you get to see if the address looks sensible. If it is, you just tap the hyperlink provided, right from Short.y.
This being Windows 10 you can go further, of course, with Short.y installing itself as a 'share target'. So in many cases you may not even need to use the main Short.y app or its UI. Here's a typical example. You're browsing in Edge (for example) and you want to share the article in shortened URL form* via social media, so you use Edge's 'Share' function and then pick 'Short.y' from the sharing list:
* Some social applications shorten URLs on their own, of course. I'm just demonstrating one option here, that will work across all apps and services.
Immediately after the 'Share', you'll get a toast notification telling you that 'Your link is ready', meaning that the shortened version is now on the system clipboard. So it's onto whichever social service or communications app you prefer, pasting in and commenting on as needed. All very slick, and very quick:
URL shortening isn't something most people immediately think that they need, but once you've tried Short.y UWP on - here - your Windows 10 Mobile phone then it's most definitely staying put. For the occasion when you're trying to avoid pasting in one of the horrible convoluted URLs which has masses of '?hihid88d&4985050805' style suffxes, then something like Short.y can save your (and others') sanity.
There's full support for 'custom' suffixes too, as shown in examples here in the review, should you be trying for something that you're going to be speaking out loud (e.g. on a podcast) and that you want to be more memorable.
Short.y is free, too. With just a 'donate' link (shown above, right) if you like it enough to reward the developer. So install it, keep it, use it, and - yes - donate as well. A top notch little utility that's been implemented almost perfectly.
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at