I tried to email a web page link to a group of my friends, but none
of them could click on it and have it work … it always said “page not
found” or something like that. And yet the link works for me.
The link is a little lengthy, so I certainly can’t expect them to
type it all in. Why can’t they just click to open that link, and what
can I do to make it work for them?
The link broke.
No, seriously, the link was literally broken – either by your
email program, or the recipients.
Here’s what I mean:
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Here’s a really long link to a page on one of my other sites (I’ll
explain why I had to use another site in a moment):
At 94 characters long, that’s a fairly lengthy URL.
In fact, it’s too long for many email programs. Many email
programs attempt to force the text in your message to be no wider than
some number of characters. For example an email program might force all
text to be no wider than 72 characters. For words, that’s not a problem
– the text is reformatted, breaking lines at the spaces between
What if there’s no spaces?
Then many mail programs do this:
into two at column 72. And I do mean broken.”
Notice how the URL has been literally broken into two at column
And I do mean broken.
The problem is that even though the first 72 characters are
highlighted as a link, they are incomplete. The link won’t work because
it doesn’t include the part that was placed on the next line.
I’m almost positive that’s what’s happened to your links.
So, what to do?
There are a couple of services you should know about on the
internet: tinyurl.com and snipurl.com. They both do, essentially, the
same thing. They let you set up a short URL that you can use in place
of the longer one.
Let’s use TinyURL to fix
If you visit tinyurl.com
you’ll see on the screen this box:
So instead of copy/pasting that long URL into our email, we’ll
copy/paste it here:
Note that the URL is so long that only the end of it shows after the
paste, but that’s ok. As long as the entire long URL has been pasted in
there, we’re ready for the next step.
Push the Make TinyURL! button to get this:
Now, you have a much shorter URL you can use:
Use this instead of the long link. Once you’ve set it up
this way, it’ll take you to the exact same place as the longer URL.
And it won’t break when you send it in email.
So, why didn’t I use a page on Ask Leo! as an example? Simple: I’ve designed
the web site to be “broken link tolerant”. As long as the URL has enough information
that I can tell what page you’re looking for, that’s where you’ll land.
For example, these all take you to the same place:
Note: most sites do not do this! That means you need to use
the tinyurl/snipurl solution I’ve described above.