Link-shortening services make it hard to tell a link’s final destination. When you receive one in an email, you may want to do some detective work to see where it’s going – before you click.
Some services do have preview features. For example, if you visit tinyurl.com/preview.php, TinyURL will help you turn on a cookie-based feature in your browser. Then, when you click on a link, you can preview where it goes prior to going there.
Bit.ly also allows you to do this. Simply add a plus sign to the end of the URL, and Bit.ly will display where you would have gone rather than taking you there.
There are also several sites that show you where a shortened link will take you. Some current services1 include:
Each of these display the target and some additional information about a short URL.
The bottom line, really, is to stay away from mysterious links sent to you through spam. But when you receive a shortened link from a trusted source and you aren’t sure why, investigate with these preview tools.