General Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is there a way to make Outlook display the true target location in a hyperlinked URL?

Asked by LuckyGuy (34875points) January 30th, 2013

Both Yahoo Mail and Gmail display the target URL in the lower left hand corner of the screen when you hover over the hyperlink. You know where you will be going before you click the link. I do not see that in protection in Outlook. In my opinion that is dangerous! The text of the hyperlink can be one address and the target another.
I friend of mine received an email from someone on his contacts list. In the email was a bit ly url (I removed the ”.”)
To further add to email’s credibility, the text of the message used my friend’s first name and his friend’s first name. It was something like “Hey John, Check out this link xxx .ly/abcde . Interesting! Paul”
Now his computer is sending out similar emails to George, Ringo, etc. with a similar message using correct names.
I do not click on tinyurl nor bitly urls. I always look at the target before clicking but don’t see that capability in Outlook. Is there a way?
Searching Microsoft for this info just points me to how to make hyperlinks. Useless.

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6 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Your friend’s virus protection was either non-existent or out of date. I refrain from clicking on the obvious bogus links (worded as you have described), and when I send out even short emails I make sure to make the message one that says more than “Check this out [link goes here]” by giving the reader an indication of what will be found at the link.

But I use TinyURL all the time, and I don’t worry about clicking links from friends (when they aren’t those obvious messages as above). The few times that I have encountered malware or Trojan loaders or the like at a TinyURL site, my virus checker has warned me before it even displays the page.

To answer your exact question, though, Outlook shows “the hyperlink” in its bottom-of-the-screen status line. I think that TinyURL or bit ly would have to change their own schemas to enable a read-through of “the link behind the link” – but why would they do that, since it is so easy to make re-directs, or a chain of them, that none of the shortening services could have the resources to penetrate.

gambitking's avatar

Hey there, yep it’s good to be cautious!

For regular links that have anchor text , you can right click on it or usually hover to see what it is. Alternately you could paste it into a document and check the hyperlink behind the anchor text.

For Bit Ly or TinyURL links, those are a bit trickier, but you can always use this tool:

CWOTUS's avatar

That’s pretty cool, @gambitking. I didn’t know such a thing existed.

However, it’s not foolproof, as I can demonstrate here with a perfectly safe TinyURL:

That is a TinyURL of another TinyURL (which leads to a safe page on Wikipedia), but it could just as easily have been a link to a redirect page that would automatically send you to another page, benign or not.

I do like this, though. It’s better than nothing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS @gambitking That is great information! It’s just what I needed! Thanks!

I love this place!

gambitking's avatar

@CWOTUS , yes that’s certainly a downside , as originally mentioned in your first post (about links within links).

But if I went to a link expander tool and found yet another shortened link within, that’d be just as much of a tip-off that something’s fishy.

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