Create a URL shortener with Netlify

After hearing of a few people doing the same, I set up a mostly-free URL shortener with Netlify: Here’s the steps I followed to get it done.

1. Register a domain #

Go to your favorite registrar and buy a new domain. Aim for something short and memorable, and consider the .link TLD. I heard a recommendation for Hover, which seems pretty cool, but I went with Google Domains for

This is the only step that costs money, and the amount will depend on the domain/TLD that you choose. .dev TLDs on Google Domains cost $12/year.

2. Create a repo #

I modelled my repo off of cassidoo/, which seems to be based off of kentcdodds/netlify-shortener-example. In order of importance, you have:

  • a _redirect file that maps short urls to destinations,
  • a package.json with a single (optional) dependency for adding links,
  • a,
  • and some git stuff.

3. Add your project to Netlify #

Login to Netlify (or create an account) and add a new project from git. Select your repository, and enter the following:

  • Build command: Nothing
  • Publish directory: Nothing

4. Setup your custom domain #

In the main project view on Netlify, select “ Domain settings”, then “Add custom domain”. Enter the domain that you registered in step one and go through the flow.

You’ll need to update the DNS settings with your registrar to point to Netlify’s servers:

5. Wait #

Depending on how quickly you went through steps 1-4, you may have to wait a few hours for everything to get setup from registrar and the DNS. For me, this took about thirty minutes, but your mileage may vary.

6. Enjoy #

With all that in place, you should be able to use your URL shortener:! To add a new URL, you can add a new line to the _redirect file manually or use the shorten script(if you added it)

Happy shortening!

Luke 19:1-10 (SDG)


My name is Sean McPherson (SeanMcP), and I am a software engineer based in Pittsburgh, PA. Here I write articles about programming for developers of all levels.