Skip to main content

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: smcp.dev. 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 smcp.dev.

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/cass.run, which seems to be based off of kentcdodds/netlify-shortener-example. In order of importance, you have:

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:

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:

dns1.p05.nsone.net
dns2.p05.nsone.net
dns3.p05.nsone.net
dns4.p05.nsone.net

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: smcp.dev/yt! 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!



About the author

Sean McPherson is a software engineer for Khan Academy who specializes in web and mobile app development. He lives with his wife, sons, and dog in Pittsburgh, PA.