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Getting Around Google Search’s Theft of Copiable URLs

cc licensed flickr photo shared by lamont_cranston

One of my primary uses of Google Search is locating URLs for web pages I am creating, blog posts, etc. The way Google outputs search results in a PITA as the links to the results are obfuscated in redirects through google (things they do to harvest our actions).

In the old days, the search result was a link to the actual result. You could copy it and move on. They changed it back and forth a few times on 2005, but since then, that blue link is worthless as a copiable URL. Since then, I have been doing the tedious manual copy of the real URL that is written in green text below the results.

Until recently. For long URLs, Google is now even strealing that as useful information, as it abbreviates long URLs with ellipses in the middle. As is the only way to get the actual URL for a web search result is to follow the link to the page (cause that’s What Google Wants– its lot like I am reading the page, I am scraping the URL).


Here is a search I did this morning on augmented reality. The blue links to the results do not provide URLs I can copy. The green text for the second long link is now re-written with “….” i the middle, so that is a URL I cannot use. I am hosed.

Picture 38

So I started thinking I might have to write a Greasemonkey Script that would display the actual links. I went to looking for some existing scripts I could use as models to parse the results (have you ever looked at the source of a page of google results? It’s not your grandpa’a HTML).

But then it dawned on me…

What is someone had already done this?


They did.

Dugeen had created the Obviously Scrub Google Redirect Links which works perfectly- it adds the real link adjacent to the blue on produced by Google- and this is one I can right/controil click to copy the link URL right from the search results! Yay.

Picture 37

This is so handy.

And also– despite excitement for new web browsers, something lacking the ability to re-cast web content like Greasemonkey does is going to make it hard for me to step away from Firefox.

Hah, take that Google – you url obfuscating boogers! Gotcha.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. I always click through to the original page and copy the URL from the address bar – best to verify the page is really still there, contains the content it did when Google indexed it, and to grab the final URL that may be the result of redirections or rewrites. It’s slower, old-fashioned, but if I link to something it’s probably worth a quick eyeball glance first.

    1. Well, as Clay Davis on The Wire says, “Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit” They must have just changed it.

      Is Google listening to me?

      I swear, just recently, I was getting long google URL redirect links.

      Time for a beer.

  2. Bizarre, i’ve always found that weird redirect in the listed URL’s too.. and done what D’arcy does, to click through and copy. And today, there are proper, copiable web addresses.

    Well done Alan!!
    Regards, michael

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