Computer Q & A: What is a URL and how do I copy it?

Simply defined, the URL is the entire address of what you are viewing in your web browser. It is found in your browser's address bar. It is important to your developer because it helps them to know precisely where you are encountering an issue or problem on your website, and it also helps point the developer in the direction of how they can solve the problem for you.

Let's look at an image of a website in a browser to see what we're talking about.

web browser screen

So where is the URL, then, in this image?

URL address bar

It's right there, in the center of the address bar at the top of your browser window.

Your website support and development team will be able to help you much more quickly and accurately if you can copy the URL of a page where you encounter a problem and paste it into an email when you report an issue needing attention. Here's how you do it.

How do I copy and paste a URL in Windows?

  1. When you encounter the problem, take your mouse cursor and click into the address bar of your browser.
  2. Select everything in the address bar. If the address is so long that it "flows over" and you can't get it all, use your key command ctrl+A to Select All.
  3. Now enter the key command ctrl+C to copy what you've selected. The URL is now copied to your system's clipboard and is ready to be pasted in an email to your support team.
  4. Now begin an email to your support team to report the issue.
  5. Paste the URL into the email by entering the key command ctrl+V.

How do I copy and paste a URL using the Mac OS?

  1. When you encounter the problem, take your mouse cursor and click into the address bar of your browser.
  2. Select everything in the address bar. If the address is so long that it "flows over" and you can't get it all, use Command+A to select all. (Command is the button that has the Apple on it, and is to the left and right of your space bar.)
  3. Now enter Command+C to copy what you've selected. The URL is now copied to your system's clipboard and is ready to be pasted in an email to your support team.
  4. Now begin an email to your support team to report the issue.
  5. Paste the URL into the email by entering the Command+V.

Send off this email to your support team, and you have equipped them with some valuable information that is needed to resolve the issue.

In case you can't resist and have always wanted to know, here is the technical definition of a URL:
According to the W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium), Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs, aka URLs) are short strings that identify resources in the web: documents, images, downloadable files, services, electronic mailboxes, and other resources. For more information, see http://www.w3.org/Addressing/

A URL “in addition to identifying a resource, [provides] a means of locating the resource by describing its primary access mechanism (e.g., its network ‘location’).” [Tim Berners-Lee, Roy T. Fielding, Larry Masinter. (January 2005). “Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax”. Internet Society. RFC 3986; STD 66.] For more information, see http://gbiv.com/protocols/uri/rfc/rfc3986.html

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