Browser Add-on Neat URL - Removes tracking elements from links

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Aug 17, 2014
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Neat URL is an open source extension. It is based on Lean URL.
How does this work?

All tracking URLs use certain patterns. For e.g. many URLs have a ? which is followed by a random string that's used for tracking

Here's an example URL
And here's the Neat URL version of the same.

Can you spot the differences between the two links? The second URL has been trimmed, it is missing the content after the ?, in this case these attributes: "utm_source" and "utm_medium". The first parameter tells the website where I visited the page from, in this case an RSS Feed. The second one is useful for marketing reasons: to show the direction/origin of the traffic (direct link, Google, etc.).

Neat URL uses a parameter based system that is used to detect and remove unwanted content from links. The above link for example was trimmed because of the following rule.
Campaign tracking (utm):
utm_*,
This will remove anything that includes "utm_" in the URL. For e.g. utm_source, utm_RSSfeed or whatever the link contained.

While Neat URL trims most of the common tracking terms from the URLs, it doesn't include all words by default. But it offers us a way to add custom parameters. This is very useful for filtering content that you want to remove, especially from specific domains.

url from email with a tracker parameter


Here's another URL (from my email) that has a tracker.
Neat URL button preferences


If we want to block the "snr" parameter, we need to set up a custom rule for it. Right-click on the Neat URL button and select preferences.

Neat URL custom parameters


Scroll down to the third box. It is labeled "Blocked Parameters". Type the letters snr in the box. Go to the end of the page and click on the "Save preferences" button. Load the same URL, you should see a badge on the counter that reads 1, to indicate 1 change was made to the URL (since there was only 1 tracker).

Neat URL custom parameter blocked


Similarly, you can add other parameters to block different trackers. You may also use domain specific rules like offers@example.com, promos@randomsite.com, etc. Scroll down the page to disable (whitelist) the extension on specific websites.

neat url options


You may have noticed that Neat URL has a lot of default parameters at the top of its options page. Each rule that's listed in the box has a label. Unfortunately, the add-on does not support labels for custom parameters, at least not yet. So don't bother labeling your custom parameters, e.g. Campaign tracking (example): snr. That won't work. Instead, use only the word to be blocked. Add commas as the delimiter between parameters, e.g. tracker, snr, utm_*.

neat url advanced options

 
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