Links in my emails won't work

Don't you just hate it – you get an email with a link – maybe lots of links. You decide to visit them, but some of them just don't work.

There are several things that can cause a link to break:
Don't you just hate it — you get an email with a link — maybe lots of links. You decide to visit them, but some of them just don't work.

There are several things that can cause a link to break:

  • Stale links – Some links break because the page that the link was referring to has been removed from the Internet. We often see this on pages from newspapers and other news sites. There is not much you can do in this case other than to look for a similar article. You might want to do a search at Google News to find them.

  • Misspelled links – If someone has typed a link into the email, they may have made a mistake that is easy to find. Check to see if the http:// is written correctly. Make sure the main part of the name is correctly spelled. An example might be macmouscalls.com instead of macmousecalls.com. In this case you might see a page such as the one below. Note that it says it cannot find the server. That is a pretty good indication that there is a spelling error.



  • Too long – If a link in an email is too long to fit on one line or if it occurs too close to the end of the line, then it will be placed on two lines in the email. Often, when the line breaks, a space is added at the end of the line. One way to prevent this is to put angle brackets around the URL or Internet address. See the example below.




Now that we know what is wrong, let's talk about ways to fix the broken link. My favorite way is to highlight the lines containing the URL or Internet address and then to use the copy them using Command - C.



Now open an application such as TextEdit and paste the URL into a document.



Because TextEdit is probably in a format called RTF or rich text format, if you click on the line to place the cursor so that you can remove the space, it will open the link in Safari. To prevent this, convert the document to Plain Text. This is down in the TextEdit format menu.



Your text will now be in black and white. Place the cursor a short distance to the right of the end of the first line. You will see that "something" has been selected. Press the Delete key in the upper right of your computer's keyboard to remove the space you have selected.



To make sure that your URL is continuous, drag the TextEdit window until it is long enough to get the whole URL on one line.



Now it is time to highlight the entire URL and paste it into the Address Bar of your Browser.



There are several ways to select a line of text. You can begin at one end of the line and then click and drag with your mouse to the other. Another way is to triple click somewhere in the line of text. Use the Copy command as shown above to copy it into your computer's invisible clipboard.

Go to your browser window. Click on the small icon at the beginning of the Address Bar to instantly select the entire URL. It is not necessary to erase or delete what is there, just use the Paste command (Command V) or Edit menu > Paste. Press the Return key on your keyboard to activate the command.



While this method of keeping URLs intact in emails works well on the Mac platform, it may not work as well for Windows users. Just how the URL is handled by the Email application is determined in its programming, and unfortunately, Microsoft Outlook (the most common Windows email program) is inconsistent in how it handles long URLs.

Just remember, not all problems are caused by Macs and Windows users will need to learn how to handle URLs that arrive with spaces in them, just as you have learned. We do lots of tutorials such as this for our clients at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Our rates are only $60 per hour for clear explanations about how to work with your Macintosh. Give us a call or drop us a line if you need some help.

© Pat Fauquet 2007

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