How to generate Web URLs for files stored on Amazon S3. Time Limited URLs for Amazon S3 files.
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Web URL Generator

Web URL Generator Overview

Using Web URL Generator you can easily generate Web URLs for your files. You may use this tool to create links to multiple files, entire folder or even the bucket.

You may apply different options to the resulting links, like HTTP or HTTPS connection, set URLs to be time limited based on the specific date or duration, use custom host name (if you have corresponding CNAME to your bucket), shorten resulting URLs using various shortening services.

Below we will describe these options in more details.

Simple Web URLs

Simple Web URL looks like:

https://{your-bucket-name}.s3.{region-code}.amazonaws.com/{file-name}

For example https://images.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/kitty.jpg.

In order to use this kind of URLs you need to make your file(s) publicly available.

To Generate Simple Web URL

Select one or multiple files or folder(s) and click Files, Generate Web URL(s)

select files and click files generate web urls

Select the files you want to generate URLs for and click Files, Generate Web URLs

If you would like to generate URLs for all files inside a bucket, please choose the bucket and click Buckets, Generate Web URLs

The Web URL Generator dialog will open:

web URL generator dialog

The Web URL Generator dialog

Web URLs are generated automatically, you may tick the Use secure transfer (HTTPS) check-box if you would like your files to be downloaded over encrypted TLS channel.

You can now copy resulting URLs to the Clipboard by clicking corresponding button and close the dialog.

Path-style and Virtual-hosted style URLs

S3 currently supports two different addressing models:

  • path-style
  • virtual-hosted style

Path-style URLs look like below:

https://s3.{region-code}.amazonaws.com/{your-bucket-name}/{file-name}

And virtual-hosted style URLs look like below:

https://{your-bucket-name}.s3.{region-code}.amazonaws.com/{file-name}

Amazon is going to deprecate path-style addressing model and S3 Browser uses virtual-hosted URLs when possible.

But, in some cases path-style URLS is only choice:

  • Bucket name contains uppercase characters
  • Bucket name contains on or more dot characters and HTTPS is selected
  • Bucket name is an IP address
  • Bucket name contains two subsequent dot characters
  • S3-Compatible account selected with path-style addressing model.

For cases described above S3 Browser generates path-style URLs. For all other cases, virtual-hosted style URLS are produced.

Time Limited URLs

Amazon S3 provides a way to presign URL to make it available for a limited period of time.

Possible use case for presigned URL is that you can grant temporary access to the file, for example generate time limited URL to share the file with someone or use it with the command line tool like wget or curl to download a file.

To Generate Time Limited URL

Select one or multiple files or folder(s) and click Files, Generate Web URL(s), or if you would like to generate URLs for all files in a bucket, please choose the bucket and click Buckets, Generate Web URLs

The Web URL Generator dialog will open:

time limited web urls generator

Time limited Web URLs generation

Configure the expiration either by specifying the link validity duration in minutes or by choosing the exact date and time when the link became invalid.

Important notice: A presigned URL can be valid for a maximum of seven days because the signing key you use in signature calculation is valid for up to seven days. This is the limitation of Signature V4 (check out the X-Amz-Expires query string parameter description). We also can not use Signature V2 which allowed longer periods, it is now deprecated by AWS.

Web URLs are generated automatically when you modify the options. You may also shorten resulting URLs.

You can now copy resulting URLs to the Clipboard by clicking corresponding button and close the dialog.

Custom Host Names

If you are using CNAME to map your host name to the virtual hosted S3 URL, you may find it useful to specify custom host name for your URLs.

Check out this article to learn more about customizing Amazon S3 URLs with CNAMEs

For example if you are using CNAME to map images.yourwebsite.com to images.yourwebsite.com.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com you may specify custom host name in the corresponding text-box as shown on the screenshot below, so URLs will be generated using custom host name.

set custom host name for web URLs

How to set custom host name for Web URLs

Another way to set custom host is to tick the Use bucket name check-box, this might be useful if your bucket name is the same as the custom host name (this is required to configure CNAME).

If you would like to generate Web URLs for files served via CloudFront, you may tick the Use CloudFront distribution domain check-box as shown on the picture below, this option is available if corresponding distribution found (i.e. the distribution with the bucket as an origin, you may need the permission to perform the cloudfront:ListDistributions call to detect this)

cloudfront domain as a custom host name

How to set CloudFront domain as a custom host name for Web URLs

URL Shortening

Usually URLs to files stored on Amazon S3 are quite long, especially when they are time limited. You may use URL Shortening services to convert your long URL into the shorten equivalent.

S3 Browser supports the following URL shortening services for now:

  • TinyURL - the first notable URL shortening service.
  • Bitly- the most popular at the moment.

To Shorten Web URLs

Select URL shortening service from the drop-down list and click Shorten with.

Additional configuration is required for the Bitly service, please check below.

shorten web url with tinyurl

How to shorten Web URLs with TinyURL

S3 Browser will contact selected shortening service and convert your long URLs into the shorten equivalents.

short web urls received from the tinyurl

Web URLs successfully shortened with TinyURL

You can now copy resulting URLs using corresponding button.

Bitly Configuration

You need additional configuration for the Bitly service. In order to use the Bitly API you need to sign up and generate your Generic Access Token

Then you may specify this token in the Bitly Access Token dialog.

Select Bitly from the drop-down list and click the configure link.

bitly configure link

How to configure the Bitly shortening service

The Bitly Generic Access Token dialog will open.

bitly configuration dialog

Bitly Generic Access Token dialog

Enter your Bitly Generic Access Token and click OK.

You can now shorten your Web URls with Bitly.

short web urls received from the bitly service

Web URLs successfully shortened with Bitly

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