How to Find the Absolute Path in a Website


When Web developers add links to a page, they often use a relative path instead of an absolute path. A kind of shortcut, relative paths tell a Web browser how to get to a page from the current page's location, rather than going back to the main address, or URL, to get to the new page. In most cases, simply clicking a link provides an absolute path. However, if the link is broken or if it starts an automatic download, you can't get the relative path. Automatic downloads, for example, sometimes happen when you click on a PDF (Portable Document Format) or PPT file (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation) link in a search engine. Either way, you can usually get the absolute path with a bit of detective work.

Clicking to Find a Path

  • Click on any link on a Web page using a relative path. Provided the link is properly coded, the page opens. Highlight the URL in the address bar of your Web browser and copy it by pressing "Ctrl-C" to copy the link's absolute path. If the link doesn't work, you may still be able to get the absolute path.

  • Examine the URL in the address bar and fix any obvious typos, like a double "http," a "wwww" instead of "www" or two slashes instead of one. If the link automatically redirected you to an error page, open a text editor and paste the code there to examine it. Once a typo is fixed, the link should work, giving you the absolute path.

  • Copy the URL in the address bar of the source page. Paste this in a new line in your text editor. If it ends in "html," delete everything after the last "/." If it ends in "com" or ".org" or any other domain extension, type a "/" at the end and then type the rest of the relative path. For example, if the main URL was "," and the relative path was "/folder/page.html," you should now have "" Copy and paste this into your Web browser address bar to see if it works. If it does, you've found the link's absolute path.

  • Click on other links in the source Web page and examine the URLs in the address bar. Websites, like the files on your computer, are usually stored in folders and sub-folders. Every folder begins and ends with a "/." If a developer has mistyped a folder name, correct it and try the link again. If the developer has moved a page, you may be able to determine in which folder the page you are looking for belongs. For example, if the bad link includes an "/images/" folder, while and the other images are in an "/image/" folder, you can simply delete the "s" to get the correct path.

Searching and Absolute Paths

Tips & Warnings

  • Not all Web page URLs end with "html." Some end with "htm," while others -- including blogs -- end with a "/" symbol. If you're uncertain which is used, go to the website's home page and click on a link to see the end of the URL in the address bar.

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