How to Safely Open Unknown Web Pages at Work

NSFWYou are at work and a friend sends you an email with a link to some web page that he or she wants you to check out right now.

You have unrestricted access to the Internet in your office but they keep a log of everything so it's probably not a good idea to visit NSFW (Not Safe for Work) websites from your office computer.

Another problem, you don't have personal cubicles in the office but a fairly open workspace so your colleagues can (of course, unintentionally) see your computer screen.

Avoid Stumbling into Inappropriate Content at Work

What should you do if you are unsure of the contents of the web page but still can't resist the temptation to click? Here are some ideas:

If that link is a short URL (like, you can go to to know the actual web page where that link will take you to upon clicking. LongURL supports nearly every popular URL shortening service including the recently launched

LongURL won't just expand the short URLs but it will also show a small thumbnail preview of the web page so you know what to expect after landing on the site that your friend has shared with you.

Sometimes web pages can contain NSFW text and that may flag the Internet monitoring systems in your office. To avoid such a situation, you can download the web page as a PDF file without opening the actual page in your browser.

You can do this with the help of, a free service that will do all the conversion on its own servers. The logging software won't be able to read the contents of the web page even though that page has been now saved on to your local hard-disk (see example).

Desktop search programs and sniffers can sometimes index the contents of PDF files so if you want to be extra safe, don't save PDFs (as suggested above) but take a screenshot with Aviary instead.

Aviary will convert a web URL into an image that you can easily read in the web browser but the monitoring system can't since the web page is served as a bitmap image that cannot be scanned for NSFW words (see example).

Protect your screen from Prying Eyes


Prying eyes are everywhere and there's a chance that some hidden web camera or even a curious colleague is looking at your computer monitor while you are busy reading web pages. To avoid this, try a simple trick. Copy-paste the URL into Variably SFW and start moving the scroller to the right until the content becomes barely visible.

Variable SFW basically adds a black mask over the (unknown and sometimes NSFW) web page and as you move the scroller, the mask starts getting transparent thus revealing what's beneath it. Only you can see the contents as you are so close to the computer but a colleague sitting at a distance will only see a black screen. Give it a try.

Also see: How to Use Twitter During Office Hours

How to Safely Open Unknown Web Pages at Work

Originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal.


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