Replace URLs in text with HTML links

PhpRegexUrlPreg ReplaceLinkify

Php Problem Overview

Here is a design though: For example is I put a link such as


in textarea. How do I get PHP to detect it’s a http:// link and then print it as

print "<a href=''></a>";

I remember doing something like this before however, it was not fool proof it kept breaking for complex links.

Another good idea would be if you have a link such as


fix it so it does

print "<a href=''>";
print "";
print "</a>";

This one is just an after thought.. stackoverflow could also probably use this as well :D

Any Ideas

Php Solutions

Solution 1 - Php

Let's look at the requirements. You have some user-supplied plain text, which you want to display with hyperlinked URLs.

  1. The "http://" protocol prefix should be optional.
  2. Both domains and IP addresses should be accepted.
  3. Any valid top-level domain should be accepted, e.g. .aero and .xn--jxalpdlp.
  4. Port numbers should be allowed.
  5. URLs must be allowed in normal sentence contexts. For instance, in "Visit", the final period is not part of the URL.
  6. You probably want to allow "https://" URLs as well, and perhaps others as well.
  7. As always when displaying user supplied text in HTML, you want to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS). Also, you'll want ampersands in URLs to be correctly escaped as &amp;.
  8. You probably don't need support for IPv6 addresses.
  9. Edit: As noted in the comments, support for email-adresses is definitely a plus.
  10. Edit: Only plain text input is to be supported – HTML tags in the input should not be honoured. (The Bitbucket version supports HTML input.)

Edit: Check out GitHub for the latest version, with support for email addresses, authenticated URLs, URLs in quotes and parentheses, HTML input, as well as an updated TLD list.

Here's my take:

$text = <<<EOD
Here are some URLs:
Here's the answer: What was the question?
A quick look at is helpful.
There is no place like! Except maybe
Beware of Greeks bringing internationalized top-level domains: xn--hxajbheg2az3al.xn--jxalpdlp.
And remember.Nobody is perfect.

<script>alert('Remember kids: Say no to XSS-attacks! Always HTML escape untrusted input!');</script>

$rexProtocol = '(https?://)?';
$rexDomain   = '((?:[-a-zA-Z0-9]{1,63}\.)+[-a-zA-Z0-9]{2,63}|(?:[0-9]{1,3}\.){3}[0-9]{1,3})';
$rexPort     = '(:[0-9]{1,5})?';
$rexPath     = '(/[!$-/0-9:;=@_\':;!a-zA-Z\x7f-\xff]*?)?';
$rexQuery    = '(\?[!$-/0-9:;=@_\':;!a-zA-Z\x7f-\xff]+?)?';
$rexFragment = '(#[!$-/0-9:;=@_\':;!a-zA-Z\x7f-\xff]+?)?';

// Solution 1:

function callback($match)
    // Prepend http:// if no protocol specified
    $completeUrl = $match[1] ? $match[0] : "http://{$match[0]}";
    return '<a href="' . $completeUrl . '">'
        . $match[2] . $match[3] . $match[4] . '</a>';

print "<pre>";
print preg_replace_callback("&\\b$rexProtocol$rexDomain$rexPort$rexPath$rexQuery$rexFragment(?=[?.!,;:\"]?(\s|$))&",
    'callback', htmlspecialchars($text));
print "</pre>";
  • To properly escape < and & characters, I throw the whole text through htmlspecialchars before processing. This is not ideal, as the html escaping can cause misdetection of URL boundaries.
  • As demonstrated by the "And remember.Nobody is perfect." line (in which remember.Nobody is treated as an URL, because of the missing space), further checking on valid top-level domains might be in order.

Edit: The following code fixes the above two problems, but is quite a bit more verbose since I'm more or less re-implementing preg_replace_callback using preg_match.

// Solution 2:

$validTlds = array_fill_keys(explode(" ", ".aero .asia .biz .cat .com .coop .edu .gov .info .int .jobs .mil .mobi .museum .name .net .org .pro .tel .travel .ac .ad .ae .af .ag .ai .al .am .an .ao .aq .ar .as .at .au .aw .ax .az .ba .bb .bd .be .bf .bg .bh .bi .bj .bm .bn .bo .br .bs .bt .bv .bw .by .bz .ca .cc .cd .cf .cg .ch .ci .ck .cl .cm .cn .co .cr .cu .cv .cx .cy .cz .de .dj .dk .dm .do .dz .ec .ee .eg .er .es .et .eu .fi .fj .fk .fm .fo .fr .ga .gb .gd .ge .gf .gg .gh .gi .gl .gm .gn .gp .gq .gr .gs .gt .gu .gw .gy .hk .hm .hn .hr .ht .hu .id .ie .il .im .in .io .iq .ir .is .it .je .jm .jo .jp .ke .kg .kh .ki .km .kn .kp .kr .kw .ky .kz .la .lb .lc .li .lk .lr .ls .lt .lu .lv .ly .ma .mc .md .me .mg .mh .mk .ml .mm .mn .mo .mp .mq .mr .ms .mt .mu .mv .mw .mx .my .mz .na .nc .ne .nf .ng .ni .nl .no .np .nr .nu .nz .om .pa .pe .pf .pg .ph .pk .pl .pm .pn .pr .ps .pt .pw .py .qa .re .ro .rs .ru .rw .sa .sb .sc .sd .se .sg .sh .si .sj .sk .sl .sm .sn .so .sr .st .su .sv .sy .sz .tc .td .tf .tg .th .tj .tk .tl .tm .tn .to .tp .tr .tt .tv .tw .tz .ua .ug .uk .us .uy .uz .va .vc .ve .vg .vi .vn .vu .wf .ws .ye .yt .yu .za .zm .zw .xn--0zwm56d .xn--11b5bs3a9aj6g .xn--80akhbyknj4f .xn--9t4b11yi5a .xn--deba0ad .xn--g6w251d .xn--hgbk6aj7f53bba .xn--hlcj6aya9esc7a .xn--jxalpdlp .xn--kgbechtv .xn--zckzah .arpa"), true);

$position = 0;
while (preg_match("{\\b$rexProtocol$rexDomain$rexPort$rexPath$rexQuery$rexFragment(?=[?.!,;:\"]?(\s|$))}", $text, &$match, PREG_OFFSET_CAPTURE, $position))
    list($url, $urlPosition) = $match[0];
    // Print the text leading up to the URL.
    print(htmlspecialchars(substr($text, $position, $urlPosition - $position)));
    $domain = $match[2][0];
    $port   = $match[3][0];
    $path   = $match[4][0];
    // Check if the TLD is valid - or that $domain is an IP address.
    $tld = strtolower(strrchr($domain, '.'));
    if (preg_match('{\.[0-9]{1,3}}', $tld) || isset($validTlds[$tld]))
        // Prepend http:// if no protocol specified
        $completeUrl = $match[1][0] ? $url : "http://$url";
        // Print the hyperlink.
        printf('<a href="%s">%s</a>', htmlspecialchars($completeUrl), htmlspecialchars("$domain$port$path"));
        // Not a valid URL.
    // Continue text parsing from after the URL.
    $position = $urlPosition + strlen($url);

// Print the remainder of the text.
print(htmlspecialchars(substr($text, $position)));

Solution 2 - Php

Here is something i found that is tried and tested

function make_links_blank($text)
  return  preg_replace(
             ([^="\']?)((?:https?|ftp|bf2|):\/\/[^<> \n\r]+)
       '/(^|\s)(www.[^<> \n\r]+)/iex',
       "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'\\1<a href=\"\\2\">\\2</a>\\3':'\\0'))",
       '<a\\1 target="_blank">',
       "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'\\1<a href=\"http://\\2\">\\2</a>\\3':'\\0'))",
       "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'<a href=\"mailto:\\0\">\\0</a>':'\\0'))"

It works for me. And it works for emails and URL's, Sorry to answer my own question. :(

But this one is the only that works

Here is the link where i found it :

Sry in advance for it being a experts-exchange.

Solution 3 - Php

You guyz are talking way to advance and complex stuff which is good for some situation, but mostly we need a simple careless solution. How about simply this?

preg_replace('/(http[s]{0,1}\:\/\/\S{4,})\s{0,}/ims', '<a href="$1" target="_blank">$1</a> ', $text_msg);

Just try it and let me know what crazy url it doesnt satisfy.

Solution 4 - Php

Here is the code using Regular Expressions in function

//Function definations
function MakeUrls($str)

$replace=array('<a href="$1" target="_blank">$1</a>', '<a href="http://$1" target="_blank">$1</a>');

return preg_replace($find,$replace,$str);
//Function testing
echo $str;

Solution 5 - Php

I've been using this function, it works for me

function AutoLinkUrls($str,$popup = FALSE){
    if (preg_match_all("#(^|\s|\()((http(s?)://)|(www\.))(\w+[^\s\)\<]+)#i", $str, $matches)){
	    $pop = ($popup == TRUE) ? " target=\"_blank\" " : "";
	    for ($i = 0; $i < count($matches['0']); $i++){
		    $period = '';
		    if (preg_match("|\.$|", $matches['6'][$i])){
			    $period = '.';
			    $matches['6'][$i] = substr($matches['6'][$i], 0, -1);
		    $str = str_replace($matches['0'][$i],
				    $matches['1'][$i].'<a href="http'.
				    $period, $str);
	    }//end for
    }//end if
    return $str;
}//end AutoLinkUrls

All credits goes to -


Solution 6 - Php

This RegEx should match any link except for these new 3+ character toplevel domains...


Match the leading part (proto://hostname, or just hostname)

( # http://, or https:// leading part (https?)://[-\w]+(\.\w[-\w])+ | # or, try to find a hostname with more specific sub-expression (?i: [a-z0-9] (?:[-a-z0-9][a-z0-9])? \. )+ # sub domains # Now ending .com, etc. For these, require lowercase (?-i: com\b | edu\b | biz\b | gov\b | in(?:t|fo)\b # .int or .info | mil\b | net\b | org\b | [a-z][a-z]\.[a-z][a-z]\b # two-letter country code ) )

Allow an optional port number

( : \d+ )?

The rest of the URL is optional, and begins with /

( / # The rest are heuristics for what seems to work well [^.!,?;"\'<>()[]{}\s\x7F-\xFF]* ( [.!,?]+ [^.!,?;"\'<>()\[\]{\}\s\x7F-\xFF]+ )* )? }ix

It's not written by me, I'm not quite sure where I got it from, sorry that I can give no credit...

Solution 7 - Php

this should get you email addresses:

$string = "bah bah [email protected] foo";
$match = preg_match('/[^\x00-\x20()<>@,;:\\".[\]\x7f-\xff]+(?:\.[^\x00-\x20()<>@,;:\\".[\]\x7f-\xff]+)*\@[^\x00-\x20()<>@,;:\\".[\]\x7f-\xff]+(?:\.[^\x00-\x20()<>@,;:\\".[\]\x7f-\xff]+)+/', $string, $array);

// outputs:
    [0] => [email protected]

Solution 8 - Php

I know this answer has been accepted and that this question is quite old, but it can be useful for other people looking for other implementations.

This is a modified version of the code posted by: Angel.King.47 on July 27,09:

$text = preg_replace(
   '/(^|\s|>)(www.[^<> \n\r]+)/iex',
   '/(^|\s|>)([_A-Za-z0-9-]+(\\.[A-Za-z]{2,3})?\\.[A-Za-z]{2,4}\\/[^<> \n\r]+)/iex',
   '/(?(?=<a[^>]*>.+<\/a>)(?:<a[^>]*>.+<\/a>)|([^="\']?)((?:https?):\/\/([^<> \n\r]+)))/iex'
   "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'\\1<a href=\"http://\\2\" target=\"_blank\">\\2</a>&nbsp;\\3':'\\0'))",
   "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'\\1<a href=\"http://\\2\" target=\"_blank\">\\2</a>&nbsp;\\4':'\\0'))",
   "stripslashes((strlen('\\2')>0?'\\1<a href=\"\\2\" target=\"_blank\">\\3</a>&nbsp;':'\\0'))",


  • I removed rules #2 and #3 (I'm not sure in which situations are useful).
  • Removed email parsing as I really don't need it.
  • I added one more rule which allows the recognition of URLs in the form: [domain]/* (without www). For example: "" (Multiple tld: domain.{2-3}.{2-4}/)
  • When parsing strings starting with "http://", it removes it from the link label.
  • Added "target='_blank'" to all links.
  • Urls can be specified just after any(?) tag. For example: <b></b>;

As "Søren Løvborg" has stated, this function does not escape the URLs. I tried his/her class but it just didn't work as I expected (If you don't trust your users, then try his/her code first).

Solution 9 - Php

As I mentioned in one of the comments above my VPS, which is running php 7, started emitting warnings Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead. The buffer after the replacement was empty/false.

I have rewritten the code and made some improvements. If you think that you should be in the author section feel free to edit the comment above the function make_links_blank name. I am intentionally not using the closing php ?> to avoid inserting whitespace in the output.


class App_Updater_String_Util {
    public static function get_default_link_attribs( $regex_matches = [] ) {
        $t = ' target="_blank" ';
        return $t;

     * App_Updater_String_Util::set_protocol();
     * @param string $link
     * @return string
    public static function set_protocol( $link ) {
        if ( ! preg_match( '#^https?#si', $link ) ) {
            $link = 'http://' . $link;
        return $link;

     * Goes through text and makes whatever text that look like a link an html link
     * which opens in a new tab/window (by adding target attribute).
     * Usage: App_Updater_String_Util::make_links_blank( $text );
     * @param str $text
     * @return str
     * @see
     * @author Angel.King.47 |
     * @author Svetoslav Marinov (Slavi) |
    public static function make_links_blank( $text ) {
        $patterns = [
                 ([^="\']?)((?:https?|ftp):\/\/[^<> \n\r]+)
             )#six' => function ( $matches ) {
                $r1 = empty( $matches[1] ) ? '' : $matches[1];
                $r2 = empty( $matches[2] ) ? '' : $matches[2];
                $r3 = empty( $matches[3] ) ? '' : $matches[3];
                $r2 = empty( $r2 ) ? '' : App_Updater_String_Util::set_protocol( $r2 );
                $res = ! empty( $r2 ) ? "$r1<a href=\"$r2\">$r2</a>$r3" : $matches[0];
                $res = stripslashes( $res );

                return $res;

            '#(^|\s)((?:https?://|www\.|https?://www\.)[^<>\ \n\r]+)#six' => function ( $matches ) {
                $r1 = empty( $matches[1] ) ? '' : $matches[1];
                $r2 = empty( $matches[2] ) ? '' : $matches[2];
                $r3 = empty( $matches[3] ) ? '' : $matches[3];
                $r2 = ! empty( $r2 ) ? App_Updater_String_Util::set_protocol( $r2 ) : '';
                $res = ! empty( $r2 ) ? "$r1<a href=\"$r2\">$r2</a>$r3" : $matches[0];
                $res = stripslashes( $res );
                return $res;

            // Remove any target attribs (if any)
            '#<a([^>]*)target="?[^"\']+"?#si' => '<a\\1',

            // Put the target attrib
            '#<a([^>]+)>#si' => '<a\\1 target="_blank">',

            // Make emails clickable Mailto links
                (\\.[\w\-]+)*)/six' => function ( $matches ) {

                $r = $matches[0];
                $res = ! empty( $r ) ? "<a href=\"mailto:$r\">$r</a>" : $r;
                $res = stripslashes( $res );

                return $res;

        foreach ( $patterns as $regex => $callback_or_replace ) {
            if ( is_callable( $callback_or_replace ) ) {
                $text = preg_replace_callback( $regex, $callback_or_replace, $text );
            } else {
                $text = preg_replace( $regex, $callback_or_replace, $text );

        return $text;

Solution 10 - Php

Something along the lines of :

if(preg_match('@^http://(.*)\s|$@g', $textarea_url, $matches)) {
    echo '<a href=http://", $matches[1], '">', $matches[1], '</a>';

Solution 11 - Php

This class changes the urls into text and while keeping the home url as it is. I hope this will help and save time for you.Enjoy.

class RegClass 

     function preg_callback_url($matches) 
        //Get the matched URL  text <a>text</a>
        $text = $matches[2];
        //Get the matched URL link <a href ="">text</a>
        $url = $matches[1];

        if($url=='href =""'){
    	 //replace all a tag as it is
    	 return '<a href='.$url.' rel="nofollow"> '.$text.' </a>'; 
    	 //replace all a tag to text
    	 return " $text " ;
function ParseText($text){ 
  	$text = preg_replace( "/www\./", "http://www.", $text );
        $regex ="/http:\/\/http:\/\/www\./"
  	$text = preg_replace( $regex, "http://www.", $text );
        $regex2 = "/https:\/\/http:\/\/www\./";
  	$text = preg_replace( $regex2, "https://www.", $text );
        return preg_replace_callback('/<a\s(.+?)>(.+?)<\/a>/is',
                array( &$this,        'preg_callback_url'), $text); 

$regexp = new RegClass();
echo $regexp->ParseText($text);

Solution 12 - Php

If you want to trust the IANA you can get your current list of offcially supported TLDs in use there like:

  $validTLDs = 
explode("\n", file_get_contents('')); //get the official list of valid tlds
  array_shift($validTLDs); //throw away first line containing meta data
  array_pop($validTLDs); //throw away last element which is empty

Makes Søren Løvborg's solution #2 a bit less verbose and spares you the hassle of updating the list, nowadays new tlds are thrown out so carelessly ;)

Solution 13 - Php

This worked for me (turned one of the answers into a PHP function)

function make_urls_from_text ($text){
   return preg_replace('/(http[s]{0,1}\:\/\/\S{4,})\s{0,}/ims', '<a href="$1" target="_blank">$1 </a>', $text);

Solution 14 - Php

This class I created works for my needs, admittedly it does needs some work though;

class addLink
    public function link($string)
        $expression = "/(?i)\b((?:https?:\/\/|www\d{0,3}[.]|[a-z0-9.\-]+[.][a-z]{2,63}\/)(?:[^\s()<>]+|\(([^\s()<>]+|(\([^\s()<>]+\)))*\))+(?:\(([^\s()<>]+|(\([^\s()<>]+\)))*\)|[^\s`!()\[\]{};:'\".,<>?«»“”‘’]))/";
        if(preg_match_all($expression, $string, $matches) == 1)// If the pattern is found then
            $string = preg_replace($expression, '<a href="'.$matches[0][0].'" target="_blank">$1</a>', $string);
        return $string;       

An example of using this code;

include 'PHP/addLink.php';

    $al = new addLink();                  
    echo 'Class not found...';

$paragraph = $al->link($paragraph);

Solution 15 - Php

This is just a variation of the solution posted by Dharmendra Jadon, so if you like it up vote his instead!

I just added a parameter to make opening the link in a new window (target="_blank") optional, as I saw this in some of the other solutions and liked the flexibility:

function MakeUrls($str, $popup = FALSE)

    $replace=array('<a href="$1"' . ($popup ? ' target="_blank"' : '') . '>$1</a>', '<a href="http://$1"' . ($popup ? ' target="_blank"' : '') . '>$1</a>');

    return preg_replace($find,$replace,$str);

Solution 16 - Php

This should get your twitter handle without touching on your email /(?<=^|(?<=[^a-zA-Z0-9-.]))@([A-Za-z]+[A-Za-z0-9]+)/i

Solution 17 - Php

While matching the full url spec is difficult, here's a regular expression that generally does a good job:


To use this in preg_replace, however, you need to escape it. As so:

$pattern = "/([\\w-]+(\\.[\\w-]+)*@([a-z0-9-]+(\\.[a-z0-9-]+)*?\\.[a-z]{2,6}|(\\d{1,3}\\.){3}\\d{1,3})(:\\d{4})?)/";
$replaced_texttext = preg_replace($pattern, '<a href="$0" title="$0">$0</a>', $text);


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Content TypeOriginal AuthorOriginal Content on Stackoverflow
QuestionAngel.King.47View Question on Stackoverflow
Solution 1 - PhpSøren LøvborgView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 2 - PhpAngel.King.47View Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 3 - PhpRaheel HasanView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 4 - PhpDharmendra JadonView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 5 - PhpArmandView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 6 - PhpfresskomaView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 7 - PhpStephen FuhryView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 8 - PhplepeView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 9 - PhpSvetoslav MarinovView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 10 - PhpOneOfOneView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 11 - Phpamarjit singhView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 12 - PhpMaxView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 13 - PhpShawn GervaisView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 14 - Phpuser13611442View Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 15 - Phpdan-ielView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 16 - PhpMfundo MtseluView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 17 - PhpAndré ErikssonView Answer on Stackoverflow