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Using .htaccess for advanced purposes

Find out what else you can do with the .htaccess file

Prevent the content of a directory from being listed

To prevent users from listing all the files contained in a directory in the absence of an index (.cgi, .html, .php etc.), create an .htaccess file containing the following line:

Options -Indexes

Redirect error messages

If you want to use custom error messages or associate each type of error with an associated error page, create a .htaccess file containing the following lines:

ErrorDocument error number 

Replace "error_number" with the corresponding number. The most common errors are as follows:

  • 401: Authorisation required. This error is generated when a visitor enters an incorrect username/password when acessing a protected file or directory.
  • 403: Access denied. This error is created when accessing a directory which does not contain an index.html (or index.cgi, etc.) file and the server configuration prohibits files in the directory being displayed.
  • 404: Not Found. The file the visitor is trying to -see doesn't exist.
  • 500: Internal Server Error. Usually this indicates a permissions error on your CGI script.

Replace "message_or_destination" with the action to take. To display a simple message, type the following message in inverted commas. To redirect to a page, use the file's access page. Here are to examples, to clarify:

  • You should write "Sorry you do not have permission to access this file" when you get a 403 error. You add the line underneath your .htaccess file:
ErrorDocument 403 "Sorry, you do not have the right to access this file"
  • You should send 404 errors to your custom 404.html page (for your domain:
ErrorDocument 404

You can also redirect the error to a CGI script which will show a message

You can also redirect the error to a CGI script that will display a message, redirect the visitor to another file depending on the URL that was originally requested (available in the REQUEST_URI environment variable), and/or send an email, etc. To do this, add the following line to your .htaccess file:

Errordocument 404 /cgi-bin/error.cgi?type=404

You only need to make an adjustment if the page requested is in https (SSL). In this case, you have to add:

Errordocument 401 /~login/error.html

If that doesn't work, check the Internet Explorer properties > Advanced tab and then untick "Show simplified HTTP error messages".

Specify a different index file

The server default for a directory's default file is index.html, index.htm or index.php. If you want to set your DirectoryIndex to another file, you can insert the code format to your .htaccess file:

DirectoryIndex file_name

For example, if you want to use the home.html as the index page, add the following code:

DirectoryIndex home.html


To do this, click on: This link

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