10 useful .htaccess snippets to have in your toolbox

.htaccess, the file which control the Apache webserver, is very useful and allows you to do a lot of things. In this article, I have compiled 10 .htaccess snippets that any web developer should have in his toolbox.

Before editing your .htaccess file, always make a backup so you can restore it if needed.

Remove www in url

For SEO reasons, you might always remove (or use) the www prefix in your urls. The following snippet will remove the www from your website url and redirect any url with the www to the non-www version.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^your-site.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://your-site.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Source: http://css-tricks.com/snippets/htaccess/www-no-www/

Prevent hotlinking

Hotlinking is a bad practice that consist of using the images from another site on yours. When you’re hotlinked by someone else, your bandwidth is used for someone else profit. Of course, you may want to prevent hotlinkers. Just add the following snippet to your .htaccess file after replacing the example urls by your own urls.

RewriteEngine On
#Replace ?mysite\.com/ with your blog url
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(.+\.)?mysite\.com/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
#Replace /images/nohotlink.jpg with your "don't hotlink" image url
RewriteRule .*\.(jpe?g|gif|bmp|png)$ /images/nohotlink.jpg [L]


Redirect all WordPress feeds to feedburner

Most bloggers are using Feedburner, a web service that lets you know how many people are reading your blog via feeds. If you’re using WordPress, you should redirect all WordPress feeds (rss, atom, etc) to your feedburner feed. Modify lines 2 and 3, and then paste this code to your .htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_alias.c>
 RedirectMatch 301 /feed/(atom|rdf|rss|rss2)/?$ http://feedburner.com/yourfeed/
 RedirectMatch 301 /comments/feed/(atom|rdf|rss|rss2)/?$ http://feedburner.com/yourfeed/

Source: http://www.wprecipes.com/how-to-redirect-wordpress-rss-feeds-to-feedburner-with-htaccess

Create custom error pages

Tired of the old errors pages of your site? Just create some html files with the look you want, upload them to your server, and add the following to your .htaccess file:

ErrorDocument 400 /errors/badrequest.html
ErrorDocument 401 /errors/authreqd.html
ErrorDocument 403 /errors/forbid.html
ErrorDocument 404 /errors/notfound.html
ErrorDocument 500 /errors/serverr.html

Source: http://css-tricks.com/snippets/htaccess/custom-error-pages/

Force download of specific files

When offering some files such as mp3s, eps or xls, for download on your site, you may force download instead of letting the browser decide what to do.
This snippet will force the download of .xls and .eps files from your server.

<Files *.xls>
  ForceType application/octet-stream
  Header set Content-Disposition attachment
<Files *.eps>
  ForceType application/octet-stream
  Header set Content-Disposition attachment

Source: http://www.givegoodweb.com/post/30/forcing-a-download-with-apache-and-htaccess

Log PHP errors

This snippet is an interesting way to log errors from your php file into a log file. Just create a php_error.log file somewhere on your server, and add the snippet to your .htaccess file. Don’t forget to modify the log file location on line 7.

# display no errs to user
php_flag display_startup_errors off
php_flag display_errors off
php_flag html_errors off
# log to file
php_flag log_errors on
php_value error_log /location/to/php_error.log

Source: http://css-tricks.com/snippets/htaccess/php-error-logging/

Remove file extensions from urls

File extensions may be useful to developers, but there’s absolutely no need for your site visitors to be able to see them. This snippet will remove the .html extension on any html files. Of course, this code can be easily adapted to remove extensions from other file extensions such as php.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}\.html -f
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ $1.html
# Replace html with your file extension, eg: php, htm, asp

Source: http://eisabainyo.net/weblog/2007/08/19/removing-file-extension-via-htaccess

Prevent directory listing

On your web server, when a directory do not have an index file, Apache automatically create a list of all files from the current directory. If you do not wish that anyone can see which files are on your server, just add the following code to your .htaccess file to prevent automatic directory listing.

Options -Indexes

Reduce pages weight by compressing static data

Do you know that it is possible to send compressed data to the visitors, which will be decompressed by the client? This code will definitely save you (and your visitor) bandwidth and reduce your pages weight.

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml application/xml application/xhtml+xml text/javascript text/css application/x-javascript
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

Automatically add utf-8 charset to files

In order to avoid encoding problems, you can force a specific encoding directly on your .htaccess file. That way, you’ll ensure that your html documents will always render correctly, even if your forget to add a <meta http-equiv="Content-Type"> directive on your html pages.

<FilesMatch "\.(htm|html|css|js)$">
AddDefaultCharset UTF-8

Source: http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/setting-charset-in-htaccess.html