What Is an HTACCESS File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert HTACCESS Files

A file with the HTACCESS file extension is an Apache Access Configuration file that stands for "hypertext access." These are text files used to invoke an exception to the global settings that apply to the various directories of an Apache website.

Placing the file in one directory will override the global settings that previously flowed down to that directory and its subdirectories. For example, HTACCESS files can be created for redirecting a URL, preventing directory listing, banning specific IP addresses, preventing hotlinking, and more.

Another common use for this file is for pointing to an HTPASSWD file that stores credentials preventing visitors from accessing that particular directory of files.

HTACCESS file in Windows 10 that opens with Notepad

Unlike other types of files, these don't contain a file name; they look like this, with just the file extension: .htaccess.

How to Open an HTACCESS File

Since these files apply to web servers that are running the Apache Web Server software, they don't take effect unless they're used within that context.

However, even a simple text editor is able to open or edit the file, like Windows Notepad or one from our Best Free Text Editors list. Another popular, though not free, HTACCESS editor is Adobe Dreamweaver.

How to Convert the File

You can convert the file to a ​Ngnix web server file using this online HTACCESS to nginx converter. You have to paste its contents into the textbox to convert the code to one recognizable by Ngnix.

Similar to the nginx converter, the file can be converted to Web.Config using codebreak's online .htaccess to Web.Config converter. This one is useful if you want the file to work with an ASP.NET web application.

Sample File

Below is a sample .HTACCESS file. This particular file might be useful for a website that's currently under development and not yet ready for the public.

AuthType basic
AuthName "Ooops! Temporarily Under Construction..."
AuthUserFile /.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
Require valid-user # Password prompt for everyone else
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from all
Allow from 192.168.10.10 # The developer's IP address
Allow from w3.org
Allow from googlebot.com # Allows Google to crawl your pages
Satisfy Any # No password required if host/IP is allowed

Every line of this file has a particular purpose. The /.htpasswd entry, for example, indicates that this directory is hidden from public view unless a password is used. However, if the IP address shown above is used to access the page, then the password isn't required.

Need More Help?

You should be able to tell from the sample above that these files can do a lot of different things. It's true that they're not the easiest files to work with.

You can read more about how to use an HTACCESS file for blocking IP addresses, preventing viewers from opening the file, blocking traffic to the directory, requiring SSL, disabling website downloaders/rippers, and more at JavaScript Kit, ApacheWordPress, and DigitalOcean.