Apache Custom Error Messages

Most of the users that come to your site, will not know what a “Internal Server Error” or “404” error is. They will not bother to check out the Apache manual either.

Custom error messages are not something to (just) show off with. In terms of (web-)usability, you are able to display a more friendlier or meaningful message to your users, and everyone will live happier ever after.

A lot of people still ask me how to add custom error pages to their website. Since some ISPs charge an arm and a leg to add them, here is how it is done – for free!

You log onto your shell and create a file called .htaccess in your document root. This can be achieved if you type “pico .htaccess”, “ee .htaccess” or “joe .htaccess” on the shell prompt. Let’s assume that you want to display a custom error page for “File not found”-errors (code: 404).

Put the following code inside the .htaccess:


ErrorDocument 404 /path/to/error/document.html


Save it. Viola! It’s all done.

You may also refer to a remote document:


ErrorDocument 404 http://errors.domain.com/404.php


The syntax is as follows:


ErrorDocument <3-digit-code> action


Can’t get enough of them?

Successful Client Requests
200 OK
201 Created
202 Accepted
203 Non-Authorative Information
204 No Content
205 Reset Content
206 Partial Content
Client Request Redirected
300 Multiple Choices
301 Moved Permanently
302 Moved Temporarily
303 See Other
304 Not Modified
305 Use Proxy
Client Request Errors
400 Bad Request
401 Authorization Required
402 Payment Required (not used yet)
403 Forbidden
404 Not Found
405 Method Not Allowed
406 Not Acceptable (encoding)
407 Proxy Authentication Required
408 Request Timed Out
409 Conflicting Request
410 Gone
411 Content Length Required
412 Precondition Failed
413 Request Entity Too Long
414 Request URI Too Long
415 Unsupported Media Type
Server Errors
500 Internal Server Error
501 Not Implemented
502 Bad Gateway
503 Service Unavailable
504 Gateway Timeout
505 HTTP Version Not Supported

Have fun!

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