Clean URLs

By default, Drupal passes path arguments to itself via its internally generated URLs. This results in URLs that look like the following: "" Notice the rather unsightly "?q=". Besides being unaesthetic and hard to read, it also stops many search engines from indexing your site.

You can tell Drupal to use "clean URLs", eliminating the "?q=" in internal URLs. Note that this works only for Apache servers which have mod_rewrite installed.

Warning. Enabling "Clean URLs" if your server is not properly configured can make it difficult to navigate back to administration pages to undo your mistake. If you find yourself in this situation, you can return to the administrative settings page by typing in the URL in the 'non-clean' form:

Enabling clean URLs involves three steps:

  1. Enable mod_rewrite for Apache. Please talk to your web host or consult the Apache documentation for mod_rewrite to get more information on how to do this. At a minimum, this will involve making sure that mod_rewrite is enabled for your installation of Apache. It will have to be either compiled-in or made available as a loadable module. In the latter case, make sure to tell Apache to load the module by including
     LoadModule rewrite_module modules/

    in your Apache configuration file.

  2. Edit your Apache configuration files for your site: the configuration information may be found in httpd.conf, a virtual-host-specific file, or in an .htaccess file in your Drupal installation directory. The main configuration option which may need to be changed for your site is the RewriteBase. For example, if your Apache DocumentRoot is /var/www/ (i.e., /var/www/index.html is what is displayed when you point your browser at and your Drupal installation is installed in the subdirectory /var/www/mysite/, then the RewriteBase should be set to /mysite.
  3. Finally, enable clean URLs on your administration/settings page. First, see if you can go to the settings page on your site using clean URLs: type in the URL (where is replaced by your hostname). If you get no errors and get to the same page you would have gotten to by clicking on "administer" then "settings" , then you know that you have setup the ReWriteRule rules successfully and can then click the Yes checkbox for "Clean URLs:"

Note: The standard Drupal installation contains a sample .htaccess file which supports clean URLs. It is easy to miss copying this file, because of the leading "dot".

Copyright 2005