Remember that header() must be called before any actual output is sent, either by normal HTML tags, blank lines in a file, or from PHP. It is a very common error to read code with include(), or require(), functions, or another file access function, and have spaces or empty lines that are output before header() is called. The same problem exists when using a single PHP/HTML file.
/* This will give an error. Note the output
* above, which is before the header() call */
The header string.
There are two special-case header calls. The first is a header
that starts with the string "
HTTP/" (case is not
significant), which will be used to figure out the HTTP status
code to send. For example, if you have configured Apache to
use a PHP script to handle requests for missing files (using
ErrorDocument directive), you may want to
make sure that your script generates the proper status code.
header("HTTP/1.0 404 Not Found");
The second special case is the "Location:" header. Not only does
it send this header back to the browser, but it also returns a
REDIRECT (302) status code to the browser unless
3xx status code has already been set.
header("Location: http://www.example.com/"); /* Redirect browser */
/* Make sure that code below does not get executed when we redirect. */
The optional replace parameter indicates
whether the header should replace a previous similar header, or
add a second header of the same type. By default it will replace,
but if you pass in
FALSE as the second argument you can force
multiple headers of the same type. For example:
header('WWW-Authenticate: NTLM', false);
Forces the HTTP response code to the specified value.
|4.4.2 and 5.1.2||This function now prevents more than one header to be sent at once as a protection against header injection attacks.|
|4.3.0||The http_response_code parameter was added.|
|4.0.4||The replace parameter was added.|
If you want the user to be prompted to save the data you are sending, such as a generated PDF file, you can use the » Content-Disposition header to supply a recommended filename and force the browser to display the save dialog.
// We'll be outputting a PDF
// It will be called downloaded.pdf
header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="downloaded.pdf"');
// The PDF source is in original.pdf
PHP scripts often generate dynamic content that must not be cached by the client browser or any proxy caches between the server and the client browser. Many proxies and clients can be forced to disable caching with:
header("Cache-Control: no-cache, must-revalidate"); // HTTP/1.1
header("Expires: Mon, 26 Jul 1997 05:00:00 GMT"); // Date in the past
You may find that your pages aren't cached even if you don't output all of the headers above. There are a number of options that users may be able to set for their browser that change its default caching behavior. By sending the headers above, you should override any settings that may otherwise cause the output of your script to be cached.
Additionally, session_cache_limiter() and
setting can be used to automatically generate the correct
caching-related headers when sessions are being used.
As of PHP 4, you can use output buffering to get around this problem,
with the overhead of all of your output to the browser being buffered
in the server until you send it. You can do this by calling
ob_start() and ob_end_flush()
in your script, or setting the
configuration directive on in your
server configuration files.
The HTTP status header line will always be the first sent to the client, regardless of the actual header() call being the first or not. The status may be overridden by calling header() with a new status line at any time unless the HTTP headers have already been sent.
There is a bug in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 that prevents this from working. There is no workaround. There is also a bug in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 that interferes with this, which can be resolved by upgrading to Service Pack 2 or later.
If safe mode is enabled the
uid of the script is added to the
WWW-Authenticate header if you set
this header (used for HTTP Authentication).
HTTP/1.1 requires an absolute URI as argument to
including the scheme, hostname and absolute path, but
some clients accept relative URIs. You can usually use
and dirname() to make an absolute URI from a
relative one yourself:
/* Redirect to a different page in the current directory that was requested */
$host = $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
$uri = rtrim(dirname($_SERVER['PHP_SELF']), '/\\');
$extra = 'mypage.php';
Session ID is not passed with Location header even if session.use_trans_sid is
enabled. It must by passed manually using