HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request or response. An HTTP header consists of its case-insensitive name followed by a colon (
:), then by its value. Whitespace before the value is ignored.
Custom proprietary headers have historically been used with an
X- prefix, but this convention was deprecated in June 2012 because of the inconveniences it caused when nonstandard fields became standard in RFC 6648; others are listed in an IANA registry, whose original content was defined in RFC 4229. IANA also maintains a registry of proposed new HTTP headers.
Headers can be grouped according to their contexts:
- Request headers
Contain more information about the resource to be fetched, or about the client requesting the resource.
- Response headers
Hold additional information about the response, like its location or about the server providing it.
- Representation headers
Contain information about the body of the resource, like its MIME type, or encoding/compression applied.
- Payload headers
Contain representation-independent information about payload data, including content length and the encoding used for transport.
Headers can also be grouped according to how proxies handle them:
- End-to-end headers
These headers must be transmitted to the final recipient of the message: the server for a request, or the client for a response. Intermediate proxies must retransmit these headers unmodified and caches must store them.
- Hop-by-hop headers
These headers are meaningful only for a single transport-level connection, and must not be retransmitted by proxies or cached. Note that only hop-by-hop headers may be set using the
Defines the authentication method that should be used to access a resource.
Contains the credentials to authenticate a user-agent with a server.
Defines the authentication method that should be used to access a resource behind a proxy server.
Contains the credentials to authenticate a user agent with a proxy server.
The time, in seconds, that the object has been in a proxy cache.
Directives for caching mechanisms in both requests and responses.
Clears browsing data (e.g. cookies, storage, cache) associated with the requesting website.
The date/time after which the response is considered stale.
The last modification date of the resource, used to compare several versions of the same resource. It is less accurate than
ETag, but easier to calculate in some environments. Conditional requests using
If-Unmodified-Sinceuse this value to change the behavior of the request.
Makes the request conditional, and applies the method only if the stored resource matches one of the given ETags.
Makes the request conditional, and applies the method only if the stored resource doesn't match any of the given ETags. This is used to update caches (for safe requests), or to prevent uploading a new resource when one already exists.
Makes the request conditional, and expects the resource to be transmitted only if it has been modified after the given date. This is used to transmit data only when the cache is out of date.
Makes the request conditional, and expects the resource to be transmitted only if it has not been modified after the given date. This ensures the coherence of a new fragment of a specific range with previous ones, or to implement an optimistic concurrency control system when modifying existing documents.
Determines how to match request headers to decide whether a cached response can be used rather than requesting a fresh one from the origin server.
For more details, refer to the Content negotiation article.
Informs the server about the types of data that can be sent back.
The encoding algorithm, usually a compression algorithm, that can be used on the resource sent back.
Informs the server about the human language the server is expected to send back. This is a hint and is not necessarily under the full control of the user: the server should always pay attention not to override an explicit user choice (like selecting a language from a dropdown).
For more information, refer to the CORS documentation.
Indicates whether the response to the request can be exposed when the credentials flag is true.
Used in response to a preflight request to indicate which HTTP headers can be used when making the actual request.
Specifies the methods allowed when accessing the resource in response to a preflight request.
Indicates whether the response can be shared.
Indicates which headers can be exposed as part of the response by listing their names.
Indicates how long the results of a preflight request can be cached.
Used when issuing a preflight request to let the server know which HTTP headers will be used when the actual request is made.
Used when issuing a preflight request to let the server know which HTTP method will be used when the actual request is made.
Indicates where a fetch originates from.
Specifies origins that are allowed to see values of attributes retrieved via features of the Resource Timing API, which would otherwise be reported as zero due to cross-origin restrictions.
Indicates if the resource transmitted should be displayed inline (default behavior without the header), or if it should be handled like a download and the browser should present a "Save As" dialog.
The size of the resource, in decimal number of bytes.
Indicates the media type of the resource.
Used to specify the compression algorithm.
Describes the human language(s) intended for the audience, so that it allows a user to differentiate according to the users' own preferred language.
Indicates an alternate location for the returned data.
Contains an Internet email address for a human user who controls the requesting user agent.
Specifies the domain name of the server (for virtual hosting), and (optionally) the TCP port number on which the server is listening.
The address of the previous web page from which a link to the currently requested page was followed.
Governs which referrer information sent in the
Refererheader should be included with requests made.
Contains a characteristic string that allows the network protocol peers to identify the application type, operating system, software vendor or software version of the requesting software user agent.
Indicates if the server supports range requests, and if so in which unit the range can be expressed.
Indicates the part of a document that the server should return.
Creates a conditional range request that is only fulfilled if the given etag or date matches the remote resource. Used to prevent downloading two ranges from incompatible version of the resource.
Indicates where in a full body message a partial message belongs.
Allows a server to declare an embedder policy for a given document.
Prevents other domains from opening/controlling a window.
Prevents other domains from reading the response of the resources to which this header is applied. See also CORP explainer article.
Controls resources the user agent is allowed to load for a given page.
Allows web developers to experiment with policies by monitoring, but not enforcing, their effects. These violation reports consist of JSON documents sent via an HTTP
POSTrequest to the specified URI.
Provides a mechanism to allow and deny the use of browser features in a website's own frame, and in
<iframe>s that it embeds.
Force communication using HTTPS instead of HTTP.
Sends a signal to the server expressing the client's preference for an encrypted and authenticated response, and that it can successfully handle the
Disables MIME sniffing and forces browser to use the type given in
Specifies if a cross-domain policy file (
crossdomain.xml) is allowed. The file may define a policy to grant clients, such as Adobe's Flash Player (now obsolete), Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Silverlight (now obsolete), or Apache Flex, permission to handle data across domains that would otherwise be restricted due to the Same-Origin Policy. See the Cross-domain Policy File Specification for more information.
May be set by hosting environments or other frameworks and contains information about them while not providing any usefulness to the application or its visitors. Unset this header to avoid exposing potential vulnerabilities.
Enables cross-site scripting filtering.
Fetch metadata request headers provide information about the context from which the request originated. A server can use them to make decisions about whether a request should be allowed, based on where the request came from and how the resource will be used.
Indicates the relationship between a request initiator's origin and its target's origin. It is a Structured Header whose value is a token with possible values
Indicates the request's mode to a server. It is a Structured Header whose value is a token with possible values
Indicates whether or not a navigation request was triggered by user activation. It is a Structured Header whose value is a boolean so possible values are
?0for false and
Indicates the request's destination. It is a Structured Header whose value is a token with possible values
The following request headers are not strictly "fetch metadata request headers", but similarly provide information about the context of how a resource will be used. A server might use them to modify its caching behavior, or the information that is returned:
Indicates the purpose of the request, when the purpose is something other than immediate use by the user-agent. The header currently has one possible value,
prefetch, which indicates that the resource is being fetched preemptively for a possible future navigation.
A request header sent in preemptive request to
fetch()a resource during service worker boot. The value, which is set with
NavigationPreloadManager.setHeaderValue(), can be used to inform a server that a different resource should be returned than in a normal
Used to specify a server endpoint for the browser to send warning and error reports to.
Used to list alternate ways to reach this service.
Used to identify the alternative service in use.
Contains the date and time at which the message was originated.
This entity-header field provides a means for serializing one or more links in HTTP headers. It is semantically equivalent to the HTML
Indicates how long the user agent should wait before making a follow-up request.
Communicates one or more metrics and descriptions for the given request-response cycle.
Links generated code to a source map.
This HTTP/1.1 (only) header can be used to upgrade an already established client/server connection to a different protocol (over the same transport protocol). For example, it can be used by a client to upgrade a connection from HTTP 1.1 to HTTP 2.0, or an HTTP or HTTPS connection into a WebSocket.
HTTP Client hints are a set of request headers that provide useful information about the client such as device type and network conditions, and allow servers to optimize what is served for those conditions.
Servers proactively requests the client hint headers they are interested in from the client using
Accept-CH. The client may then choose to include the requested headers in subsequent requests.
Servers can advertise support for Client Hints using the
Accept-CHheader field or an equivalent HTML
The different categories of client hints are listed below.
User agent client hints
The UA client hints are request headers that provide information about the user agent, the platform/architecture it is running on, and user preferences set on the user agent or platform:
User agent's branding and version.
User agent's underlying platform architecture.
User agent's underlying CPU architecture bitness (for example "64" bit).
Full version for each brand in the user agent's brand list.
User agent is running on a mobile device or, more generally, prefers a "mobile" user experience.
User agent's device model.
User agent's underlying operation system/platform.
User agent's underlying operation system version.
User's preference of dark or light color scheme.
User's preference to see fewer animations and content layout shifts.
Device client hints
Approximate amount of available client RAM memory. This is part of the Device Memory API.
Network client hints
Network client hints allow a server to choose what information is sent based on the user choice and network bandwidth and latency.
Approximate bandwidth of the client's connection to the server, in Mbps. This is part of the Network Information API.
Application layer round trip time (RTT) in milliseconds, which includes the server processing time. This is part of the Network Information API.
onthat indicates the user agent's preference for reduced data usage.
Indicates whether the user consents to a website or service selling or sharing their personal information with third parties.
Provides a mechanism to allow web applications to isolate their origins.
Defines a mechanism that enables developers to declare a network error reporting policy.
A client can express the desired push policy for a request by sending an
Accept-Push-Policyheader field in the request.
A client can send the
Accept-Signatureheader field to indicate intention to take advantage of any available signatures and to indicate what kinds of signatures it supports.
Indicates that the request has been conveyed in TLS early data.
Push-Policydefines the server behavior regarding push when processing a request.
Signatureheader field conveys a list of signatures for an exchange, each one accompanied by information about how to determine the authority of and refresh that signature.
Signed-Headersheader field identifies an ordered list of response header fields to include in a signature.
Set by a navigation target to opt-in to using various higher-risk loading modes. For example, cross-origin, same-site prerendering requires a
Identifies the originating IP addresses of a client connecting to a web server through an HTTP proxy or a load balancer.
Identifies the original host requested that a client used to connect to your proxy or load balancer.
Identifies the protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) that a client used to connect to your proxy or load balancer.
X-Robots-TagHTTP header is used to indicate how a web page is to be indexed within public search engine results. The header is effectively equivalent to
<meta name="robots" content="…">.
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