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How to Disable Directory Browsing in WordPress

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Do you want to disable directory browsing in WordPress?

Directory browsing can put your site at risk by showing important information to hackers, which can be used to exploit vulnerabilities in your site’s plugins, themes, or even your hosting server.

In this article, we will show you how you can disable directory browsing in WordPress.

How to disable directory browsing in WordPress

What Does Disabling Directory Browsing in WordPress Do?

Every time someone visits your website, your web server will process that request.

Usually, the server delivers an index file to the visitor’s browser, such as index.html. However, if the server can’t find an index file, it may instead show all the files and folders in the requested directory.

This is called directory browsing, and it’s often enabled by default on your hosting server.

If you’ve ever visited a site and seen a list of files and folders instead of a webpage, then you’ve seen directory browsing in action.

A WordPress site with directory browsing enabled

The problem is that hackers can use directory browsing to see the files that make up your website, including all the themes and plugins you use.

If any of these themes or plugins have known vulnerabilities, then hackers can use this knowledge to take control of your WordPress blog or website, steal your data, or perform other actions.

Attackers may also use directory browsing to look at the confidential information inside your files and folders. They might even copy your website’s contents, including content that you would usually charge for, such as ebook downloads or online courses.

This is why it’s considered a best practice to disable directory browsing in WordPress.

How to Check if Directory Browsing is Enabled in WordPress?

The easiest way to check whether directory browsing is currently enabled for your WordPress website is by simply visiting the /wp-includes/ folder link like this:

You’ll want to replace with your website’s URL.

If you get a 403 Forbidden or similar message, then directory browsing is already disabled on your WordPress website.

A website with directory browsing disabled

If you see a list of files and folders instead, then this means that directory browsing is enabled for your website.

A WordPress site with directory browsing enabled

Since this makes your website more vulnerable to attack, you’ll typically want to block directory browsing in WordPress.

How to Disable Directory Browsing in WordPress

To disable directory listing, you’ll need to add some code to your site’s .htaccess file.

To access the file, you’ll need an FTP client, or you can use the file manager app inside your WordPress hosting control panel.

If this is your first time using FTP, then you can see our complete guide on how to connect to your site using FTP.

After connecting to your site, simply open your website’s ‘public’ folder and find the .htaccess file. You can edit the .htaccess file by downloading it to your desktop and then opening it in a text editor like Notepad.

At the very bottom of the file, simply add the following code:

Options -Indexes

It will look something like this:

The WordPress .htaccess file

Once you’re done, save your .htaccess file and upload it back to your server using an FTP client.

That’s it. Now if you visit the same URL, you’ll get a 403 Forbidden or similar message.

How to disable directory browsing in WordPress

Expert Tip: If you suspect your WordPress website may have been hacked, then see our guide on fixing a hacked WordPress website. Alternatively, you can take a look at our professional hacked WordPress site repair service and hire professional WordPress security experts to clean your website.

We hope this article helped you learn how to disable directory browsing in WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress security guide or see our expert pick of the best WordPress security plugins.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

99 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Dennis Muthomi says

    I noticed that I have directory browsing disabled on my WordPress site, because I got a 403 error when trying to access wp-includes, yet I don’t remember ever having edited my .htaccess file to do so.
    Does WordPress automatically disable directory browsing during initial installation?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Unless there was a recent change it does not by default, it may be your hosting provider’s default settings for htaccess.


      • Dennis Muthomi says

        That’s what I was suspecting also, thanks for clarifying that WordPress doesn’t disable directory browsing by default.
        And the respond too :)

  3. Dayo Olobayo says

    I didn’t even know that this vulnerability existed. Just checked mine and got the 403 error. which means directory browsing is disabled. Thank you.

  4. Jiří Vaněk says

    Thanks for the advice. On directory browsing, or that I have it enabled, the AIO SEO plugin keeps warning me. I have currently solved the problem by making the folders have an index file that is empty. Is it possible to take this as one of the possible solutions?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You can try that method but we would still recommend the htaccess method from our guide.


      • Jiří Vaněk says

        Thanks for the advice, I finally used the Options -Indexes method now and AIO SEO already reports the problem as solved. Thanks again.

  5. Ka Khaliq says

    After editing the htaccess file as per the provided guidelines, I do see 403 Forbidden message for /wp-includes/. But I’m unable to see edit any post. Upon editing a post, I see the same 403 Forbidden message. How to solve this?

  6. Pradip Singh says

    I am in love with this website. Every day I am surprised when I read a new article from this website. Thankfully I read this article today and immediately I implemented the advice.

  7. Jonthan says

    So is it ok to have this code on .htaccess file even when an index.php file is present in the root folder.

    Kindly respond.

  8. Teresa Cuervo says

    Do you need Filezila to do this or can you go to the FTP via Cpanel and do this?
    Thank you

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You can use either, not all hosts have a file manager is why we show Filezilla :)


  9. michael says

    does this action affect pages indexing on search engines?
    and does it make some problems for indexed pages of my WordPress website?

  10. Shams says

    Amazing post,

    Just have simple question, I added this code and it’s working, the question is Google indexes those page e.g sitecom/wp-contents/2019/2, will Google remove those pages automatically now as these are 404. Or I should remove it in Search Console?


  11. Bill says


    I recently applied this rule
    and at the same day the front page of my blog
    got vanished from google index.

    Do you see any connection?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Adding this to your htaccess should not affect your indexing, there are multiple reasons and you would want to check your Google Search Console for what it says about your home page.


  12. Ionel G says

    Thanks for all the tips that you provide!
    I am still wondering how can you hide the wp-content & wp-include folder from sources? I hate it when someone goes right click and source it can see all of my plugins :). Do you have any script for this?
    Thank you in advance!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      We do not have a recommended method for that at the moment, the most common reason you can’t see those folders in dev tools is a site’s cache.


  13. Mayur says

    Could you please tell me How can i disable WordPress in sub folder like my WordPress install on [] and i want to disable wordpress in []

  14. Deatram says

    I disabled directory browsing, but still someone can see my directory when they use developer tools in chrome browser. How do I disable in that as well?

  15. Faeze says

    I added the line that you said in .htaccess but it showes my directories yet .
    What should I do now??

  16. Nathan says

    When I click “Save Changes” on the Permalink Settings page the .htaccess file is updated, erasing the “Options -Indexes” code that I inputted. The code works fine, but I am concerned I will unknowingly delete it while performing some other task. Are there any other dashboard settings changes that I should know about that may affect the .htaccess file and erase the code? Thanks

  17. Baggio says

    Huge fan of wpbeginner, Optin Monster – I got so many useful tips and tricks on WP – and I have to say, the site design is just brilliant. And of course, the content here is epicly useful.

    Thanks guys!

  18. daniel says

    Hey! It doesnt seem to work. if i pull an image to another page its opened with a link of:…
    Any idea? thanks!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hey Daniel,

      Your images and files inside directories can still be directly accessed. However, server will not let someone directly browse a directory and see its contents.


      • Axel Jebens says

        I would appreciate if you could iterate on this. I had a hard time when trying to get a solution for this issue. There are some ideas based on a htaccess redirecting to a php file that first checks if the user is logged on. Is there any plugin which provides such a function?

  19. Kim says

    Sorry to late ask. I want to know, are these techniques safe to use regarding SEO score ? Hope you answer !

  20. Charles says

    I have been writing this same code for weeks now but my directory remains visible to users. Pls what am doing wrong? Or could it be that my site is still loading from cached contents? Everybody says it is working but my own experience is different. Any help will be appreciated! Thanks in anticipation of your reply.

  21. Mike says

    Is there a way to allow viewing a directory but just hide the Parent Directory link for a specific page? This would be a network share folder that multiple people would access, and have sub folders which would still require a parent directory listing. I just don’t want anyone going above the shared folder.

  22. Christian Nastari says

    This didn’t work for me. I tried before and after #END WordPress and didn’t work. I also tried “Options All -Indexes”, but didn’t work either

  23. nitai says

    Really great. today I just faced and thinking how can I disallow like joomla and I found the exact solution.

  24. Anita in SD says

    Thanks so much, was dismayed to see images from my site going to a parent directory :0. This was very helpful and worked well.
    Blessings – A

  25. Heather Jacobsen says

    Thanks for this tutorial. It worked great for hiding my uploads from anyone just wanting to browse that directory. One question, though. Does this by chance turn off the ability of search engines to browse my website. Sorry if it seems like a dumb question. I am a newbie, after all. :)

  26. Wasil Burki says

    I added the Options -Indexes code to the htaccess file, however now I am not able to access the site I get a 503 error. Am I doing something wrong? Need help bad!! Thanks

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