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Recently someone in the JoeJoomla forums who is using MAMP to develop Joomla! websites wanted to know how to rename the 'htaccess.txt' file to '.htaccess' which makes the file invisible on the Mac. The 'Finder' application in Mac Leopard OS will not let you rename the htaccess.txt file with a dot in front of it. If you try you will get a dialog box that comes up and tells you:

You cannot use a name that begins with a dot ".",
because these names are reserved for the system.
Please choose another name.

So what do you do when you want to change the 'htaccess.txt' file to '.htaccess'? Why would you want to do this anyway?

In order to have search engine friendly URLs in Joomla! you need to change the SEO Settings in the 'Global Configuration' of the 'Control Panel' which can be found under the 'Site' menu in the back end administration (Site>Global Configuration). The SEO settings in 'Global Configuration' are changed by clicking No/Yes radio buttons. One of the three SEO settings is 'Use Apache mod_rewrite'. This has a warning symbol beside it. If you want to switch this to 'Yes' the warning tells you that you must first rename the 'htaccess.txt' file in the Joomla! root directory to '.htaccess'. By doing this on the Mac you will be making the file invisible. The 'Finder' application on the Mac will not let you put the dot in front of the file name but there are several programs that will do this for you.

I use an application called 'Transmit' from for an ftp client. Transmit will let you rename a file with a dot in front of it. Transmit is not a free program. Unless you already have it there is no need to buy it just to rename files. Another program which is free that I use a lot is 'TextWrangler' from This is a text editor that has many useful functions suitable for web development. Among other things it will allow you to rename a file with a dot in front. The Mac's free TextEdit program will also let you do this. With either of these applications when you try to rename the file with a dot in front you will get the following warning:

You cannot use a name that begins with a dot ".",
because these names are reserved for the system.
If you decide to go ahead and use a name which begins with a dot the file will be hidden.

Right below the message you will be presented with with two buttons, the one you want is 'Use "." Once you rename that file it becomes invisible just like it warned you. You will not be able to see it in the folder anymore. It really doesn't matter that you can't see it because once you have renamed it and made it invisible you are then able to change the SEO settings in Joomla. 'Transmit', however, will allow you to view invisible files. So will other Mac programs like 'Path Finder' which is also a commercial program.

Another free solution on your Mac would be to install the 'eXtplorer' GPLv2.0 component in Joomla! which can be found at This component is rated highly in the Joomla! Extensions Directory. 'eXtplorer' is a web-based file manager that will allow you to go through the back end administration component in Joomla! and rename the 'htaccess.txt' file to '.htacess'. It also lets you see invisible files in the Joomla! directories. I use 'eXtplorer' on the live servers of some of my Joomla! websites. I have not had much success with the more recent versions of the 'eXtplorer' component on my Mac inside MAMP. It doesn't install properly probably due to a timeout during the install process. My Mac PowerBook may not be fast enough to get through the install process in time since it is a large install. Since I have other ways to rename files with the dot in front of the filename I have never bothered to try and solve the 'eXtplorer' issue on my Mac. You might have better luck with it than I do.

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