.htaccess Description

The .htaccess file provides many things you can configure for your site. Many of these can be accomplished using the tools in your control panel.

An .htaccess file is simply a text file containing Apache directives. Those directives apply to the documents in the directory where the .htaccess file is located, and to all subdirectories under it as well. Other .htaccess files in subdirectories may change or nullify the effects of those in parent directories. As text files, you can use whatever text editor you like to create or make changes to .htaccess files. These files are called ‘.htaccess files’ because that’s what they’re typically named. This naming scheme has its roots in the NCSA Web server and the Unix file system; files whose names begin with a dot are often considered to be ‘hidden’ and aren’t displayed in a normal directory listing. The NCSA developers chose the name ‘.htaccess’ so that a control file in a directory would have a fairly reasonable name (‘ht’ for ‘hypertext’) and not clutter up directory listings. Plus, there’s a long history of Unix utilities storing their preferences information in such ‘hidden’ files.
More documentation is available at:
http://www.apache.org