Request Matchers

Request matchers can be used to filter (or classify) requests by specific criteria.


In the Caddyfile, a matcher token immediately following the directive can limit that directive's scope. The matcher token can be one of these forms:

  1. * to match all requests (wildcard; default).
  2. /path start with a forward slash to match a request path.
  3. @name to specify a named matcher.

Matcher tokens are usually optional. If a matcher token is omitted, it is the same as a wildcard matcher (*).


This directive applies to all HTTP requests:

reverse_proxy localhost:9000

And this is the same:

reverse_proxy * localhost:9000

But this directive applies only to requests having a path starting with /api/:

reverse_proxy /api/* localhost:9000

To match on anything other than a path, define a named matcher and refer to it using @name:

@postfoo {
	method POST
	path /foo/*
reverse_proxy @postfoo localhost:9000

Wildcard matchers

The wildcard (or "catch-all") matcher * matches all requests, and is only needed if a matcher token is required. For example, if the first argument you want to give a directive also happens to be a path, it would look exactly like a path matcher! So you can use a wildcard matcher to disambiguate, for example:

root * /home/www/mysite

Otherwise, this matcher is not often used. It is convenient to omit it when possible; just a matter of preference.

Path matchers

Because matching by path is so common, a single path matcher can be inlined, like so:

redir /old.html /new.html

Path matcher tokens must start with a forward slash /.

Path matching is an exact match by default; you must append a * for a fast prefix match. Note that /foo* will match /foo and /foo/ as well as /foobar; you might actually want /foo/* instead.

Named matchers

All matchers that are not path or wildcard matchers must be named matchers. This is a matcher that is defined outside of any particular directive, and can be reused.

Defining a matcher with a unique name gives you more flexibility, allowing you to combine any available matchers into a set:

@name {

or, if there is only one matcher in the set:

@name ...

Then you can use the matcher like so: @name

For example:

@websockets {
	header Connection *Upgrade*
	header Upgrade    websocket
reverse_proxy @websockets localhost:6001

This proxies only the requests that have a header field named "Connection" containing the word "Upgrade", and another field named "Upgrade" with a value of "websocket".

If the matcher set consists of only one matcher, a one-liner syntax also works:

@post method POST
reverse_proxy @post localhost:6001

Like directives, named matcher definitions must go inside the site blocks that use them.

A named matcher definition constitutes a matcher set. Matchers in a set are AND'ed together; i.e. all must match. For example, if you have both a header and path matcher in the set, both must match.

For most matchers that accept multiple values, those values are OR'ed; i.e. one must match in order for the matcher to match.

Standard matchers

Full matcher documentation can be found in each respective matcher module's docs.


⚠️ This module is still experimental and, as such, may experience breaking changes.

expression <cel...>

By any CEL (Common Expression Language) expression that returns true or false.

As a special case, Caddy placeholders (or Caddyfile shorthands) may be used in these CEL expressions, as they are preprocessed and converted to regular CEL function calls before being interpreted by the CEL environment.


Match requests whose methods start with P, e.g. PUT or POST.

expression {method}.startsWith("P")

Match requests where handler returned error status code 404, would be used in conjunction with the handle_errors directive.

expression {http.error.status_code} == 404


file {
	root       <paths>
	try_files  <files...>
	try_policy first_exist|smallest_size|largest_size|most_recent_modified
	split_path <delims...>

By files.

  • root defines the directory in which to look for files. Default is the current working directory, or the root variable ({http.vars.root}) if set (can be set via the root directive).
  • try_files checks files in its list that match the try_policy.
  • try_policy specifies how to choose a file. Default is first_exist.
    • first_exist checks for file existence. The first file that exists is selected.
    • smallest_size chooses the file with the smallest size.
    • largest_size chooses the file with the largest size.
    • most_recent_modified chooses the file that was most recently modified.
  • split_path will cause the path to be split at the first delimiter in the list that is found in each filepath to try. For each split value, the left-hand side of the split including the delimiter itself will be the filepath that is tried. For example, /remote.php/dav/ using a delimiter of .php would try the file /remote.php. Each delimiter must appear at the end of a URI path component in order to be used as a split delimiter. This is a niche setting and is mostly used when serving PHP sites.

Because try_files with a policy of first_exist is so common, there is a one-line shortcut for that:

file <files...>

An empty file matcher (one with no files listed after it) will see if the requested file—verbatim from the URI, relative to the site root—exists.

Since rewriting based on the existence of a file on disk is so common, there is also a try_files directive which is a shortcut of the file matcher and a rewrite handler.

Upon matching, two new placeholders will be made available:

  • {http.matchers.file.relative} The root-relative path of the file. This is often useful when rewriting requests.
  • {http.matchers.file.absolute} The absolute path of the matched file.


Match requests where the path is a file that exists.


Match requests where the path followed by .html is a file that exists, or if not, where the path is a file that exists.

file {
	try_files {path}.html {path} 

header <field> <value>

By request header fields.

  • <field> is the name of the HTTP header field to check.
  • <value> is the value the field must have to match.
    • If prefixed with *, it performs a fast suffix match.
    • If suffixed with *, it performs a fast prefix match.
    • If enclosed by *, it performs a fast substring match.
    • Otherwise, it is a fast exact match.


Match requests with the Connection header containing Upgrade.

header Connection *Upgrade*


header_regexp [<name>] <field> <regexp>

Like header, but supports regular expressions. Capture groups can be accessed via placeholder like {} where name is the name of the regular expression (optional, but recommended) and capture_group is either the name or number of the capture group in the expression. Capture group 0 is the full regexp match, 1 is the first capture group, 2 is the second capture group, and so on.


Match requests where the Cookie header contains login_ followed by a hex string, with a capture group that can be accessed with {http.regexp.login.1}.

header_regexp login Cookie login_([a-f0-9]+)


host <hosts...>

Matches request by the Host header field of the request. It is not common to use this in the Caddyfile, since most site blocks already indicate hosts in the address of the site. This matcher is mostly used in site blocks that don't define specific hostnames.




method <verbs...>

By the method (verb) of the HTTP request. Verbs should be uppercase, like POST. Can match one or many methods.


Match requests with the GET method.

method GET

Match requests with the PUT or DELETE methods.



not <any other matcher>

or, to negate multiple matchers which get AND'ed, open a block:

not {
	<any other matchers...>

The results of the enclosed matchers will be negated.


Match requests with paths that do NOT begin with /css/ OR /js/.

not path /css/* /js/*

Match requests WITH NEITHER:

  • an /api/ path prefix, NOR
  • the POST request method

i.e. must have none of these to match:

not path /api/*
not method POST

Match requests WITHOUT BOTH:

  • an /api/ path prefix, AND
  • the POST request method

i.e. must have neither or either of these to match:

not {
	path /api/*
	method POST


path <paths...>

By request path, meaning the path component of the request's URI. Path matches are exact, but wildcards * may be used:

  • At the end, for a prefix match (/prefix/*)
  • At the beginning, for a suffix match (*.suffix)
  • On both sides, for a substring match (*/contains/*)
  • In the middle, for a globular match (/accounts/*/info)


path_regexp [<name>] <regexp>

Like path, but supports regular expressions. Capture groups can be accessed via placeholder like {} where name is the name of the regular expression (optional, but recommended) and capture_group is either the name or number of the capture group in the expression. Capture group 0 is the full regexp match, 1 is the first capture group, 2 is the second capture group, and so on.


Match requests where the path ends a 6 character hex string followed by .css or .js as the file extension, with capture groups that can be accessed with {http.regexp.static.1} and {http.regexp.static.2} for each part enclosed in ( ), respectively.

path_regexp static \.([a-f0-9]{6})\.(css|js)$


protocol http|https|grpc

By request protocol.


query <key>=<val>...

By query string parameters. Should be a sequence of key=value pairs. Keys are matched exactly, case-sensitively. Values are matched exactly, but also support * to match any value.


Match requests with a sort query parameter with the value asc

query sort=asc


remote_ip <ranges...>

By remote (client) IP address. Accepts exact IPs or CIDR ranges.


Match requests from private IPv4 addresses.