Curl Header Example: Mastering the Use of Headers with Curl Commands

Table of contents
  1. Setting Headers with Curl
  2. Basic Authorization Header
  3. Custom Headers
  4. Modifying User-Agent Header
  5. Passing Multiple Headers
  6. Overriding Headers
  7. Handling Cookies with Headers
  8. HTTP Method Override
  9. Commonly Asked Questions
  10. Reflection

When it comes to making HTTP requests, especially with the command-line tool curl, understanding how to use headers is crucial. Headers play a pivotal role in providing additional information to the server or the client, and they can significantly influence the behavior of the request and the response. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive deep into the world of curl header examples, covering various use cases and scenarios where headers are essential.

Whether you're a developer, a sysadmin, or just someone looking to expand their knowledge of curl commands, this article will equip you with the expertise needed to harness the power of headers effectively.

Setting Headers with Curl

Before delving into specific examples, let's first understand how headers are set using curl commands. When making HTTP requests with curl, you can include headers using the -H or --header option, followed by the header you want to set. The general syntax is:

curl -H "HeaderName: HeaderValue" URL

Now, let's explore practical examples of using headers with curl in different scenarios.

Basic Authorization Header

One of the most common use cases for headers is handling authentication. For instance, when dealing with APIs that require basic authentication, you can include the Authorization header in your curl request. Here's an example:

curl -H "Authorization: Basic base64encodedCredentials"

Replace base64encodedCredentials with your actual base64-encoded username and password credentials. This header informs the server that the request is authorized, allowing access to protected resources.

Custom Headers

Sometimes, you may need to send custom headers to the server to provide specific information or to fulfill the requirements of an API. Let's consider an example where a custom header is included in a curl request:

curl -H "X-Custom-Header: CustomValue"

In this case, the custom header X-Custom-Header with the value CustomValue is added to the HTTP request, catering to the server's specific expectations.

Modifying User-Agent Header

The User-Agent header is utilized to specify the client making the HTTP request. At times, you might want to alter or fake the User-Agent for various reasons. Here's how you can achieve this using curl:

curl -H "User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.110 Safari/537.3"

By setting a custom User-Agent header, you can mimic different browsers or clients, which can be useful for testing or accessing resources that impose user-agent restrictions.

Passing Multiple Headers

There will be instances where you need to include multiple headers in a single curl request. You can achieve this by providing multiple -H options. Here's an example illustrating the inclusion of multiple headers:

curl -H "Accept: application/json" -H "Content-Type: application/json"

In the above command, both the Accept and Content-Type headers are included in the request, specifying the accepted response format and the content type of the request payload, respectively.

Overriding Headers

It's important to note that when sending requests with curl, some headers may be automatically set by the tool or the environment. In such cases, you may need to override or modify these headers. Let's take a look at an example where the Host header is overridden:

curl -H "Host:"

By explicitly specifying the Host header, you can ensure that the request is routed to the desired server, overriding any default Host header that curl may have set.

Handling Cookies with Headers

When dealing with websites or APIs that utilize cookies for session management, you can use headers to send and manage cookies with curl. Consider the following example:

curl -H "Cookie: sessionToken=abc123; userId=12345"

By including the Cookie header in the request, you can pass the necessary cookies required for authentication or session persistence.

HTTP Method Override

In scenarios where the server restricts certain HTTP methods, or you need to override the method (e.g., using a POST request instead of GET), you can utilize the X-HTTP-Method-Override header. Here's an example:

curl -X POST -H "X-HTTP-Method-Override: PUT"

By including the X-HTTP-Method-Override header with the desired method, you can work around restrictions and ensure that the server processes the request according to your specifications.

Commonly Asked Questions

What are HTTP headers in curl?

HTTP headers in curl are additional pieces of information sent as part of an HTTP request. They allow the client to pass specific data to the server, influencing the request or the subsequent response. Headers are vital for tasks like authentication, content negotiation, and session management.

How do I view headers in a curl request?

You can view the headers of a curl request by using the -v or --verbose option. When this option is included in your curl command, the tool displays the request headers, the response headers, and other relevant details for debugging purposes.

Can I send multiple headers in a curl request?

Yes, you can send multiple headers in a single curl request by including multiple -H options, with each option specifying a different header. This allows you to provide diverse information and fulfill the requirements of the server or the API being accessed.


Mastering the use of headers with curl commands is a valuable skill for anyone working with HTTP requests. Whether it's for API integration, web scraping, or debugging network issues, understanding how to manipulate headers can make a significant impact on the outcome of your requests. By exploring the diverse examples and use cases presented in this guide, you've gained a comprehensive understanding of how headers can be leveraged to tailor and enhance curl requests to meet specific requirements.

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