Autoindex with try_files in nginx

On by Mitesh Shah

It’s a bit nitpicky but after setting up a couple of websites, I always run across this issue and have to randomly guess and try until I get it right. So let’s change that and understand the proper way to implement nginx with both try_files directive and automatic directory index using autoindex on with a working 404 page on incorrect urls.

Let’s say we have a particular location block in which we want these features to co-exist. What we need is something like this:

  1. Match uri exactly
    • Show index.html if it is present
    • Show {uri}.html if it is present
    • Show an automated directory if folder exists
    • Otherwise show a 404 error

2nd point is implemented using an inbuilt nginx directive:

index index.html

Rest of the scenarios are implemented using:

try_files $uri $uri.html $uri/ =404;
autoindex on;

These are checked in order until one of the condition satisfies.

Entire config:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_tokens off;
    root /var/www/;
    index index.html;

    location / {
        autoindex on;
        try_files $uri $uri.html $uri/ =404;

    error_page 404 /404.html;