In the root of a Joomla installation there is a file named htaccess.txt
This file has no effect until renamed to .htaccess

If a .htaccess file already exists, copy it's contents and paste into htaccess.txt before renaming...or vice versa...the main thing is to not lose the contents of the original .htaccess file. cPanel uses .htaccess to store redirects and other settings. You may find your .htaccess file is blank, and that's fine, it just means cPanel has not made any entries in it yet. The Joomla .htaccess file is purposely named htaccess.txt so as not to overwrite an exisiting .htaccess file when installing Joomla.

* I do the above for you when installing new accounts. Use the settings shown below in the SEF section of the Global Configuration to enable SEF.

location: Site >> Global Configuration

Add suffix option can be set to No or Yes.

SEF will only work when using the domain name.
IP links will not work with SEF enabled.
eg. Links like http://12.34.567.890/~yourusername/ will not work properly with SEF enabled.

About Files beginning with a period (.)
Files beginning with a period (.) are invisible files. Rename them before downloading to your desktop or they may 'disappear'. Some FTP programs require a setting to be enabled to view invisible files.
Some programs like Dreamweaver will allow invisible files to be viewed without renaming.

My Thoughts on SEF
Turn it on after you have built the site. Well... a Joomla site is often never really finished, but here's what I'm getting at;

Non-SEF urls can be converted to SEF urls, but not vice versa. If you copy SEF urls to use in content items, and then for some reason decide to turn SEF off, those links will no longer work. It's best to be using non-SEF links in content because they will work with SEF on and off. For many users this won't be an issue, but I wanted to point it out.

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