curl supports HTTP/2 for both HTTP:// and HTTPS:// URLs assuming that curl was built with the proper prerequisites. It will even default to using HTTP/2 when given a HTTPS URL since doing so implies no penalty and when curl is used with sites that don't support HTTP/2 the request will instead negotiate HTTP/1.1.

With HTTP:// URLs however, the upgrade to HTTP/2 is done with an Upgrade: header that may cause an extra round-trip and perhaps even more troublesome, a sizable share of old servers will return a 400 response when seeing such a header.

It should also be noted that some (most?) servers that support HTTP/2 for HTTP:// (which in itself isn't all servers) will not acknowledge the Upgrade: header on POST, for example.

To ask a server to use HTTP/2, just:

curl --http2

If your curl doesn't support HTTP/2, that command line will return an error saying so. Running curl -V will show if your version of curl supports it.

If you by some chance already know that your server speaks HTTP/2 (for example, within your own controlled environment where you know exactly what runs in your machines) you can shortcut the HTTP/2 "negotiation" with --http2-prior-knowledge.


One of the primary features in the HTTP/2 protocol is the ability to multiplex several logical stream over the same physical connection. When using the curl command-line tool, you cannot take advantage of that cool feature since curl is doing all its network requests in a strictly serial manner, one after the next, with the second only ever starting once the previous one has ended.

Hopefully, a future curl version will be enhanced to allow the use of this feature.

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