How to Set Up a Web Server on Mac OSX

web serverThis is a simple guide for setting up a local apache web server on your Mac OSX machine. You can use this to develop and test your sites locally before uploading to your web host and also for learning web programming.

Step 1: Create the Sites folder in your home directory

Lion and later versions no longer create personal web sites by default. If you already had a Sites folder in Snow Leopard, it should still be there. To create one manually, enter the following command after launching the Terminal app:

$ mkdir ~/Sites

Step 2: Create a basic html page for testing your local web server

$ echo "<html><body><h1>My site works</h1></body></html>" > ~/Sites/index.html.en

Step 3: Enable PHP

PHP is not enabled by default in recent versions of OS X. To enable it, type the following at the terminal:

$ sudo vi /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

Uncomment the following line:

#LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/

i.e. it should read as

LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/

(if you aren’t familiar with vi, just press ‘x’ over the ‘#’ character to delete it. Then type ‘:wq’ to save and quit.)

You can find this line on the following line numbers depending on your OS.

  • 10.7 Lion – line 111
  • 10.8 Mountain Lion – line 117
  • 10.9 Mavericks – line 118
  • 10.10 Yosemite – line 169
  • 10.11 El Capitan – line 169

For Yosemite and beyond only, uncomment the following line at line 166:

#LoadModule userdir_module libexec/apache2/


LoadModule userdir_module libexec/apache2/

and do the same at line 493:

#Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-userdir.conf


Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-userdir.conf

Save and exit (type ESC and :wq and return)

And again, for Yosemite and beyond only, open the file above with:

$ sudo vi /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-userdir.conf

and uncomment the following line at line 16:

#Include /private/etc/apache2/users/*.conf


Include /private/etc/apache2/users/*.conf

Save and exit (type ESC and :wq and return)

Step 4: Ensure your user config file exists

Note: For this step and beyond, replace <your short user name> with your short user name. This can be found by typing whoami at the terminal.

Your user config file should exit at the path /etc/apache2/users/.conf.

If that file doesn’t exist, you will need to create it by typing the following at the terminal:

$ sudo vi /etc/apache2/users/.conf

For all OSX versions prior to Yosemite, use the following as the content:

<Directory "/Users/<your short user name>/Sites/">
Options Indexes MultiViews
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
Allow from localhost

For Yosemite and beyond, use this content:

<Directory "/Users/<your short user name>/Sites/">
AddLanguage en .en
LanguagePriority en fr de
ForceLanguagePriority Fallback
Options Indexes MultiViews
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
Allow from localhost
Require all granted

Save and exit (type ESC and :wq and return)

Step 5: Turn on Apache web server

In Lion, do the following:

To turn on Apache, go to System Preferences > Sharing and enable Web Sharing.

In more recent versions of OS X, the Web Sharing checkbox in System Preferences > Sharing is gone. Instead, type the following in terminal:

$ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist

Step 6: Test your Web Server

In Safari, navigate to your web site with the following address:

It should say:

It works!

Now try your user home directory:<your short user name>

It should show the content of the html file we just created:

My site works

Now test PHP. Create a PHP info file by typing the following in terminal:

$ echo "<?php echo phpinfo(); ?>" > ~/Sites/info.php

$ chmod +x info.php

Now test it by entering the following into Safari’s address bar:<your short user name>/info.php

You should see your PHP configuration information.

If you want to make further changes to your Apache system or user config files, you will need to restart the Apache server with:

$ sudo apachectl graceful
Note: These instructions apply to the client versions of OS X, not Server.
Recommended readingBeginner’s guide to web hosting.
Credit for the original article on how to set up web server on  Mac OSX:
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