Get your Local Web Development Environment Up & Running on macOS Big Sur 11 and Catalina 10.15

With Apples' new macOS Big Sur 11 available for download, here is how to get the AMP stack up and running on the new macOS. This tutorial will go through the process of getting Apache, MySQL, PHP (or otherwise known as the 'AMP' stack) and phpMyAdmin running on the new mac OS Big Sur.

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This guide will also work on macOS Catalina and Mojave.

  1. To download the MySQL Community Server, go to MySQL Community Downloads page and click Download button for macOS 10.15 (x86, 64bit), DMG Archive. This will download the MySQL Community Server version 8.0.23 (you should have a file mysql-8.0.23-macos10.15-x8664.dmg file in your Download folder).as of the time when the blog is posted, the latest MySQL Community Server.
  2. This is the MySQL macOS extract from the MySQL 5.7 Reference Manual. For legal information, see the Legal Notices. For help with using MySQL, please visit the MySQL Forums, where you can discuss your issues with other MySQL users. Document generated on: 2021-10-21 (revision: 71161).

This tutorial sets up the AMP stack in more of a traditional way using the loaded Apache and PHP and downloading MySQL and phpMyAdmin.

Setting Stuff Up

Mac OS X 10.12 (x86, 64-bit), DMG Archive. And download, getting: mysql-5.7.17-osx10.12-x8664.dmg. Open the '.dmg ' file to reveal the installation file: mysql-5.7.17-osx10.12-x8664.pkg. If you have an older version of MySQL running, stop it first. Double-click to start the installation. Install Mysql Macos. Below are the quick 5 steps to accomplish the task. Step 1: Check Mac Version. Very first step is to verify the Mac OS X’s current version to decide MySQL Installation file to be downloaded. For example for Mac version: 10.4 you should download “Mac OS X 10.4 (x86, 32-bit), Compressed TAR Archive (mysql-5.1.51-osx10.4.


Web serving is built into Big Sur with Apache app, it is installed ready to be fired up.

This needs to be done in the Terminal which is found in the OS filing system at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal

For those not familiar with the Terminal, it really isn't as intimidating as you may think, once launched you are faced with a command prompt waiting for your commands - just type/paste in a command and hit enter, some commands give you no response - it just means the command is done, other commands give you feedback.

Using the prefix of sudo is required for commands that have their applications protected in specific folders - when using sudo you will need to confirm with your admin password or iCloud password if set up that way.... let's get to it ...

to start Apache web sharing

to stop it

to restart it

To find the Apache version

The Apache version that comes in macOS Big Sur is Apache/2.4.46

After starting Apache - test to see if the webserver is working in the browser - http://localhost - you should see the 'It Works!' text.

If you don't get the localhost test, you can try troubleshooting Apache to see if there is anything wrong in its config file by running

This will give you an indication of what might be wrong.

Document Root

Document root is the location where the files are shared from the file system and is similar to the traditional names of 'public_html' and 'htdocs', macOS has historically had 2 web roots one at a system level and one at a user level - you can set both up or just run with one, the user level one allows multiple accounts to have their own web root whilst the system one is global for all users. It seems there is less effort from Apple in continuing with the user level one but it still can be set up with a couple of extra tweaks in configuration files. It is easier to use the user level one as you don't have to keep on authenticating as an admin user.

System Level Web Root

- the default system document root is still found at -


The files are shared in the filing system at -

User Level Root

The other web root directory which is missing by default is the '~/Sites' folder in the User account. This takes a bit longer to set up but some users are very accustomed to using it.

You need to make a 'Sites' folder at the root level of your account and then it will work. Once you make the Sites folder you will notice that it has a unique icon which is a throwback from a few versions older. Make that folder before you set up the user configuration file described next.

You have to make a few additional tweaks to get the ~/Sites folder back up and running.

Add a “username.conf” filed under:

If you don’t already have one (very likely), then create one named by the short username of the account with the suffix .conf, its location and permissions/ownership is best tackled by using the Terminal, the text editor 'nano' would be the best tool to deal with this.

If you would rather edit config files in a text editor as an app I would suggest text editor like the free BBEdit which allows you to open hidden system files.

Launch Terminal, (Applications/Utilities), and follow the commands below, first one gets you to the right spot, 2nd one opens the text editor on the command line (swap 'username' with your account's shortname, if you don't know your account shortname type 'whoami' the Terminal prompt):

Then add the content below swapping in your 'username' in the code below, there is a slightly different user directive for Big Sur and Catalina, make sure 'Require host localhost' is used:

Permissions on the file should be:

If not, you need to change it...

Open the main httpd.conf and allow some modules:

And make sure these modules are uncommented (the first 2 should already be on a clean install):

While you have this file open also to get php running, uncomment the below ... (Mentioned also in the PHP part of the article).

And also uncomment this configuration file also in httpd.conf - which allows user home directories.

Save all your changes (Control + O in nano)

Then open another Apache config file and uncomment another file:

And uncomment:

Save all your changes (Control + O in nano)

Restart Apache for the new file to be read:

Then this user level document root will be viewable at:


You should only see a directory tree like structure if the folder is empty.

Override .htaccess and allow URL Rewrites

If you are going to use the web serving document root at /Library/WebServer/Documents it is a good idea to allow any .htaccess files used to override the default settings - this can be accomplished by editing the httpd.conf file at line 217 and setting the AllowOverride to All and then restart Apache. This is already taken care of at the Sites level webroot by following the previous step.

Also while here allow URL rewrites so your permalinks look clean, not ugly.

Uncomment in httpd.conf - should be uncommented on a clean install.


PHP 7.3.24 is loaded in this version of macOS Big Sur and needs to be turned on by uncommenting a line in the httpd.conf file.

Use 'control' + 'w' to search within nano and search for 'php' this will land you on the right line then uncomment the line (remove the #):

Write out and Save using the nano shortcut keys at the bottom 'control o' and 'control x'

Reload Apache to kick in

To see and test PHP, create a file name it 'phpinfo.php' and file it in your document root with the contents below, then view it in a browser.

Here you will see that Apple are not intending on bundling PHP in the macOS in the future, perhaps with the next incarnation of the OS, but for now it's working albeit not version 7.4. However you can use a Homebrew PHP solution that allows for any PHP version to be used.



MySQL doesn't come pre-loaded with macOS Big Sur and needs to be dowloaded from the MySQL site.

The latest version of MySQL 8.0.23 does work with the latest release of macOS.

Use the macOS 10.15 (x86, 64-bit), DMG Archive version (works on macOS Big Sur).

If you are upgrading from a previous macOS and have an older MySQL version you do not have to update it.

Also if you have a clean install and want the earlier MySQL version 5.7, you can still get this from the MySQL site - from the 'Looking for previous GA versions' link. (MySQL 8 is relatively new and not in many production set ups)

One thing with MySQL upgrades, always take a data dump of your database in case things go south and before you upgrade to macOS Catalina make sure your MySQL Server is not running.

When downloading you don’t have to sign up, look for » No thanks, just start mydownload - go straight to the download.

Once downloaded open the .dmg and run the installer.

During the MySQL process you are prompted to choose between strong and legacy password encryptions, since version 8 is entirely new, some software like phpMyAdmin can't connect with the newer encryptions - so if you are going to use a GUI wrapper like phpMyadmin I suggest you stick to legacy.

Then add a password for the MySQL root user.

Add Mysql to your path

After installation, in order to use MySQL commands without typing the full path to the commands you need to add the mysql directory to your shell path, (optional step) this is done in your Zsh shell profile “.zshrc” file in your home directory (previous shells were bash), if you don’t have that file just create it using vi or nano:

The first command brings you to your home directory and opens the .zsh file or creates a new one if it doesn’t exist, then add in the line above which adds the MySQL binary path to commands that you can run. Exit the file with type “control + x” and when prompted to save the change by typing “y”. The last thing to do here is to reload the shell for the above to work straight away.

Change the MySQL root password

(This section is left in for reference - in previous macOS MySQL packages the password set during the installation process would fail - hence the info below. This newer version, however, seems to work).

Note that this is not the same as the root or admin password of macOS - this is a unique password for the MySQL root user.

Stop MySQL

Start it in safe mode:

This will be an ongoing command until the process is finished so open another shell/terminal window, and log in without a password as root:

Change the lowercase 'MyNewPass' to what you want - and keep the single quotes.

Start MySQL

Starting MySQL

You can then start the MySQL server from the System Preferences adds to the last row or via the command line.

The new MySQL system preference also has the uninstall feature - useful if you've installed it with a security encryption that's not working for you and want to try the other one. You can also see the paths to the config and data sources of MySQL in the configuration tab.

Or to Command line start MySQL.

To find the MySQL version from the terminal, type at the prompt:

This also puts you into a shell interactive dialogue with MySQL, type q to exit.

Fix the 2002 MySQL Socket error

Fix the looming 2002 socket error - which is linking where MySQL places the socket and where macOS thinks it should be, MySQL puts it in /tmp and macOS looks for it in /var/mysql the socket is a type of file that allows MySQL client/server communication.


First fix the 2002 socket error if you haven't done so from the MySQL section-

Download phpMyAdmin, the zip English package will suit a lot of users, then unzip it and move the folder with its contents into the document root level renaming folder to 'phpmyadmin'.

Make the config folder

Change the permissions

Run the set up in the browser

http://localhost/~username/phpmyadmin/setup/ or http://localhost/phpmyadmin/setup/

You need to create a new localhost mysql server connection, click new server.

Switch to the Authentication tab and set the local MySQL root user and the password.
Add in the username “root” (maybe already populated, add in the password that you set up earlier for the MySQL root user set up, click on save and you are returned to the previous screen.
(This is not the macOS Admin or root password - it is the MySQL root user)

Now going to http://localhost/~username/phpmyadmin/ will now allow you to interact with your MySQL databases.


To run a website with no permission issues it is best to set the web root and its contents to be writeable by all since it's a local development it shouldn't be a security issue.

Let's say that you have a site in the User Sites folder at the following location ~/Sites/testsite you would set it to be writeable like so:

If you are concerned about security then instead of making it world writeable you can set the owner to be Apache _www but when working on files you would have to authenticate more as admin you are 'not' the owner, you would do this like so:

This will set the contents recursively to be owned by the Apache user.

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If you had the website stored at the System level Document root at say /Library/WebServer/Documents/testsite then it would have to be the latter:

Another more straightforward way to do this if you have a one user workstation is to change the Apache web user from _www to your account.

That's it! You now have the native AMP stack running on top of macOS Big Sur or Catalina.

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To set up vritual hosts aka vhosts on Apache check the guide here.

If you are a WordPress user and want a smooth lean local development environment - also worth checking out is Laravel Valet which runs on top of macOS - check out my Valet WordPress Guide on macOS.

Usually any application connecting to MySQL in macOS (macport) is via localhost or, and there might be error if the application is connect via

This usually happened if MySQL service is installed via Macports, it’s due to Macports make it easier to run multiple MySQL version i.e MySQL 5.6, MySQL 5.7 or MariaDB, hence it only allow to connect via socket.

These are the errors you will see if you are connecting via localhost or

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ERROR 2003 (HY000): Can’t connect to MySQL server on ‘’ (61)

Here is how to enable and allow MySQL connection via in macOS.

  1. Edit the file /opt/local/etc/mysql56/macports-default.cnf (or the version you are using)
  2. Uncomment the item skip-networking
  3. Restart MySQL via command
    1. sudo launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.mysql56-server.plist
    2. sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.mysql56-server.plist

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Try connecting MySQL Server again with command

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mysql -h -u root -p

You should be able to connect via!