Install Apache, MySQL, PHP on macOS 11 Big Sur and earlier macOS

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

Macos Install Big Sur

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.

This guide will also work on macOS Catalina and Mojave.

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


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

sudo apachectl start

to stop it

sudo apachectl stop

to restart it

sudo apachectl restart

To find the Apache version

httpd -v

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

Bigsur Macos It Works Webroot


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

apachectl configtest

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.

Big sur Sites User Folder


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.

Bbedit Macos Bigsur Editing


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):

cd /etc/apache2/users
sudo nano username.conf

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:

<Directory "/Users/username/Sites/">
AllowOverride All
Options Indexes MultiViews FollowSymLinks
Require host localhost

Permissions on the file should be:

-rw-r--r--   1 root  wheel  298 Jun 28 16:47 username.conf

If not, you need to change it...

sudo chmod 644 username.conf

Open the main httpd.conf and allow some modules:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

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

LoadModule authz_core_module libexec/apache2/
LoadModule authz_host_module libexec/apache2/
LoadModule userdir_module libexec/apache2/
LoadModule include_module libexec/apache2/
LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache2/


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

LoadModule php7_module libexec/apache2/

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

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

Save all your changes (Control + O in nano)

Then open another Apache config file and uncomment another file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-userdir.conf

And uncomment:

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

Save all your changes (Control + O in nano)


Restart Apache for the new file to be read:

sudo apachectl restart

Then this user level document root will be viewable at:


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

Macos User Web Root


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.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

Osx Htaccess Override


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

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

LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache2/



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.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

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 #):

LoadModule php7_module libexec/apache2/

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

Reload Apache to kick in

sudo apachectl restart

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.

 <?php phpinfo(); ?>


Macos Php Legacy

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.

admin@192-168-1-105 Documents % php -v
WARNING: PHP is not recommended
PHP is included in macOS for compatibility with legacy software.
Future versions of macOS will not include PHP.
PHP 7.3.24-(to be removed in future macOS) (cli) (built: Dec 21 2020 21:33:25) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) 1997-2018 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v3.3.24, Copyright (c) 1998-2018 Zend Technologies


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).

Macos Mysql Download


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)

Mysql Product Archives

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.

Macos Bigsur Mysql Legacy Password



Then add a password for the MySQL root user.

Macos Bigsur Mysql Root Password


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:

cd ; nano .zshrc
export PATH="/usr/local/mysql/bin:$PATH"

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.

source ~/.zshrc

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

sudo /usr/local/mysql/support-files/mysql.server stop

Start it in safe mode:

sudo mysqld_safe --skip-grant-tables

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:

mysql -u root
ALTER USER 'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'MyNewPass';

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


Start MySQL

sudo /usr/local/mysql/support-files/mysql.server start

Starting MySQL

Macos Mysql Start Stop


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


Macos Mysql Sys Pref


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.

sudo /usr/local/mysql/support-files/mysql.server start

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

/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql -v -uroot -p

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.

sudo mkdir /var/mysql
sudo ln -s /tmp/mysql.sock /var/mysql/mysql.sock


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

sudo mkdir /var/mysql
sudo ln -s /tmp/mysql.sock /var/mysql/mysql.sock


Macos Phpmyadmin Download

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

mkdir ~/Sites/phpmyadmin/config

Change the permissions

chmod o+w ~/Sites/phpmyadmin/config

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.

Macos Phpmyadmin



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:

sudo chmod -R a+w ~/Sites/testsite

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:

sudo chown -R _www ~/Sites/testsite

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

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:

sudo chown -R _www /Library/WebServer/Documents/testsite

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.

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.