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How to Install & Run WordPress Locally on Windows or Mac (A Developer’s Guide)

Updated on October 9, 2023

10 Min Read
How to Install & Run WordPress Locally

Have you ever wanted to experiment with new features, plugins, and themes on your WordPress site but were afraid of breaking something or losing data? Installing WordPress locally on your computer can provide the perfect solution!

But that’s not all!

Working on a local WordPress installation can also be more efficient than working directly on a live site. And if you’re traveling or working in a location with limited internet access, running WordPress locally allows you to continue working on your projects even when you’re offline.

In this post, I will guide you through the process of setting up and running WordPress locally on your Windows or Mac computer. I will also discuss the system requirements and software installation to configure WordPress and access the dashboard.

Overview of WordPress Local Development

WordPress local development involves setting up and running a WordPress site on a local computer. This allows developers to work offline and provides a safe environment for testing new features, plugins, and themes.

To set up a local development environment, developers must install a local server environment, PHP, and MySQL. Once installed, WordPress can be downloaded and installed locally. It provides developers with a safe environment for testing and developing projects.

Reasons to Install WordPress Locally

There are several reasons why you might want to install WordPress locally on your computer:

1. Safe Environment

Running WordPress locally provides a safe environment for testing new features, plugins, and themes without affecting your live site. This allows you to experiment and make changes without worrying about breaking your site or losing data.

2. Better Accessibility

Running WordPress locally allows you to work on your projects even when you don’t have an internet connection. This can be useful if you’re a freelance WordPress developer or working in a location with limited internet access.

3. Learning Curve

If you’re new to WordPress, installing it locally can be a great way to learn how it works and practice using its features before launching a live site. So why not give it a try? Installing WordPress locally can help take your WordPress projects to the next level.

System Requirements for a Localhost

Here are the system requirements for running WordPress locally on Windows or Mac:

Hardware Requirements

  • 4GB RAM and 1.5GB disk space

Software Requirements

  • PHP 7.4+, MySQL 5.6+ OR MariaDB 10.1+, HTTPS support, and a local server environment such as Apache or Nginx

These are the minimum requirements, but more disk space is recommended for large sites or custom environments.

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Installing WordPress on a Localhost

Setting up a local WordPress site is a simple process. Still, it’s important to note that WordPress itself does not run directly on your local machine but instead requires a web server, PHP, and a database (such as MySQL and MariaDB) to create the environment in which it operates.

The process of building a local WordPress environment typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Set up the environment: Install the necessary components, including a web server, PHP, and a database.
  2. Download a stable WordPress version: Download the latest stable version of WordPress from the official website.
  3. Install WordPress on the localhost: Follow the installation instructions to install WordPress on your local machine.

Managed WordPress hosting by Cloudways meets all the localhost requirements making it very easy to install.

Installing WordPress on Windows

If you’re using a Windows operating system and want to install WordPress, please follow the process of setting up and configuring a virtual host on Windows 10 using XAMPP.

Note that you can use either XAMPP or WAMP, depending on your preference. For the purposes of this guide, I will be using XAMPP.

Step 1: Download XAMPP and WordPress

Before installing WordPress, setting up the proper environment on your Windows is important. This can be done by installing a server–database stack, which includes Apache as a web server and MySQL as the database. Once XAMPP is installed and configured, you’ll be ready to install WordPress.

  • On the XAMPP download page, select the option that works best with the latest PHP version.
  • Once the download finishes, run the installer to install XAMPP on your local system.

XAMPP, downloadable from the Apache website

  • After installation, launch the XAMPP control panel to view and set the status for Apache and MySQL.
  • In the XAMPP control panel, make sure to checkmark the Apache and MySQL options, as they are necessary for installing WordPress locally.

install latest version of XAMPP

Step 2: Install and Set up WordPress Locally

download the WordPress setup from the official website

  • Move the downloaded zip file to the /htdocs folder in the XAMPP directory.
  • Unzip the file and navigate to the project directory.
  • Ensure Apache and MySQL services in the XAMPP control panel are running.
  • Visit the phpMyAdmin portal to create the database for your new WordPress site.

The portal can usually be found at http://localhost/phpmyadmin, depending on your port configuration. For example: http://localhost:80/phpmyadmin/.

phpmyadmin

  • Launch the WordPress installation setup once the database is created by visiting http://localhost/newwpsite/wp-admin/setup-config.php.
  • Select the desired language and click Continue.

💡 Note: Make sure to replace “newwpsite” with the name of your project directory and adjust the port number if necessary.

launch the WordPress

  • On the next screen, follow the steps to add database credentials to the wp-config.php file.

add database credentials to the wp-config.php file

  • Open the wp-config.php file within your preferred code editor and define database credentials as follows:
// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define( 'DB_NAME', 'newwpsite' );
/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', 'root' );
/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', '' );
  • Save the file and go back to the WordPress installation wizard.
  • Enter the database name, username, and password. You may also define your table prefix, but keeping the default value is recommended.
  • Click Submit. The next screen will confirm the successful database configuration.

WordPress installation wizard

  • Click Run the installation to begin the WordPress installation process.

Run the installation

  • In the next screen, provide information about your website and set the username and password to access the WordPress dashboard.
  • Once done, click the Install WordPress button.

WordPress dashboard

WordPress dashboard login page

That’s all you need to do to install WordPress locally on your Windows machine.

Installing WordPress on macOS

If you are a Mac user, you can also use WordPress locally on your Mac. Like Windows, you must set up a stack to run WordPress locally. Although the steps differ slightly, the overall process of using WordPress on Mac remains the same.

Step 1: Download MAMP

  • Download MAMP from the official website to set up a web server and database for the WordPress installation.
  • Install MAMP by running the installation wizard. You may be asked to install the Pro version, but this is not mandatory; you can start with the free version.

Download latest version of MAMP

  • Once installation finishes, head over to the MAMP controller and start the server.

MAMP controller

  • Once the server is up and running, click the Open WebStart page to launch phpMyAdmin.

Step 2: Install WordPress Locally for Mac

download the WordPress setup from the official website

  • Unzip the downloaded file and place the folder inside the MAMP document root folder. You can rename this folder as the name of your WordPress site.
  • Create a database using phpMyAdmin through the MAMP control panel.
  • Add the database name and head over to the wp-config.php file to add database credentials.
  • Run the WordPress installation wizard by visiting http://localhost/newwpsite/wp-admin/setup-config.php, replacing “newwpsite” with the name of your project directory.

installation wizard

The rest of the steps remain the same as when installing WordPress locally on Windows.

Creating Staging for Local Development

Updating a live website without testing it can be risky. A staging environment, which is a private and password-protected replica of your website, can help you avoid errors and save time and effort.

Making changes on your staging website won’t affect your live website until you push the changes. While many hosting providers charge for a staging environment, some providers, such as Cloudways, offer a free 1-click staging environment for all plans.

This allows you to speed up your development workflow and save money in the long run. Choosing a hosting provider with free WordPress staging ensures your website updates are tested before going live.

Here’s how to create a staging environment using the Cloudways Platform:

  • Log in to the Cloudways Platform using your credentials.
  • Click on View all Servers after logging in to your account and choose the server where your Application is deployed.

view all servers wordpress localhost

  • Click on www and select your application.

choose application wordpress localhost

  • Open the Quick Options menu, and click on Clone App/Create Staging to create a staging environment.

create staging wordpress localhost

  • In the dialog box, select the server where you want to create the staging environment. Then, choose Create as Staging and click on Continue.

staging server wordpress localhost

  • Wait for the staging site deployment to begin. It will be a complete clone of your live application.
  • Once launched, the staging application will be available in the applications list with the staging tag.

staging site wordpress localhost

These steps will help you create a staging environment for your application on the Cloudways Platform, allowing you to test changes before pushing them to your live website.

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Optimizing Your Local WordPress Installation

Here are some tips on how to optimize your local WordPress installation for better performance:

  1. Disable unnecessary plugins: Review the plugins you have installed and disable any that you’re not using or that aren’t essential for your development work.
  2. Increase PHP memory limit: Edit your wp-config.php file and add the following code: define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’).
  3. Use a lightweight theme: Choose a theme that is optimized for speed and has a minimal design.
  4. Use a caching plugin: Install a caching plugin like WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, or WP Rocket to store frequently accessed data in cache memory.
  5. Optimize your images: Compress your images without compromising on quality using tools like TinyPNG, ShortPixel, or Imagify.

Troubleshooting Errors of Local Installation

Here are some common errors that you may encounter during the installation process of a local WordPress installation, along with some troubleshooting tips:

  1. 404 Page not found error: Check your permalink settings and ensure they are set to “Post name” or a custom structure.
  2. Error establishing a database connection: Check your database credentials in the wp-config.php file and make sure they match the database you created.
  3. Failed to connect to the FTP server: Check your FTP credentials and make sure they are correct.
  4. HTTP Error when uploading images: Increase the PHP memory limit and maximum file size in your php.ini file.
  5. White screen of death: Try disabling your plugins and switching to a default theme to isolate the issue.

Summary

In conclusion, installing and running WordPress locally on Windows or Mac is a great way to develop and test your website before publishing it online.

This guide has provided an overview of the reasons to install WordPress locally, the system requirements for a localhost, and detailed instructions for installing WordPress on both Windows and macOS.

Also, it has covered how to create a staging site for local development, optimize your local installation, and troubleshoot any errors that may arise during the local installation process. After reading this post, a fully functional WordPress site can quickly run on your local machine.

Q. Can I install WordPress manually?

A. Yes, it is possible to manually install WordPress. The process involves downloading the latest version of WordPress from wordpress.org, unzipping the file, and uploading it to a directory such as public_html. Then, a MySQL database and users need to be created, followed by configuring the wp-config.php file. Finally, the installation program can be run to complete the installation process.

Q. Can I install WordPress offline?

A. Yes, it is possible to install WordPress offline.

To do so, you would need to download the latest version of WordPress from wordpress.org and then install a local server environment such as XAMPP, WAMP, or MAMP on your computer.

Once you have installed the local server, you can create a new database and configure the wp-config.php file accordingly.

Q. Should I download WordPress or use it online?

A. For personal bloggers who do not intend to monetize their websites, the free version of WordPress.com is a suitable choice.

However, if you are a business or blogger looking to generate revenue from your site, we recommend using the self-hosted WordPress.org platform. This will give you greater flexibility and control over your website and access to various plugins and customizations.

Q. How to install WordPress locally via the on-screen installer?

A. Here are the quick steps to install WordPress locally via the on-screen installer:

  1. Set up a local server using XAMPP or MAMP.
  2. Create a database for your WordPress installation.
  3. Download the WordPress files and extract them to a local folder.
  4. Rename the extracted folder to something like “mywebsite” and move it to the ‘htdocs’ directory of your local server.
  5. Open your web browser and navigate to http://localhost/mywebsite to initiate the WordPress on-screen setup process.
  6. Fill in the database details, including the database name, username, and password, then click “Submit” and “Run the installation.”
  7. On the next screen, provide information about your site title, desired username, password, and email address, then click “Install WordPress.”

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Liza Rajput

Liza Rajput is a Technical Content Producer at Cloudways. Being a software engineer, she loves to play with data and its processes and wishes to grow and excel in Data Science and Big Data Engineering. She has also been an avid reader and exceptional writer, with sufficient experience in technical, research-based, and creative writing.

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