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How To Set Up WordPress With DesktopServer

If you work with WordPress or you simply want to use WordPress to build your own blog or website, you're better off working on a localhost environment before moving the site to a live server. Setting up your localhost environment using MAMP or XAMPP is the usual way to go, but in this tutorial I'm going to show you an alternative that's both easy to setup and very useful - DesktopServer.
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Whether you work with WordPress as a designer or a developer, or you want to test out any WordPress plugins and themes, or you simply want to use WordPress to build your own blog, your should first always consider working on a local setup. In other words, using your own computer as your server.

Setting up your localhost environment directly through MAMP or XAMPP is usually the way to go, but in this tutorial I’m going to show you an alternative (that also uses XAMPP) that’s easier to use and quicker to set up – DesktopServer.


“Choose fictional domain names to personalise each of your projects and create dozens of virtual servers in seconds. WordPress designers and developers seldom work on a single project. Now you can create multiple isolated sites for web design or just for quickly and safely testing those plugins you’ve been meaning to try out.”  – ServerPress

All it is is a local server package for both Mac and Windows with which you can create multiple “virtual servers” right on your own computer. They can be used to test new products or to develop a whole site, and they’re easily accessible in any browser.

Alternatively, you can opt for the free DevKinsta tool, a local WordPress development tool that works on Windows, macOS and Ubuntu.

Setting Up DesktopServer

This tutorial will focus on the installation of the free (limited) version of DesktopServer on OS X. If you follow the steps below you’ll have your test site up and running in just a few minutes.

Step 1:

Go to ServerPress‘ website and download DesktopServer Limited from the links provided.

Once downloaded, install it like any other application.

Step 2:

Launch DesktopServer.

You will now be prompted to complete the setup. Follow the steps, and when asked about which product you wish to install, select New DesktopServer Limited Installation.

Once the installation is complete you’ll be prompted to close DesktopServer and restart it from your Apps.

Step 3:

When you open the app, you’ll be told that DesktopServer needs to run as an Administrator on your computer. Choose to “Yes. Restart DesktopServer with privileges” and click Next.


Step 4:

Next, you’ll be asked to start running web and database services Apache and MySQL. Choose “Yes” and click Next.


Step 5:

With both services now running, your next step is to “Create your new development site.”


Step 6:

Choose any Name you’d like, in this case I’ve left it as

For the Blueprint it’s recommended to download the latest version of WordPress if it’s not available from the drop-down list. Once downloaded, drop it into the folder at Applications/XAMPP/blueprints on your Mac and it should appear in the list.

The Site Root is where you’ll be able to locate your development site and all the files associated with it.


Step 7:

Your configuration is now complete. Click on the link provided to finish your WordPress setup.


Step 8:

Last but not least, you’ll need to complete the famous Five Minute WordPress Install.


You’re ready!

Your website is now up and running on your own computer.


Conclusions & Recommendations

DesktopServer offers a very valuable alternative to setting up a local server for your WordPress testing. Apart from what’s already been mentioned, there are a couple of other reasons that this setup wins out over others.

First off, when backing up your computer or moving a development site, the sites are stored in a Websites folder within your Documents, ensuring that you won’t forget where they are or to back them up, since the Documents folder is usually the first thing you back up.

Secondly, if you need to use a multisite setup or you want to develop multiple sites at once, you can do so by upgrading to DesktopServer Premium, and the ability to name the site anything you like together with the .dev solution used by DesktopServer minimises the chance of confusing it for your live site when making important changes.


To get a better idea of what DesktopServer offers that other alternatives don’t, you can take a look at their Comparison Matrix. It highlights all the important features that other setups lack.

Have you used DesktopServer before? What are your thoughts about it? If you haven’t, has this post convinced you to give it a go yet? Let us know in the comments below.

Mark Zahra
Mark Zahra
CEO at RebelCode, the team behind WP Mayor, Spotlight Instagram Feeds for WordPress, and WP RSS Aggregator. Follow me on Twitter @markzahra to get my thoughts on running a WordPress business, product design, pricing, marketing, and more.

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7 Responses

  1. I’m a long time Desktopserver, and I love it. I haven’t tested InstantWP, but if it’s better than Desktopserver it must be in a class of its own.

    1. Agreed govertz, I use it daily and I’ve honestly never had a complaint about it so far.

    1. Thanks Oscar! Though am I correct in saying that InstantWP is only for Windows, not Mac?

        1. I’ve been converted to Mac myself, and I’ve found DesktopServer to work perfect for me. Good to know about alternatives for Windows setups though, thanks again!

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