Tania Rascia

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Setting Up Virtual Hosts

Setting Up Virtual Hosts

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Did you read about how to set up a local server environment, or do you already know how to do that? The next step is setting up virtual hosts. I’ve found most – if not all – of the resources and tutorials about setting up virtual hosts to be lacking. I’m going to set it up for the first time on the laptop I’m on, so I’ll be able to guarantee every step.

At this point, MAMP is set up, and going to http://localhost:8888 will take you to the document root you set.

1. Allow virtual hosts


In Finder, go to Applications > MAMP > conf > apache > httpd.conf and open the file with your text editor.

Find this line:

# Virtual hosts
#Include /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Uncomment the code by removing the hash symbol.

# Virtual hosts
Include /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

In File Explorer, go to C:/ > MAMP > conf > apache > httpd.conf and open the file with your text editor.

Find this line:

# Virtual hosts
#Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Uncomment the code.

# Virtual hosts
Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

2. Allow SymLink Override

Find this line in that same httpd.conf file.

<Directory />
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None

You’re going to change None to All.

<Directory />
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All

3. Add the virtual host path

First of all, open MAMP, and ensure the document root is Applications > MAMP > htdocs. This is the default, but if you’ve been using localhost, you may have moved it.

All the way at the end of the extra/httpd-vhosts.conf file, you’re going to place a code that signifies a virtual host and specifies the path. Place this code at the end of the document.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName example.dev
  DocumentRoot "/path/to/directory"

Change the DocumentRoot to wherever your PHP project is located. This is my path, but yours will of course be different.

As of 2017, Chrome no longer allows .dev domain endings for local websites. Consider using .test instead.

DocumentRoot "/Users/tania/sites/learnphp"
DocumentRoot "C:/Users/tania/sites/learnphp"

Make sure to restart the servers on MAMP after making any changes! If you don’t reset the server to apply the changes, nothing will work even though you know you’ve done everything right. Trust me, I’ve done that too many times.

4. Allow your computer to recognize your local domain


Open the Terminal application. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use Terminal or the command line; you only need to follow strict commands right now. (However, please read this guide when you decide to learn it!)

Type this in Terminal.

sudo pico /etc/hosts

You will be prompted for your password. Then a scary screen will come up that looks like this.

## # Host Database # # localhost is used to configure the loopback interface # when the system is booting. Do not change this entry. ## localhost broadcasthost ::1 localhost fe80::1%lo0 localhost example.dev

You are actually editing a text based file. At this point, I’m just going to keep pressing the down arrow until I reach the end of the list. At the next line, I will type my new server name after, which is the computer’s local address. example.dev

Now press ctrl + o – Not cmd + o – to save the file. Press enter to confirm. And press ctrl + x to exit.


If Notepad is open, close out of it. This time right click on Notepad and select “Open as Administrator”. Open this file in Notepad:


At the bottom of the file, type the name of your virtual host. example.dev

At this point, the Window’s installation of Virtual Hosts is complete! Go to example.dev in your browser. Make an index.php file with the contents <?php echo 'Hello, world!' ?> and place it in the directory to test.

5. Remove :8888 from custom server URL

Almost done! After restarting your MAMP server, you can go to http://example.dev:8888 and it will take you to your path.

That’s pretty good. But, I want to make this perfect. I want to remove the :8888 from the end of the URL.

Back in the httpd.conf file, find these two instances (they won’t be next to each other):

Listen 8888
ServerName localhost:8888

And change them to this:

Listen 80
ServerName localhost:80

Save the file. Finally, in MAMP, Preferences > Ports, change the ports to 80, 8888, and 3306.

Restart your servers and try http://example.dev in your browser.

And now it works! You can repeat the code as many times as you want, for as many virtual hosts as you want.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName website1.dev
  DocumentRoot "path/to/website1"

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName website2.dev
  DocumentRoot "path/to/website2"

If the above example doesn’t work, try removing :80 from the VirtualHosts tag, as this seemed to fix the problem for anyone having an issue. However, I just tested this April, 2017 on a new MAMP and new computer, and I can confirm if you follow it exactly you won’t have an issue.


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  • Carlo says:

    Thank you so much for your guide, I was able to relearn what i needed to do quickly! Please keep up the good work Tania!

  • IRMA says:

    Hi Tania, thanks for this information, but before of my virtual host configuration, the file styles.css worked well, now, after of virtual host, it doesn't.

    Could you help me please?

  • Rob says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial Tania. I am new to MAMP and your guide help me to set up the virtual hosts which I was struggling with. Nice one!

  • Mario says:

    Thank you for this great instructions, I managed to set it up, for the most part… for some reason http://example.dev is pointing to the localhost root folder, instead of the folder /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/example.dev where it is located.

  • Saksham says:

    Excellent post. Nicely explained steps that are easy to follow.
    Thanks for this.

  • Lewis says:

    Excellent post.

  • Cal says:

    I ran into problems.

    I'm running Windows 7
    I modified the httpd.conf file removing # in front of "Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf"
    I could not find the conf/extra directory or httpd-vhosts.conf file anywhere so I created them.

    I still can't get it to work.


  • Preethi says:

    Simple and easy to follow and it works the very first time. Thank you Tania!

  • Robyn Nysschens says:

    Couldn't get the command in windows command line to work. I am stuck if anyone can help.

  • Aigars says:

    I don't usually comment, but this was really useful (especially points 1 & 2 which, for some reason, really are not mentioned anywhere else).


  • Carlos says:

    Thank you Tania! X

  • Anonymous says:

    Disregard previous post. After adding the domain to ampps, it works just fine. Didnt even need to complete the additional steps of removing port calls from the url

  • Anonymous says:

    Followed the examples here. Seems pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, after completing it and testing, while the domain name I used does work in a browser, it shows me the directory listing of the files in the original server host. My guess is the host file entries are right, there is an issue with the related path in the config files (?).

  • MBlight says:

    I am following this tutorial on a PC. Once I set the document root to C:\MAMP\htdocs there is no location called extra/httpd-vhosts.conf.

    I have quit out and gone in to MAMP several times. To no avail.

    Does changing the Document Root after editing the httpd.conf file to have Virtual hosts trigger the addition of the extra folder, or should it have been there at the start of this exercise?

  • Tbo says:

    Disregard the previous post – after trying back and forth with and without the second virtual host and saving httpd-vhosts.conf several times it suddenly works.

    Thank you for the tutorial πŸ™‚

  • Tbo says:

    It works up to: “And now it works! You can repeat the code as many times as you want, for as many virtual hosts as you want.”

    When adding another virtual host in httpd-vhosts.conf I am unable to start the server again (“Apache couldn’t be started. Please check your MAMP installation and configuration.”).

    Removing the extra virtual host “solves” the problem (Apache restarts) – but I really wanted more than one host, so what can be wrong? I have tried to add another line in etc/hosts, without luck. I have tried removing :80 from the VirtualHosts tag, without luck.

  • Ben says:

    Hello Tania,

    Thank you for writing this tutorial. After getting MAMP up and running on my Windows environment (first tutorial), I can access localhost and the index.php file that we put there. Then, after following the steps in this tutorial, I can access http://example.test and the index.php file we put there. HOWEVER, now localhost no longer works. I get “Not Found, The requested URL / was not found on this server.” I have uninstalled and reinstalled and followed the directions again, same result. Any ideas about what might be going on?

    Thank you!

    • Ben says:

      On a stackexchange post for XAMP I found the following solution which worked for me. Once virtual hosts is turned on, you need to configure a virtual host to point to localhost. In C:\MAMP\bin\apache\conf\extra\httpd-vhosts.conf, I added the following and it started working:

      ServerName localhost
      DocumentRoot “C:/MAMP/htdocs”

      Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes execCGI
      AllowOverride All
      Order Allow,Deny
      Allow From All

      • Ben says:

        Sorry, in the above post some of the information doesn’t show up. I followed the format from Tania’s tutorial for adding a virtual host, with servername localhost, directory pointing to c:/MAMP/htdocs, etc.

  • Marc says:

    Thanks so much for your article! Really helpful and saved me a lot of time πŸ™‚

  • Miles Walker says:

    Hello Tania,

    pure respect for making this tutorial, just just finished the dev environment one and its gone so well so far. I’m a designer trying to get into dev but have no idea where to start with virtual host and environments so this has really helped me!

    I got to the end of step 4 but when I paste in the url I get this error

    This site can’t provide a secure connection
    example.test sent an invalid response.
    Try running Network Diagnostics.

    I really don’t know where i’m going wrong and hoped you’d be able to clear it up for me.

    Many thanks

    • Tania says:

      This means you’re trying to connect to an SSL (https) connection. I don’t know why it ended up like that for you, but you’ll have to figure out that on an individual basis by researching posts like this. Your localhost might already be configured to SSL, or something along those lines. You can also try using another browser. I haven’t run into this issue myself.

      • Miles Walker says:

        Hi Tania,

        after going through the tutorial again from scratch I managed to overcome the issue, I had missed off your note about .test

        the issue I face now is when I open the url the browser opens

        Index of /

        instead of the actual php file. is there a reason for this?

        thanks for your patience