CascadiaPHP 2024

Using the bundled PHP prior to macOS Monterey

PHP is bundled with macOS since macOS X (10.0.0) prior to macOS Monterey (12.0.0). Enabling PHP with the default web server requires uncommenting a few lines in the Apache configuration file httpd.conf whereas the CGI and/or CLI are enabled by default (easily accessible via the Terminal program).

Enabling PHP using the instructions below is meant for quickly setting up a local development environment. It's highly recommended to always upgrade PHP to the newest version. Like most live software, newer versions are created to fix bugs and add features and PHP being is no different. See the appropriate macOS installation documentation for further details. The following instructions are geared towards a beginner with details provided for getting a default setup to work. All users are encouraged to compile, or install a new packaged version.

The standard installation type is using mod_php, and enabling the bundled mod_php on macOS for the Apache web server (the default web server, that is accessible via System Preferences) involves the following steps:

  1. Locate and open the Apache configuration file. By default, the location is as follows: /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf Using Finder or Spotlight to find this file may prove difficult as by default it's private and owned by the root user.

    Note: One way to open this is by using a Unix based text editor in the Terminal, for example nano, and because the file is owned by root we'll use the sudo command to open it (as root) so for example type the following into the Terminal Application (after, it will prompt for a password): sudo nano /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf Noteworthy nano commands: ^w (search), ^o (save), and ^x (exit) where ^ represents the Ctrl key.

    Note: Versions of Mac OS X prior to 10.5 were bundled with older versions of PHP and Apache. As such, the Apache configuration file on legacy machines may be /etc/httpd/httpd.conf.

  2. With a text editor, uncomment the lines (by removing the #) that look similar to the following (these two lines are often not together, locate them both in the file):

    # LoadModule php5_module libexec/httpd/
    # AddModule mod_php5.c
    Notice the location/path. When building PHP in the future, the above files should be replaced or commented out.

  3. Be sure the desired extensions will parse as PHP (examples: .php .html and .inc)

    Due to the following statement already existing in httpd.conf (as of Mac Panther), once PHP is enabled the .php files will automatically parse as PHP.

    <IfModule mod_php5.c>
        # If php is turned on, we respect .php and .phps files.
        AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
        AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps
        # Since most users will want index.php to work we
        # also automatically enable index.php
        <IfModule mod_dir.c>
            DirectoryIndex index.html index.php


    Before Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), PHP 4 was bundled instead of PHP 5 in which case the above instructions will differ slightly by changing 5's to 4's.

  4. Be sure the DirectoryIndex loads the desired default index file This is also set in httpd.conf. Typically index.php and index.html are used. By default index.php is enabled because it's also in the PHP check shown above. Adjust accordingly.
  5. Set the php.ini location or use the default A typical default location on macOS is /usr/local/php/php.ini and a call to phpinfo() will reveal this information. If a php.ini is not used, PHP will use all default values. See also the related FAQ on finding php.ini.
  6. Locate or set the DocumentRoot This is the root directory for all the web files. Files in this directory are served from the web server so the PHP files will parse as PHP before outputting them to the browser. A typical default path is /Library/WebServer/Documents but this can be set to anything in httpd.conf. Alternatively, the default DocumentRoot for individual users is /Users/yourusername/Sites
  7. Create a phpinfo() file

    The phpinfo() function will display information about PHP. Consider creating a file in the DocumentRoot with the following PHP code:

    <?php phpinfo(); ?>

  8. Restart Apache, and load the PHP file created above

    To restart, either execute sudo apachectl graceful in the shell or stop/start the "Personal Web Server" option in the macOS System Preferences. By default, loading local files in the browser will have an URL like so: http://localhost/info.php Or using the DocumentRoot in the user directory is another option and would end up looking like: http://localhost/~yourusername/info.php

The CLI (or CGI in older versions) is appropriately named php and likely exists as /usr/bin/php. Open up the terminal, read the command line section of the PHP manual, and execute php -v to check the PHP version of this PHP binary. A call to phpinfo() will also reveal this information.

add a note

User Contributed Notes 2 notes

15 years ago
You only have to uncomment:
#LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/

This is gone:
# AddModule mod_php5.c

The statement in 3 was changed to:
<IfModule mime_module>
# TypesConfig points to the file containing the list of mappings from
# filename extension to MIME-type.
TypesConfig /private/etc/apache2/mime.types

# AddType allows you to add to or override the MIME configuration
# file specified in TypesConfig for specific file types.
#AddType application/x-gzip .tgz
# AddEncoding allows you to have certain browsers uncompress
# information on the fly. Note: Not all browsers support this.
#AddEncoding x-compress .Z
#AddEncoding x-gzip .gz .tgz
# If the AddEncoding directives above are commented-out, then you
# probably should define those extensions to indicate media types:
AddType application/x-compress .Z
AddType application/x-gzip .gz .tgz

# AddHandler allows you to map certain file extensions to "handlers":
# actions unrelated to filetype. These can be either built into the server
# or added with the Action directive (see below)
# To use CGI scripts outside of ScriptAliased directories:
# (You will also need to add "ExecCGI" to the "Options" directive.)
#AddHandler cgi-script .cgi

# For type maps (negotiated resources):
#AddHandler type-map var

# Filters allow you to process content before it is sent to the client.
# To parse .shtml files for server-side includes (SSI):
# (You will also need to add "Includes" to the "Options" directive.)
#AddType text/html .shtml
#AddOutputFilter INCLUDES .shtml

Extra MIME types can either be added to the file /private/etc/apache2/mime.types or by using an AddType directive as commented on above.
10086 at xiaoi dot me
5 years ago
setup apache + php environment on macOS 10.12.6

step 1: start httpd by apachectl
> sudo apachectl start

step 2: find httpd.conf
> sudo apachectl -t -D DUMP_INCLUDES

step 3: edit conf, eg: /opt/local/etc/apache2/httpd.conf
> sudo vim /opt/local/etc/apache2/httpd.conf

step 4: Load php module before <IfModule unixd_module>, eg:
LoadModule php5_module /usr/libexec/apache2/
<IfModule unixd_module>

step 5: add mod_php5.c end of httpd.conf
<IfModule mod_php5.c>
AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps
<IfModule mod_dir.c>
DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

step 6: save and quit
step 7: restart httpd
> sudo apachectl restart

step 8: write demo.php , test configuration

step 9: copy demo.php to "DocumentRoot", you can find by httpd.conf

step 10: visit demo.php

all done.
To Top