Getting Started with DesktopServer

DesktopServer was created specifically to help WordPress designers or developers spin up local building and testing environments. Since creating a site takes just a few seconds, you’ll find it easy for testing out concepts, isolating problems, or even referencing dozens of sites that might still be in development.

In the following video promo, we demonstrate how to run DesktopServer for the very first time in OSX. Following are step by step instructions with large screenshots for Windows users (featuring Windows 7). This material should help answer some of the most common questions that arise when you install DesktopServer for the first time; however, please feel free to reach out to us if you hit any road blocks.

First, DesktopServer will want to start as an administrator. This is needed to create your ‘virtual servers’ so that your browser can find the non-existent .dev (dot D-E-V) domain for development. When you point to a .dev domain, you are working on your local box.

For security purposes, Windows will ask you to confirm, and Macintosh will ask you for your password. It’s just a matter of clicking ‘Yes’ on Windows7. If the database and web services are not already running, DesktopServer will prompt you to start them.

The caution arrow is to remind you that running a server may expose your computer to other users. This usually isn’t an issue for users at work or home as they are more likely to be behind a router’s firewall. But if you don’t trust your co-workers or are in a public area with potential hackers, like a WiFi hotspot, you may wish to check your settings.

Macintosh typically has it’s firewall off by default, but most Windows boxes have their firewall on. You may get a prompt from your firewall regarding “Apache HTTP Server” and “The MySQL Server”. You can accept the default which is to keep communications private. This is okay as we should be the only one accessing the development site.

The main menu is simple. DesktopServer displays just three basic options: Start or restart the database and web services, remove an existing development site, or create a new development site. We want to create our first WordPress website, so just click ‘next’ to accept the default answer, which is to create a new development website.

When creating your new site, you’ll be prompted for the domain name you would like to use. DesktopServer will automatically append the to your selected domain name. By default, this will also be the name of the folder that houses all your WordPress files. But you can specify a different name and location in the text below or by using the browse button to select a new directory.

Click ‘create’ and DesktopServer will copy all the WordPress files, create a database, configure WordPress to talk to that database, and make the fictitious host name entries so you can access the website by the friendly URL name. Click ‘next’ to continue.

DesktopServer will finish creating your web server and website. You’ll be presented with the URL of your website, and you can visit it for the first time by clicking the hyperlink or ‘next’. That’s about it! DesktopServer will return back to the three option menu so that you can create additional sites or remove the one you just created.

WordPress will want to know the title you’d like to give your site when visiting for the very first time. You’ll also be prompted to create the credentials for your admin user name and password. Enter the information (remember it!) and click ‘Install WordPress’ to finalize your site.


Finally, you can then log in to your site to see WordPress’ admin pages or you can just visit your homepage by typing the domain name in the address bar. You can also visit PhpMyAdmin to access your MySQL server by typing slash ‘phpmyadmin’ after the domain name (i.e.


You can also visit a list of your created websites

Locating Files

Now that your website is created, you are probably wondering where the files are. If you accepted all the defaults, then your isolated website files are in a folder titled Websites inside your Documents folder. Look for another folder with the same name as your development site’s domain name, i.e. a folder titled

For troubleshooting tips, please be sure to reference the troubleshooting section in How to Install DesktopServer.