Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

In an earlier article, I mentioned that MAMP Pro was still the best native GUI for managing web services on the Mac, now that macOS Server will no longer serve up those patchy services. After we cover the management in this article, you’ll likely understand why it comes it at $59. 

So you’ve installed MAMP. And you need more than the few basic buttons available there. So MAMP Pro came with it and you can try it for a couple of weeks for free. When you open MAMP Pro, you’ll see a screen where you can perform a number of management tasks. This is a more traditional side-bar-driven screen that will look like what Server Admin might have looked like before the web services screen got simplified in macOS Server.

The Hosts item in SETTINGS will show you each host installed on the server. Think of a host as a site. Each web server can serve up a virtually unlimited number of websites. You can configure an IP binding to the site, or hav
If you click on the plus sign, you can add a site. In this example, I’ll add and then click on create. When doing so, you can configure a database for each site (e.g. if you’re doing multi-tenant hosting), build a site off a template, or select a root directory for the site. 

The Apache tab of each host allows you to configure host-specific settings, including enabling options for directives such as Indexes, Includes, SymLink following, and CGI. More options than were in macOS Server for sure. You can also order allows, allow overrides, add new directives, set the index (or the default page of each site), add additional virtualhosts (such as for, and add a server admin email address. 

These were Apache-centric settings for each host. Click on the Nginx tab if you’re using Nginx instead of Apache. Nginx is a bit less “patchy” so there are a fewer options here. But they’re similar: Configure an index, add parameters, and a feature not available in the GUI options for Apache: allow or deny access based on IP.
The SSL tab allows you to generate a CSR, upload the cert and key file, and force connections to use https.

The Extras tab allows you to automatically install standard web packages. For example, here we’ll select WordPress.

Click on the Databases tab. To connect a site to a database, enter the name of the database when prompted. Note: the site itself will need credentials in order to connect, and if you’ve setup an “Extra” in the above step, the database will automatically be configured.

Next, let’s configure the ports used by the web servers. The previous settings were per-site. The rest that we cover in this article will be per-server, as these are global settings applied to the daemons themselves. Each of those services will have a port or ports associated with them. For example, the standard web port used is 80 or 443 for SSL-based connections and the standard port for MySQL is 3306. For publicly-facing sites these would be the standard ports, and given how common they are, there’s a button for “Set ports to 80, 81, 443, 7443, 3306”. Otherwise, you can enter each independently. Because the attaching of daemons is done here, this is also where you configure the user that services run as, as well as when to start the services and truncate log files.

The Editor option configures how the editor appears, which we’ll cover last in this article. The Editing option manages how the editor works (e.g. things  like tabs, autocompletes, etc.

The Fonts & Colors tab allows you to select each color assigned to various types of text.  

The Default Apps tab allows you to configure which app is opened when opening each type of file supported. 

Again, we’ll look at the editor later in this article. First, let’s finish getting the web server setup. Click on Apache. Here, you can load new Apache mods you download from the interwebs. I should mention that an important security step in locking down a publicly-facing web server is to disable all of the mods you don’t absolutely need. 

At the bottom of this screen, there’s also a handle little link to the directory with your logs, so you can read through them if needed.

The Nginx option underneath is similar. Access to log files is there, as is the ability to enable installed Nginx mods. 

The MySQL option also provides access to some straight-forward command-line options, but in a nice GUI. Here, you can configure a root password for MySQL ( which does this: Reset A Lost MySQL Password ), enable phpMyAdmin, MySQL Workbench, and Sequel Pro-based administration, enable network access to the MySQL Service (using ports configured in the Ports section of the app) which I cover at Allow Remote Connections To MySQL, and view logs.

The Dynamic DNS options are cool. Click there, and if your web server is behind a DHCP address, you can configure a dynamic DNS service including DNS-O-Matic,,,, etc. This way when you reboot and get a new IP address from your ISP, it’ll update the service automatically.

Memcached is a distributed memory object caching system. It’s used to make sites appear faster or to distribute caching between servers for systems that, for example, get clustered. It’s included here for a reason, I’m sure of it! Either way, I actually use it for a few things and like the fact that it’s there. To enable, simply choose how much memory to give it, configure the logging level (usually low unless you’re troubleshooting), and gain access to logs. If you check the “Include Memcached server in GroupStart” then memcache will fire up when you start your web services.

Click postfix. Here, you configure your server to route mail through an email account. If you run this from the command line, you can also configure your server to be a mail server; however, when you do that you’re likely to get mail bouncing all over the place. So if the server or a service on the server is supposed to send mail, it’s usually best to route through something like a gmail account. 

The Languages section allows you to configure how PHP, Python, Perl, and Ruby work on the server. For PHP, you can configure which version of PHP is installed, configure a version of PHP for hosts, enable caching (different than memcached), enable a few basic extensions (I’ve been playing with oauth a lot recently), choose logging options, and have a simple way to see the logs. 

Since you’re running on a Mac, you already have Python, but if you click on the Python option, you can make the version of Python bundled with Mac is 2.7.10 instead of 2.7.13.

Click on Perl to do the same.

Click on Ruby to do the same.

The editor is also pretty easy to use. Simply use the plus sign to add a file you’d like to edit. Keep in mind when browsing that everything MAMP Pro needs is self-contained in the /Applications/MAMP directory, so it should be pretty easy to find files for editing. 

And that’s it. This seems like a lot of stuff, but between sites like ServerFault and other Apache/Nginx articles, you’ll likely find most of the things you need. It’s worth mentioning that I consider this another baby step to just managing Apache using config files. macOS Server tried hard to reduce the complexity of where different settings and options are derived from; MAMP Pro makes no allusion that web server management should be so simple. That’s one of the things I like about it. It’s like you went from riding in a buggy on the back of a bike to riding with training wheels. The more you know, the better off you are.

March 10th, 2018

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, WordPress

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Leaman Crews

    I’m a long-time MAMP Pro user. I find it worth the investment for all the sysadmin time its GUI options saves. But I have a question you may be able to help with:

    When running MAMP or MAMP Pro on the same box as, you have to set the Apache ports to the “MAMP ports,” 8888 for http and 8889 for https (or some other unused ports of your choice) because Server’s Profile Manager takes over the standard ports, 80 and 443. Is there any way to configure Profile Manager to use different ports, so that I can serve up web pages with MAMP on the standard ports?

    • krypted

      I wish! I could configure Profile Manager to use different ports, but when you do, Profile Manager won’t be able to manage device properly any more. You could add a new IP to the server and then bind Apache to that IP, though.

      • Leaman Crews

        Thanks, that’s a great idea! And it’s another thing that MAMP Pro makes super-easy.

        • krypted

          I really did test all the web admin apps on the App Store before I wrote this article, just to make sure that MAMP Pro was still the best tool out there. I was quite disappointed that the $1 and $2 apps were all a total waste. The free MAMP is better than anything that actually costs money, sadly. It gets a little bit better every year, which is why they still deserve all the love! 🙂