PHP has come standard with Macs since Mac OS X version 10.0.0. 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:
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.
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/libphp5.so # AddModule mod_php5.c
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 </IfModule> </IfModule>
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.
The phpinfo() function will display information about PHP. Consider creating a file in the DocumentRoot with the following PHP code:
<?php phpinfo(); ?>
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.