Setup WordPress in your computer with DesktopServer

Last updated: October 20, 2020
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Estimated reading time: 4 min

This article describes how to install DesktopServer locally in your computer so you can run WordPress websites. DesktopServer is paid software but has a free version that lets you run up to 3 sites.

You can watch the video to see how the setup goes or read on for the text version which has a few more details.
Walkthrough video setting up WordPress with DesktopServer (Mac)

Download DesktopServer

To download DesktopServer go to their site at https://serverpress.com/.

DesktopServer’s home page at serverpress.com

You’ll be asked to enter your email with an option to subscribe to their newsletter. You will get some emails about how to use DesktopServer. The first email is important because it gives you the user and password for your WordPress install if you use their dynamic blueprint to install WordPress. Save the file somewhere you can remember.

Enter email. Subscribe to newsletter optional.

Install DesktopServer

Once you have downloaded the file double click on it to open it. Then you click on the install package.

Click to install package

You will find DesktopServer under your applications folder: Applications > XAMPP. Double click on the icon to run the application.

DesktopServer is installed under the XAMPP folder

Creating your first site with DesktopServer

When you first run the software you will be presented with this screen that lets you choose several options. The only one I usually choose is the Admin Color Bar because I like that it turns it blue so I know I’m working on a dev site and not the production/live site. Click “Next” to continue.

Choose plugins (optional)

DesktopServer needs permission to create your sites. Add your login info and continue.

Permissions required

Just a few more steps.

You have to start the services before creating a new site.

Choose the “create” option to create your new site. Click “Next” to proceed.

Choose create a new dev site.

Now you get to input your site’s name and choose a blueprint to use. The WordPress-latest-blueprint.zip is a dynamic blueprint and will install WordPress with a set user/password (testadmin/password) and a default email. Generally you will want to set these so choose the next blueprint in the list. If you want to use the latest version of WordPress you can download it from wordpress.org and save the zipped file to the blueprints folder which is located in your Applications folder under XAMPP. You will see it right above the DesktopServer icon.

Add site name and choose a blueprint.

Before moving on to the next screen you might want to note where your site files will be saved in your computer for easy access later.

Site files are under /Users/yourusername/Sites/mysite.dev.cc

The site configuration can take up to a minute to be created. When the screen says “Done!” you can click on “Next” to continue the process.

This step takes up to a minute.

Once the configuration of the site is complete you will get a clickable link to continue the WordPress site configuration.

Click on the link to proceed to WordPress setup.

The program will open up a browser window on your default browser and show you a list of languages for you to choose the one you want as a base language.

Choose your language from the list

Now you get to the juicy stuff! Add your site’s name and the user and password that you want. You might want to choose a user with both characters and numbers something like “myadmin_67site” or something made up like that. Use the strong password WordPress generates for you its for the best! After you are done click “Install WordPress”.

Fill in site and login details

Now you are done with the installation and can proceed to login with the user/password you chose in the previous step.

You are finished. Log into your WordPress backend.

Viewing your installed website

Login to the site in order to get access to the backend of WordPress

Login to the backend

At this point you will be shown your WordPress dashboard where you can start adding content to your site.

WordPress Dashboard

When you go to the front of your site you will see the blue admin bar which clearly states this is a “DEVELOPMENT WEBSITE”. The site will have the latest WordPress theme installed, in this case it is twentytwenty.

View your WordPress site

How to view your sites and databases

Once you have created at least one site the “Sites” button will appear on the DesktopServer dialog. This will open a browser window with a list of your sites and several useful links such as to phpmyadmin or the WordPress dashboard of each site.

Viewing the sites you have created

Here you can see the useful links listed. You can even use the WP-CLI tool called DS CLI.

Sites and useful links

Notes about Blueprints

DesktopServer has a feature called blueprints that let you setup your new WordPress site with plugins and settings already included. This is done by creating your site as usual, installing all the plugins, themes, page builders, etc that you want and then you go to DesktopServer and in the dialog that says “Create a new development website.” you want to choose the option above “Remove, copy or move an existing website”. When you do a copy save it to the blueprints folder (under Applications>XAMPP). Now the next time you create a site you can use this “starter site” for ease of use.

You might be asking yourself what if my plugins/themes have been updated since I created the blueprint? DesktopServer has a new feature called Dynamic Blueprints where you can set the path of your updated plugin so DesktopServer uses the newer versions of the plugins.

There is an article published by ServerPress that shows how to edit the dynamic blueprints to update Beaver Builder, Elementor and Divi. You have to change a few lines to tell the package where to find the updated plugin versions.

Thank you for reading.

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