Skip to content

MAMP: Macintosh, Apache, MySQL & PHP

Through Michael Doig’s excellent tutorial, I recently discovered MAMP, a free package which provides recent builds of Apache, MySQL and PHP as a standalone installation on Mac. It’s geared towards local server development on a machine, as opposed to live sites, so it’s great for testing out stuff like WordPress locally.

Unfortunately, MAMP has issues. First of all, there is no documentation or even a FAQ which addresses the simple question of how to update MAMP. After taking a hint from the MAMP forums, it turned out to be rather straightforward:

  1. Stop the servers; I did this via the MAMP widget.
  2. Backup /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/ —basically any web content that you have added or changed.
  3. Backup /Applications/MAMP/db/ —your database(s). MySQL instructions: Actually, don’t backup the default /Applications/MAMP/db/mysql/mysql/ or /Applications/MAMP/db/mysql/test/ folders, which are usually updated. Only backup the other folders and files under /Applications/MAMP/db/mysql/ which are specific to your installation.
  4. Backup other folders you had added to /Applications/MAMP/, such as a Gallery 2 data folder.
  5. Replace /Applications/MAMP/ with the newer version.
  6. Replace the content and database folders with the ones you had saved in steps 2 through 4.
  7. Uninstall the previous MAMP Dashboard widget, then install the newer version (which is located in /Applications/MAMP/). Apply any widget fixes (see below).
  8. Restart the servers, again via the MAMP widget.

Ah, and the other problem: The “Open Start Page” in the MAMP widget doesn’t do anything. (The Start Page does open if I launch, oddly.) I found a helpful fix at, where you edit mampwidget.js (in the Mamp Control widget package contents) to correct a preference file reference. Using your favorite text editor, go to line 90:

var startPage = widget.system("/usr/bin/defaults read com.webEdition.MAMP

Change com.webEdition.MAMP to Start Dashboard, hit the Manage Widgets (+) button, remove the MAMP widget (tick its ‘x’ button), then re-add it from the Manage Widgets strip. Restart servers, and the Open Start Page button now works. Whew.

I hope the MAMP folks can fix these simple issues of documentation and the widget. It’s a shame their forums seem to be plagued with spam (at least the English ones), too, which makes finding answers a bit slow.

Update (6-Nov-2006): Thanks to Holger Meyer for answering my email about upgrading!

Update (22-Feb-2007): The latest 1.5-beta1 still has the Start Page bug with the Dashboard widget. Gallery 2 and some of the WordPress plugins no longer seem to work. 🙁

Update (8-May-2007): MAMP 1.6 came out, and still has the Start Page bug with the Dashboard widget. The download now includes both the free and Pro versions of MAMP. Gallery 2 stoutly refused to run (blank page issue), but the workaround was easy: In the php.ini configuration file, increase memory_limit from 8MB to 16MB. While Gallery will run when given 12MB, the WPG2 plugin won’t work (no random image in Sidebar), unless memory_limit is set to at least 16MB.

Update (17-July-2007): Was noodling around the MAMP website and noticed that version 1.6.1 was released on 11 April 2007. Likely a typo in the date, since the files have a timestamp of 15 May 2007. The widget bug seems to be fixed at least (enfin!). The packages listed on the releases page are the same between 1.6 and 1.6.1. It’s a shame, though, that MAMP hasn’t had a more recent, thorough update to include the latest Apache, MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin bits (compare with the newer packages in XAMPP for OS X, a less mature OS X server bundle). You’d think they’d do that to keep the paid MAMP Pro version up to date.


  1. Kojilab wrote:

    How did you change the memory_limit? I’ve been trying many times but it seems it’s overriding my changes back to 8M when I launch the server.
    I change it unded /MAMP/conf/php5/ but it doesn’t care and still uses /Library/Application Support/living-e/MAMP PRO/conf/php.ini and even updates it.
    Thanks for your insight.

    Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Kojilab wrote:

    I found out. I had to edit the template and not the php.ini file directly.

    Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  3. sairuh wrote:

    Hm, interestingly I was able to edit /Applications/MAMP/conf/php5/php.ini. I wonder if the difference is that I’m using the free version of MAMP, and that the MAMP Pro version (if that’s what you’re using) behaves differently. The file /Library/Application Support/living-e/MAMP PRO/conf/php.ini doesn’t exist for me.

    Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  4. peter wrote:

    when i make changes to
    it doesn’t reflect on phpinfo(),
    it is somehow getting over written somewhere else.
    please help if you know what’s wrong.
    i’m using the free version of MAMP


    Sunday, 7 October 2007 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  5. sairuh wrote:

    Peter, it works for me, at least when viewing phpInfo from the MAMP Start Page. However, I’m still on v1.6.1; haven’t upgraded to 1.7 yet. The MAMP forum might have more info (though still spammy these days, alas).

    Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  6. Chuyen wrote:

    Hi Kojilab,
    Can you tell me how did you do to change the parameters in PHP.ini file?

    Thank you so much!

    Sunday, 1 March 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  7. scoober wrote:

    In Mamp Pro — the controls are under ‘file’, ‘edit template’

    Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  8. A.D. wrote:

    SCOOBER – thanks a lot!

    Friday, 10 July 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink

Submit a comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked with a red diamond, .