I’ve been working with WordPress a lot more lately, and I wanted a way to run it on OS X with as few dependencies as possible. Thanks to WP-CLI and PHP’s built in web server this is now easier than ever before.


MySQL is required and not installed on OS X. I used MariaDB, but MySQL works too. Installation via Homebrew is a snap:

brew install mariadb

MariaDB ships with a setting NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER that prevents you from creating a user without a password. I don’t like bothering with passwords for development, so I disabled that feature by adding the following to ~/.my.cnf:

Note: This could be a security risk if you are on a shared machine or you allow outside traffic through your router/firewall. Understand the risks involved before changing this.


By default MariaDB sets two sql_mode settings, NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION and NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER. This sets it to use just NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION.

With MySQL configured, start the server:

mysql.server start


OS X El Capitan ships with PHP 5.5.29. This is sufficient to run WordPress, but we need to configure PHP to use Homebrew’s MySQL. Create or edit /etc/php.ini to configure PHP to use MySQL:

sudo cp -n /etc/php.ini.default /etc/php.ini
sudo sed -i '.bak' 's,default_socket[[:space:]]*=$,default_socket = /tmp/mysql.sock,' /etc/php.ini

To verify the setting is correct:

php -r "echo ini_get('mysql.default_socket');"

You should see /tmp/mysql.sock.

There may be some other settings to tweak to improve performance, but so far this seems to work well for my testing purposes.


WP-CLI is a great utility that allows you to manage WordPress from the command line.

There is a WP-CLI Homebrew Formula, but it includes a dependency on Composer that I don’t need. Installing it is just a matter of downloading a file and adding it to PATH:

curl -o /usr/local/bin/wp https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wp-cli/builds/gh-pages/phar/wp-cli.phar
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/wp
wp --info

If you see output like WP-CLI version:version0.21.1, the installation was successful.

WordPress Setup

First download the latest WordPress:

mkdir -p wordpress/public
cd wordpress/public
wp core download

Next, create wp-cli.yml with some settings for WP-CLI (replace usernames, etc as needed):

cd wordpress
cat <<YAML > wp-cli.yml
path: "public"

  docroot: public
  port: 9000

core config:
  dbname: wpplayground
  dbuser: root
  dbhost: localhost
  extra-php: |
    define('WP_HOME',    'http://localhost:9000');
    define('WP_SITEURL', 'http://localhost:9000');

core install:
  admin_user: josh
  admin_password: passw0rd
  admin_email: jpriddle@me.com
  url: http://localhost:9000
  title: "WordPress Playground"

Next, generate wp-config.php using the settings added to wp-cli.yml:

wp core config

Create the database:

wp db create

Finally, install WordPress:

wp core install

Using WordPress

WP-CLI includes support for PHP’s built in web server, and this will be used to serve WordPress. To start it:

wp server

And then open http://localhost:9000/ in your browser. When done working with WordPress, just press ctrl-c to kill the web server.

I hope this helps someone else. WP-CLI and PHP’s built in web server make this a much less obtrusive setup than it has been in the past.