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VirtualHostX Getting Started Guide

Last Updated March 23, 2019

VirtualHostX is an easy-to-use local web server environment that you can install on your Mac. With just a few clicks, you can run multiple copies of WordPress, Drupal, or any other PHP or JavaScript based app.

Getting started is easy. You can download the latest version from here. Unzip the app and move it into your Mac's /Applications folder.

The first time you launch VirtualHostX, you'll be greeted with the Welcome Screen as shown here:

VirtualHostX Welcome Screen

Follow the three steps to install the software.

Clicking the "arrow" button next to "Step 1" will download and begin the installation process of VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free application that allows you to run "virtual machines" inside your Mac. A virtual machine is totally separate computer running inside your real computer.

After VirtualBox finishes installing, return to the Welcome Screen and click the next arrow button to begin Step 2. This will download an install Vagrant. Vagrant is a free application that makes creating and configuring virtual machines easy.

Once the Vagrant installation comples, return to the Welcome Screen and run Step 3. This will begin downloading and creating your virtual machine. This step may take a few minutes and only needs to be done once.

During this step, VirtualHostX will automatically download and install a real Ubuntu Linux operating system inside your Mac in its own virtual machine. Ubuntu is the same type of operating system used on millions of web servers around the world. It's an ideal choice to run on your Mac because you can be certain that that websites you test locally with it on your Mac will work and behave the same way when you upload them to your real web server for the world to see.

After you've completed all the steps on the Welcome Screen, the main VirtualHostX window will appear as shown below:

VirtualHostX Main Window

Like many typical Mac apps, the VirtualHostX Main Window has two primary areas. On the left side is the sidebar, which contains a list of the websites you create. Clicking on a website will select it and display its details on the right side of the window.

Let's create your first website.

  1. Click the "New Website" button in the toolbar.
  2. Fill in a name in the "Domain Name" textfield. This should just be a simple word or name to identify your new website with. It will become part of the URL you use to view your website in a later step. An example name you could choose might be wordpress or client1 or drupal. You can choose whatever makes sense to you.
  3. Next, click the "Choose..." button next to the "Local Path" textfield. This will allow you to choose a folder on your Mac. Pick the folder where you want your website's files to be located. This can be an existing folder, or you can create a new one.
  4. Click the "Apply Changes" toolbar button. This will save your new website's settings to the web server and restart the virtual machine. After it finishes restarting, you will be able to visit your new website using the web address displayed in the "Local URL" textfield.

Here is a screenshot of VirtualHostX with an example website setup:

VirtualHostX Main Window with Example Website

In that screenshot, you can see that we have created a new website called "example". VirtualHostX tells us that we can view it in our web browser with the URL http://example.vhx.cloud:8080. You can either copy-and-paste that URL into your web browser, or the app can automatically open a web browser for you by double-clicking the website in the Sidebar or by clicking on the "Local URL" text in the Main Window.

That's it. You're done! You've successfully setup and created your first local website with VirtualHostX. You can create as many websites as you like - each one with a different domain name pointing to any folder on your Mac.

A few extra notes for the curious...

  • You rarely, if ever, need to change or modify your website's "Web Root" textfield setting. It should almost always be left blank. More information is available here.
  • The "LAN URL" address VirtualHostX provides is a special web address you can use to view your website from another computer or mobile device on the same local network (wifi) as your Mac. You can also use our free iOS app to easily view your VirtualHostX websites from your mobile device.
  • The "Public URL" address connects to a free service called ngrok that lets you share your local website with anyone else in the world. Click the "Connect" button to generate a shareable URL you can give to a friend or coworker to let them view your website.
  • If you want to get rid of the ugly ":8080" that's appended on to your website's URL, you can do so by instructing VirtualHostX to run its web server on port 80. Just choose the "Bind to Ports 80 and 443" item under the "Web Server" menu to make the change.

More resources...

For more help...

We take great pride in our customer service. We're always happy to hear from you and help in any way we can. You can contact us via email at help@clickontyler.com or by phone/SMS at +1 615-307-7008. You can also submit questions, feature requests, and bug reports directly to us from within VirtualHostX using the "Help" menu.