What Is the Web Server on Mac?


Heather Bennett

What Is the Web Server on Mac?

When it comes to hosting websites or creating web applications, having a reliable web server is essential. Fortunately, if you’re using a Mac computer, you already have a built-in web server at your disposal. In this article, we’ll delve into what the web server on Mac is and how you can use it to serve your web content.

Understanding the Web Server

A web server is a software application that runs on a computer and serves website files to visitors over the internet. It handles incoming requests for web pages, files, or other resources and sends back the requested data to the user’s browser. In simpler terms, it’s like a middleman between your website and its visitors.

On Mac computers, the native web server software is called Apache. Apache is one of the most widely used web servers in the world due to its stability, security features, and extensibility.

Enabling the Web Server

To start using the web server on your Mac, you need to first enable it. Here’s how:

  1. Open System Preferences: Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences. “
  2. Select Sharing: In System Preferences, find and click on “Sharing.

  3. Enable Web Sharing: In the list of services on the left-hand side, check the box next to “Web Sharing.” This will activate your Mac’s built-in Apache web server.

Your Mac’s web server is now up and running!

Serving Your Website Content

To serve your website content using Apache on Mac, you need to place your files in a specific directory called the “DocumentRoot.” By default, the DocumentRoot is set to “/Library/WebServer/Documents/”. Any files or folders you put inside this directory will be accessible through your web server.

Here’s how to serve your website content:

  1. Access the DocumentRoot: Open Finder and navigate to “/Library/WebServer/Documents/”.
  2. Add Your Files: Copy your website files or create a new folder for your website inside the Documents folder.
  3. Access Your Website: Open a web browser and enter “http://localhost” or “http://127.0.1” in the address bar. You should see your website’s homepage if everything is set up correctly.

Customizing Apache Configuration

If you want to customize Apache’s configuration on your Mac, you can do so by editing the “httpd.conf” file located at “/etc/apache2/httpd.conf”. This file contains various settings that control how Apache behaves and serves your web content.


  • The “httpd.conf” file is a crucial component of Apache, so make sure to create a backup before making any changes.
  • You may need administrator privileges to modify the file.

Restarting Apache

If you make any changes to the “httpd.conf” file or other Apache configuration files, you’ll need to restart Apache for the changes to take effect. You can do this by running the following command in Terminal:

$ sudo apachectl restart

Note: You’ll need administrator privileges to restart Apache.


The built-in web server on Mac, powered by Apache, provides a convenient way to host your websites or test web applications locally. By enabling the web server and placing your files in the DocumentRoot, you can serve your web content and access it through your browser. Remember to exercise caution when customizing Apache’s configuration and always keep backups of important files.

Now that you have a good grasp of what the web server on Mac is and how to use it, you’re ready to start creating and hosting your own websites!

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