VirtualHostX: Easy Virtual Hosting configuration on OS X

Having discovered VirtualHostX, I can’t imagine going down the path of manually editing OS X configuration files ever again. If you have ever setup a local environment to test your website(s), you have surely found yourself spending a few minutes wrestling with Web Sharing and Apache – the whole virtual hosting setup. Instead of testing sites where your local URL looks something like:


You can organize server files and test sites on your computer using URLs like:, http://this.isatest.local,

So if this is your first experiment setting up virtual hosts, download a trial of VirtualHostX ($9) or win 1 of 3 free licenses (details below).

Easy virtual hosts configuration with VirtualHostX

VirtualHostX is the easiest way to develop sites locally without manual server configuration.

  • Automatically configures your Mac’s web server settings
  • Supports custom Apache directives
  • Backup / Restore your web server settings
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard

VirtualHostX Screen

Simply put, VirtualHostX is a GUI alternative to manually editing your "hosts" and "httpd-vhosts.conf" files without needing to fire up the Terminal.

Enter password

Once you have decided on a URL and pointed VirtualHostX to the directory where your site files are stored, the app requests your password in order to restart Apache and you are ready for development.

Win 1 of 3 free VirtualHostX licenses

I encourage you to download a trial version. In the meantime, I’m giving away 3 free licenses compliments of Tyler H. for readers. So how can you win a free license?

What two pieces of software would you need [without a doubt] in order to efficiently get work done on a daily basis? Share your two pieces of software and reasons why. Three comments will be picked at random to receive a free VirtualHostX license.

If you don’t win a complimentary license, the $9 registration fee is well worth the convenience and time saved setting up new virtual hosts.

Discuss - 19 Comments

  1. Alli Price says:

    Nice post, why not use MAMP, of which there is a free version?

    • Derek says:

      I believe MAMP still sets up sites as localhost:8080 or whatever you specify. VirtualHostX would still come in handy.

  2. Jesse says:

    Without a doubt, TextMate and Photoshop.

    And having just tried out VirtualHostX w/ MAMP, those are way up there too!

  3. Eric DeLabar says:

    I absolutely need Coda and iTunes, Coda is by far the easiest way to support tons of sites and iTunes lets me disappear into my own little world of no distractions.

  4. VirtualHostX looks like a great piece of software, I’m bummed that I haven’t heard of it before!

    When it comes to efficiently getting things done, I’d be lost without OmniFocus and TextMate. I have become completely dependent on OmniFocus and I can strongly say that it’s because of the integrated Clippings feature. No matter where I am, I can simply highlight a block of text, hit a quick key command, and have that text stored in my Inbox for filtering later. If it’s an email, a link is automatically included to the message, and if the Clipping has other links, they’re included too. It has allowed me to effectively prevent forgetting to take care of something, and I’ve finally integrated the habit of Clipping items the moment I read them.

    Without a doubt, TextMate saves me time when it comes to work work. The editor thinks like I think, it indents like I indent, and without snippets I’d be lost. Recently a number of other promising editors have been released, but nothing comes close to the overall polish and finesse of TextMate’s editing engine.

    Thanks for the tip on VirtualHostX, Derek!

  5. #1 is definitely TextMate–ever since switching to it, I have no idea how I could ever live without it.

    #2 is a little tougher, though I think I’ll pick Firebug, because it is so indispensable when writing CSS and JS.

  6. el-flojo says:

    Well as for me, I couldn’t get along without Skitch and BBEdit.

  7. Amy says:

    There are three! InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Not only do I need them to get work done efficiently 24/7, I need them to get work done period.

    Lucky for me they’re wonderful products!

    Thanks, Derek and Tyler, for this great offer. I’ve been getting into a touch (a *touch*, mind you) of web stuff lately. I assume that with VirtualHostX and MAMP I won’t be testing things on the real server anymore and crossing my fingers hoping no one looks? Oi, such a newbie.

  8. Rob Cameron says:

    If you’re a fan of Ruby, there’s a neat package called “serve” that lets you quickly spawn a webserver that serves up any directory. You choose the port it runs on, so if you want to have 4 sites running, just give them different ports and you’ll access them through localhost.

    No need for Apache or any web server config files. It’s literally one word at the command line:


    Then browse to http://localhost:4000 Looks like a standard Apache directory list:

    (Anyone who needs help installing Ruby, reply and I’ll write up a quick tutorial.)

  9. The two applications that I rely on are Fireworks and Textmate. I still struggle with Photoshop, and I feel I can get around Fireworks so much more easily. It also helps that it has great export functionality for the web. Textmate has so much great functionality and customization capability, which is great because I hand-code everything.

  10. Rob Abbott says:

    Thanks Derek for this recommendation. I’ll definitely use it.

    My two most important applications that I use daily are…

    Versions – amazing subversion control, and beautiful UI and visuals. A great experience all around on OS X and worth every penny ($52.00). It is undoubtedly a crucial part of my teams development process.

    TextMate (already mentioned) – supports EVERY development language schema. It’s the standard for development on OS X outside of command-line. All of the features, especially customization make it invaluable ($52.00).

    This combination streamlines my daily process.

    Honorable mentions – Google Apps (hosted mail, docs, calendar), iTunes (MUSIC!), Safari 4 (debugger), and Photoshop CS4

  11. Mark Nichols says:

    Without a doubt the two pieces of software I can’t get through the day without out are TextMate and Adium. I make heavy use of many other programs, but those two are the first to be installed on any new machine, and are always running.

  12. d forbes says:

    That looks very interesting. I think I could make good use of it – just from the time savings alone.

  13. David Sutoyo says:

    For me it’s TextMate and git. I suppose there’s no need to rehash the reasons why TextMate is useful.

    I was suspicious of git at first because I didn’t feel there was a need to go beyond subversion, but the more I use it, the more I like it better than svn. Managing files and branching in git is really easy. Plus, GitHub is quite an interesting code-sharing experience.

    VirtualHostX sounds like it will quickly move up on my list.

  14. Git and Colloquy are most needed for me. Git keeps track of my code and Colloquy lets me talk with my coworkers help me fix my code. 🙂

    And VirtualHostX would be terribly handy for testing my code.

  15. […] VirtualHostX is the easiest way to setup proper local URL’s for test sites on OS X. Three licenses were available for readers compliments of Tyler H. The giveaway recipients were chosen randomly from the ordered list of comments. The winners and their most used apps for work are: […]

  16. Alan Holding says:

    Thanks for this. Looks like a replacement for the (apparently) defunct Headdress.

    • Derek says:

      My thoughts exactly. When I configured a new machine for development, one of the first apps I wanted to install was Headdress. When I realized the utility was gone I was left doing things manually via the Terminal until I discovered VirtualHostX.

  17. Gerome says:

    Komodo Edit, hands down the best IDE application on earth, IMO. I tried TextMate, just doesn’t compare when it comes to auto-completion, hot key code snippets, etc.

    Still, I’m waiting for the perfect IDE, one that seamlessly auto-completes PHP, JS, CSS, and HTML.

    One day it will come…