Local WordPress dev with DesktopServer

Local WordPress development can be complicated, and choosing the right tools for the job can take some digging. If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can always opt for solutions such as XAMPP or MAMP, but adding or removing websites that way can get a bit messy.

That’s wheretools such as DesktopServer come into play. DesktopServer enables you to create local WordPress websites with ease, and it also keeps things simple when it comes to removing or duplicating those sites later on. Best of all, it’s easy to set up, so you can start using it in a matter of minutes.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to what DesktopServer can do, and explain how it compares to similar tools. Then we’ll show you how to set it up in three simple steps. Let’s get started!

Why you should consider using DesktopServer

local WordPress development with DesktopServer

DesktopServer is a quick and easy way to create and manage local WordPress sites.

Creating local WordPress websites is one of the best ways to test out new features on the platform. After all, you can tinker with a local site however you want without risking one of your live setups, and you can even use one to try out your homemade plugins and themes. But choosing the right tool is key if you want to make your local sites as useful as possible.

Unlike XAMPP or MAMP, DesktopServer is best described as a self-contained development environment. The former tools enable you to set up a ‘stack’ of development software on your computer, but you still need to create each site manually and set up databases for each one individually.

On the other hand, DesktopServer speeds up the process by taking care of that busywork for you. All you need to do is tweak a few settings and you’ll be good to go. In this respect, the software offers a very similar set of functionalities to Local by Flywheel, but it’s much more streamlined and easy to use.

Key Features of DesktopServer:

  • Supports various types of server setups
  • Enables users to map their local websites to specific domains
  • Creates, copies, and removes local WordPress websites
  • Supports up to three local sites
  • Available for Windows and MacOS


For this tutorial, we’ll focus on DesktopServer’s free version, which includes all the features mentioned above. There’s also a premium option with some additional functionality, such as the ability to export and archive your sites. However, we recommend you try the tool’s free version before getting your credit card out. Let’s take a look at it now!

How to set up DesktopServer (in three simple steps)

You don’t need to sign up for an account or log in to the site before downloading DesktopServer. Just head to the site’s Download page and follow the instructions below.

Step #1: Set up and configure DesktopServer

On the Download page, scroll down to the bottom and add the free version of the software to your cart.

Now you’ll need to complete the checkout process, which will ask you for a few personal details. Don’t worry – you won’t have to enter any payment information. Just make your way through the checkout, and you’ll receive an email containing links to the software when you’re done.

When you get the email, download the version of DesktopServer that corresponds to your operating system, install it as you would any other program, and run it. The first time you open DesktopServer on Windows, you’ll be prompted to grant it administrator privileges. Choose Yes – these privileges are required for the tool to work properly:

Granting administrator privileges to DesktopServer.

The tool will then restart itself, and you’ll be ready to set up your first local WordPress website.

Step #2: Create a local WordPress website

To get started with your first local WordPress development environment, run the program and choose Create a new development website on the first screen that pops up. Then, click on Next:

Creating a new local website.

After that, you’ll be able to pick a URL for your local site, choose which version of WordPress it will use, and specify a root directory. Keep in mind that the URL you pick won’t work if you try to access your website from another PC (hence the term ‘local website’):

Setting up a name and a path for your local website.

DesktopServer also enables you to create a website without setting up WordPress – there’s an option for that under the Blueprint menu. This can come in handy if you need to set up a testing environment for a different platform, or if you want to clone a WordPress website using a plugin.

For now, click on Next once more and wait for DesktopServer to set up your site. When it’s done, the program will let you know if the process was completed successfully:

DesktopServer in the middle of setting up your website.

Finally, you’ll be presented with a link to run the famous five-minute install for WordPress:

A link to install WordPress on your new site.

Please note that this last step is where you set up your administrator account, so don’t skip it! Go through the installation process and afterward, your site will be ready to go.

Step #3: Copy or delete your local WordPress sites as needed

Before wrapping things up, you should learn how to copy local sites for testing purposes and dispose of sites you don’t need anymore. Both of these features are available from the same screen where you chose the option to create a new site – just click on Remove, copy, or move an existing website instead and hit Next:

Removing or copying a local WordPress website.

Now, you’ll see a list of all the local sites you’ve previously set up. All you have to do is pick one, then choose whether to copy, delete, or move it to a new directory. Choosing remove will prompt you to confirm your decision and then let you know as soon as your local site is gone for good:

DesktopServer in the middle of removing a website.

If you decide to copy a website, on the other hand, you’ll need to choose a new URL and path for it. The program will do the rest for you. That’s it!


DesktopServer is one of the most reliable tools you can find for local WordPress development. It also happens to be refreshingly straightforward and stable – two qualities that can help you streamline your development efforts.

Here’s what you need to do to get your environment up and running using DesktopServer:

  1. Set up and configure DesktopServer.
  2. Create a local WordPress website.
  3. Copy or delete your local WordPress sites as needed.

Do you have any questions about how to get started with DesktopServer? Ask away in the comments section below!

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