Local installations of WordPress are an excellent way to test changes to your site before taking them live, and MAMP is one of the best ways to set one up. However, that can be tough when Apache, one of the key components of MAMP, refuses to start.

There are several reasons your Apache server might fail to run. Something could be blocking the port it uses; there could be another instance of Apache already running; or there might be an incompatibility with the version of PHP you’re using in MAMP.

Fortunately, these issues are all fairly simple to troubleshoot and fix.

In this article, we’ll explain some of the possible causes of the MAMP Apache server not starting error, and walk through how to fix each one. Let’s get started!

Causes of the Apache Server Not Starting in MAMP Error

Before we dive into the causes of this error, let’s cover some basics. A MAMP installation is actually a bundle of several software components that work together: the Apache web server, the MySQL database software, and the PHP programming language.

Each of these components is vital to the operation of your local installation. If one is missing or encounters an error, you won’t be able to access or work with your WordPress testing environment.

When you open the MAMPapp on your computer, the Apache server and MySQL should start up automatically, bringing your local site “online” and enabling you to access it. However, you may find that sometimes the Apache server fails to start, which is likely why you’re here.

You may sometimes see a popup containing the error message “Apache couldn’t be started. Please check your MAMP installation and configuration.” However, often you won’t see an error message at all — instead, the dot next to Apache Server in the MAMP window won’t turn green:

The Apache Server light in the MAMP window won't turn green if it fails to start.

The Apache Server light in the MAMP window won’t turn green if it fails to start.

There are several possible causes for the MAMP Apache server not starting error:

  • Something is blocking the port used by the Apache server. Skype is a frequent culprit.
  • Another instance of Apache is already running on your computer.
  • There’s an incompatibility between the versions of Apache and PHP being used.

Fortunately, these problems are all relatively easy to troubleshoot and fix. In the next section, we’ll dive into exactly how to do that.

Now that you know what the problem is, you can start troubleshooting. There are four different fixes that may resolve the “Apache server not starting” error in MAMP. We recommend trying each in order, and only moving on to the next one if the issue persists.

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Step 1: Ensure That Skype Is Not Running

The communications app Skype has a tendency to occupy the port that Apache uses on the network, preventing it from starting.

Fixing this is incredibly simple – just close Skype and restart MAMP.

If conflicts continue to arise and you need both MAMP and Skype running at the same time, you can change the port used by Apache. To do this, navigate to MAMP > Preferences in the MAMP application menu:

You can change the port used by Apache to avoid conflicts with Skype and other applications.

You can change the port used by Apache to avoid conflicts with Skype and other applications.

Click on Ports at the top of the Preferences window, enter a new port for Apache, and click on OK to save the change. Port 8080 is a commonly used option to avoid conflicts, but you can add whatever value you want here.

Step 2: Make Sure No Other Instances of Apache Are Running

If you don’t use Skype, or the above fix didn’t resolve the problem, the next thing to check is that no other instances of Apache are already running. This is a common reason why the MAMP Apache server won’t start. First, close MAMP on your computer. Next, you’ll need to pull up your computer’s Task Manager (Activity Monitor on Mac devices).

To open the Task Manager in Windows, you can either press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select Task Manager from the menu, or open the Start menu and search for “Task Manager”. On a Mac, you can open the Activity Monitor from inside the Applications menu.

Once it’s opened, head to the Processes tab in the Task Manager in Windows, or the CPU tab on a Mac:

Search for instances of "httpd" or "Apache" in the Task Manager to find other Apache servers that may be blocking MAMP.

Search for instances of “httpd” or “Apache” in the Task Manager to find other Apache servers that may be blocking MAMP.

Look for “httpd” or “Apache” in the list of processes. If you’re on a Mac, you can use the search field in the top right to make this easier, but in Windows you’ll have to search manually. Fortunately, the processes are listed in alphabetical order.

Quit every “httpd” or “Apache” process you find by right-clicking on it and selecting End task. Then restart MAMP to see if the problem is resolved.

Step 3: Stop Apache From the Command Line

If the previous step didn’t work, you can attempt to stop all instances of Apache on your computer globally using the command line. In Windows, open the PowerShell application by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting it from the menu. On a Mac, open the Terminal application in ~/Utilities/Terminal.

Then enter the following command:

apache -k shutdown

Once you’ve typed it in, press Enter or Return to run the command. Then try restarting the MAMP application to see if it’s working.

Step 4: Change the PHP Version in Your MAMP Preferences

Finally, if none of the above solutions has worked, the problem may be an incompatibility between the Apache and PHP versions being used. To fix this, you can change the PHP version MAMP uses.

From the MAMP window, navigate to MAMP > Preferences, and then click on the PHP tab at the top of the screen:

You can try changing the PHP version used in MAMP to resolve issues with the Apache server not starting.

You can try changing the PHP version used in MAMP to resolve issues with the Apache server not starting.

Click on the dropdown menu next to “Standard Version”, and select a different version number from the list. There may only be two choices, but if there are more, you can try them individually until one works. We recommend starting with the most recent version and working backwards.

When you’re done, click on OK to save your changes. Then restart MAMP to make sure the problem has been resolved.

Summary

Testing your site on a local MAMP installation is a smart idea, and it can help you iron out any problems before the content is pushed live. However, when something goes wrong with that local setup, it can be frustrating.

If you find that the MAMP Apache server won’t start, try these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Ensure that Skype isn’t running, as it can interfere with the Apache server.
  2. Verify that no other instances of Apache are running in the background.
  3. Stop all Apache instances using the command line.
  4. Change the PHP version used by MAMP.

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