Your Mac has a lot more going on in the background than you know. Underneath all that eye candy and ease of use, the Mac is a Unix powerhouse with many of the tools and apps that high powered servers use.
In fact, it’s rather easy to turn your Mac into a full-fledged web server. The popular Apache web server app is built-in. Dropping in a MySQL database is free and simple and matches nicely with OS X’s built-in PHP scripting language.
Your Mac can be a web page server. Web page designers and developers use the Mac to simulate a remote server. One way to do that is to edit the Mac’s hosts file. That way, you can use a Mac browser and point it to any domain name, yet serve up the web pages right on your Mac.
There are three basic tools that many Mac web developers use to manage the hosts file.
At the low end of the scale is Horst, which gives you a simple, graphical interface to edit the hosts file so your browser displays a domain name from your Mac.
More expensive, but with more options is VirtualHostX. This very useful apps gives you options for multiple domains, and a local file path for each, and includes a custom directives option (for more advanced web servers).
VirtualHostX automatically configures the web server settings on your Mac, and works with the built-in Apache web server in OS X, and with MAMP.
For a few dollars more, MAMP Pro brings you a segregated web development environment, including built-in Apache web server, MySQL database, and PHP scripting language (as well as other apps and tools).
These tools make it relatively simple to turn your Mac into a full on web server, complete with all the standard web apps you need for development or serving.