One of the first things I tell my students when learning to use WordPress is to install it in their computer! Over the years I’ve tested several different local servers, even paid premium prices for one but it all changed when I found Local by Flywheel.
Apart from the fact that it’s super easy to install and to create your first site there are several reasons why I enjoy this software so much.
- You can make as many sites as you want
- You can backup the sites with the export feature
- You can connect directly to Flywheel hosting or WP Engine
- You can create blueprints to save time with starter sites
Where to get Local
You can get Local at https://localwp.com/ it’s completely free now and you can play with all of the add ons. I haven’t tested them but they have an Image optimizer which sounds like will help with image compression (I do it by hand – read this tutorial), and Live links and Link Checker among many more.
What Local looks like
Local comes with a small unobtrusive screen that gives you the information on your sites. From this screen you can start your sites, open them, stop them all and you can even mark some sites as your favorites.
You can sort your sites by name or by when they were recently started.
The One-click Admin feature
Local recently came up with this amazing feature where you can choose the user you want to log in with and when you click the Admin button the site will log you in automatically. I don’t know how this works with sites with a lot of users but for my sites its absolutely perfect.
What you can do with the right-click
When you right click over one of your sites in Local you open up a menu that has many options. From there you can: View the site, go to the admin, reveal files in the Finder, Open the shell, Start and Stop the site, clone the site, export it, save as blueprint, change the domain, rename the site and delete it altogether. I’ll talk a little bit about some of my favorites from this list.
Reveal in Finder
The reveal in finder option takes you directly to where your site files are stored. That way you can add plugins and themes directly to the site or create your own theme files there. I like how quickly you can get to this directory (otherwise you’d have to dig through your computer to find these files).
Open site shell
I don’t work with WP-CLI yet but this opens up your terminal exactly where you would go to run those commands. Finding and connecting to that shell in your web hosting server might prove a bit daunting though.
I like to make backups of the sites I work with, but I use WPVivid for that. These backups help you move your project from computer to computer or if you are going to bring in your live site to the computer you can keep that backup in case you need it.
I won’t bore you with my lecture on backups, but sometimes you need to find content in them!
Save as Blueprint
Another favorite feature. If you have a routine you follow each time you start a site, with a sequence of installing themes and plugins that you do every single time, this is the feature for you! You can create a starter blueprint once you have your site setup exactly as you want it (you might install the theme, the child theme, plugins like Yoast and Duplicate page, Smush, etc.) then when creating a new site you just pull up that blueprint and Local will create your site with exactly the themes and plugins and settings you need to start with.
I really love this software and use every week to create my sites both personal and for clients. The runner up is Desktop Server and I liked it because it had a feature where you could deploy the site directly to the server but it only works with certain web hosts (Works well with Dreamhost).
So don’t worry about having a domain and hosting for your site in order to learn WordPress, just install Local and start playing with WordPress!