How to Set Up SSL with OSX Mountain Lion’s Built-In Apache

There are many tutorials out there, but for whatever reason I couldn’t get it work after a first pass. After a little help from some Twitter friends (thanks @ryandonsullivan & @andygambles!), I was able to pull together all the necessary pieces (read: remove gremlins from my setup including but not limited to typos) and get it working.

This will be very thorough, and (I hope) won’t take any knowledge for granted.



  1. Finder App -> Go -> Go to Folder (cmd-shift-g) -> type:

    -> hit enter.

  2. New folder (cmd-shift-n) (OSX may ask for your admin password) -> name the folder ‘ssl‘ -> hit enter
  3. Create a backup of the ‘httpd.conf‘ file in that folder.
  4. Open the ‘httpd.conf‘ file (in the apache2 folder that you’re in) in a text editor. (next several steps taken from here)
    1. Make sure the SSL module is enabled if it’s not. Do this by uncommenting (aka, remove the ‘#’ symbol in front) the line that looks like:
      LoadModule ssl_module libexec/apache2/
    2. In the same file search for and uncomment (remove the #) this line:
      Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-ssl.conf
    3. Save the file. (OSX may ask for your admin password)
  5. Create a backup of the ‘httpd-ssl.conf‘ file (in the ‘apache2/extra‘ folder).
  6. Now open the ‘httpd-ssl.conf‘ file in your text editor.
    1. Update the ‘DocumentRoot‘ line with where your site’s root folder. In my case I put the path to my WordPress installation I needed to test. Something like:
      DocumentRoot /Users/YOURUSERNAME/Sites/WordPress
    2. Make sure ‘ServerName‘ line looks like:
      ServerName localhost
    3. modify ‘ServerAdmin‘ line to use one of your email addresses. (I doubt this is necessary)
    4. Take note of the line ‘ErrorLog‘. You can use the location listed there to “Go to folder” in finder and view the log if things don’t work. Or worse-case scenario, you can provide it’s output to someone smart who might be able to help. 🙂
    5. Edit ‘SSLCertificateFile‘ line to point to your new ssl folder and the ssl certificate file (don’t worry, we’ll be creating that shortly). That line should look like:
      SSLCertificateFile "/private/etc/apache2/ssl/ssl.crt"
    6. Do the same with the ‘SSLCertificateKeyFile‘ line:
      SSLCertificateKeyFile "/private/etc/apache2/ssl/ssl.key"
    7. In the same file comment out (add a # to the beginning of the line) the ‘SSLCACertificatePath‘ and ‘SSLCARevocationPath‘ lines if they’re not already.
    8. Save the file. (OSX may ask for your admin password)
  7. Open Terminal app -> Read below caveats, then follow instructions here
    1. Each step has a singular line of dark bold text.. that is text you will paste into terminal and hit enter (copy the text exactly, not including white space or line breaks). The blue text below is an example of what terminal will output. (After pasting the line from step 2, terminal will walk you through the certificate’s necessary info. Whatever you put should be fine.. just hit enter after answering)
    2. On step 5, replace ‘/usr/local/apache/conf/ssl.crt‘ with the path to the location of the new ‘ssl’ folder you created in finder: /private/etc/apache2. So this will look like:

      Do the same with the ssl.key line. Replace:




      If you haven’t noticed, these values need to line up exactly with the paths you put in the ‘httpd-ssl.conf‘ file.

    3. Skip step 6 (it’s already done), and step 7.
  8. At this point, you should be able to go to https://localhost and see it working. If you’re using a good browser, you’ll probably be warned about the authenticity of the certificate, but unless you have trust issues with yourself, you can ignore the errors. You’ll probably also notice other indications that you’re not using a known certificate, but again, you don’t need to worry about them.

    Chrome’s notification

*Note: from Using SSL for your local development, Beware that Apache only supports one SSL domain per IP. So you need to add further IP’s to your system, or use a module that allows multiple SSL VirtualHosts per IP. There is some further reading on this topic here.

*Another Note: According to Steph in the comments, “for the new OSX we have to uncomment LoadModule socache_shmcb_module modules/ in file httpd.conf”.


16 thoughts on “How to Set Up SSL with OSX Mountain Lion’s Built-In Apache

  1. This is THE best and THE best guide. Worked flawlessly and so so so simple to understand. Thanks sooo much for this 🙂

  2. Regular apache works but I get this error when trying to connect to the SSL site.

    AH00558: httpd: Could not reliably determine the server’s fully qualified domain name, using Brandons-MacBook-Pro.local. Set the ‘ServerName’ directive globally to suppress this message

  3. Hi, thank you for the time you took to write this guide, so far I’ve followed everything in it, but after everything it’s done, I’m still unable to connect into my https://localhost. I’m working on “El Capitan”, and already uncomment the line Steph mentioned; so far I’m receiving a “ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED”. I would really appreciate if someone could help me. I’m pretty much a beginner. Thanks in advance for your time to read this.

  4. I’ve just redo it once again and it’s finally working. I really appreciate all the efforts you people do to make this guides.

  5. Hi, Thank You for your simple and clear instructions!

    In my case after all steps I had to run in terminal:

    sudo apachectl restart

  6. Just a heads up–In httpd.conf, I had to enable

    LoadModule socache_shmcb_module libexec/apache2/
    LoadModule socache_dbm_module libexec/apache2/

  7. Question: I have to do this on a Mac running Snow Leopard (yeah, I know…but: Don’t fix a production machine if it ain’t broken…).

    Do you know if there is a lot of differences in how to do it compared to what you write in this guide? Or if you know of a Snow Leopard guide with the same quality as this one?

Have a comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

accessibilityadminaggregationanchorarrow-rightattach-iconbackupsblogbookmarksbuddypresscachingcalendarcaret-downcartunifiedcouponcrediblecredit-cardcustommigrationdesigndevecomfriendsgallerygoodgroupsgrowthhostingideasinternationalizationiphoneloyaltymailmaphealthmessagingArtboard 1migrationsmultiple-sourcesmultisitenewsnotificationsperformancephonepluginprofilesresearcharrowscalablescrapingsecuresecureseosharearrowarrowsourcestreamsupporttwitchunifiedupdatesvaultwebsitewordpress