Setting PHP7 Development on mac osx

Recently there have been a lot of changes to Homebrew in that there have been a number of packages renamed and improved. One of the packages that have been affected it PHP.

Specifically renaming the php71 to php@7.1, this has caused some confusion amongst the community on how to install PHP on Mac OSX and to enable xdebug.

In this post we will walk through the process of cleaning up a current installation of PHP on Mac OSX using Homebrew and enabling xdebug

If you have previously installed PHP on your Mac OSX using Homebrew you may want to take this opportunity to clean up your installation and reconfigure your machine with the latest packages.

Clean up old installs of PHP

We will use HomeBrew to install PHP 7.2 using the new Taps available. We will go ahead and uninstall all versions of PHP to ensure we only will have PHP installed via Homebrew.

First lets examine what PHP packages have been installed


We can now uninstall any packages that have been installed


Ensure we remove any old casks in Homebrew


Clean up all the launch agents to ensure there is no confusion later on.


We can now ensure Homebrew is cleaned up and updated


Check to see if there are any daemons running. If there are then reboot


Install PHP using Homebrew


By default this will install PHP 7.2.x (or whatever the latest edition of PHP is when you install it)

You will now be able to write and run applications using PHP. However, if you would like to be able to debug your PHP applications there are some additional steps you need to complete to install xdebug.

What is xdebug ?

Xdebug is an extension for PHP to assist with debugging and development. It contains a single step debugger to use with IDEs; it upgrades PHP’s var_dump() function; it adds stack traces for Notices, Warnings, Errors and Exceptions; it features functionality for recording every function call and variable assignment to disk; it contains a profiler; and it provides code coverage functionality for use with PHPUnit.

Prior to moving the PHP taps in Homebrew it used to be possible to install xdebug and PHP7.2 at the same time using brew install php72-xdebug, sadly this is not the case, and from what I understand this won’t be happening anytime soon.

PECL (PHP Extension Community Library) is now the source of xdebug and all future updates will available via PECL

How to install xdebug on Mac OSX

Installing xdebug via PECL is fairly straight forward, because if you have PHP7.2 installed you should be able to update your channel list first


This will check whether you already have xdebug installed


If xdebug is not install you can simply install it using


if you want to upgrade xdebug to the latest version  simply


Configure PHP to use xdebug

We need to add the following line to .


To find out where your php.ini file is


Which should return something similar too:


Configure PHP.ini

You can open the file using


The search for the


Then change it too


The additionally update the following


Configure PHPStorm

We predominantly use PHPStorm – Lightning-smart PHP IDE as our default PHP Development editor.
So it is worhtwhile ensuring you have enabled xdebug in PHP storm as your debugger – Xdebug Installation Guide


You should now have a complete PHP Development Environment configured on your Macbook.

Gary Woodfine

Technical Director at Denizon
Gary is Technical Director at Denizon, an independent software vendor specialising in IoT, Field Service and associated managed services,enabling customers to be efficient, productive, secure and scalable in a way which helps them address and reduce their ecological impact.

Denizon's product line successfully integrate IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology to enable efficient, productive, secure and scalable solutions to help organisations address increasing energy demands, ecological impact and Health & Safety concerns of their staff.

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