Experimenting on the theme, layout and widgets on a live WordPress blog is never a great idea as there is always the risk of not being able to roll back to your previous layout and widget configuration.  A lower risk way to experiment is to host and run a copy of your WordPress blog locally on your Mac, this way you can hack away with zero risk to your live blog.  The XAMPP bundle makes this very easy to setup:
  1. Download XAMPP for Mac OS X from http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html.
  2. Open the xampp dmg file and copy xampp into the applications folder.
  3. Run the xampp control app and start apache & mysql.
  4. Using your browser, go to http://localhost/xampp/splash.php
  5. Select your language then click phpMyAdmin.
  6. Create a database called ‘wordpress’ using ‘utf8_unicode_ci’ collation.
  7. Download WordPress from http://wordpress.org/download/.
  8. Unzip WordPress into /Applications/XAMPP/htdocs/.
  9. Copy the following details into your wp-config file, and save it as wp-config.php These are the exact details you need for Xampp to work because the default user in phpmyadmin is called ‘root’ and there is no password:
    1. DB_NAME is ‘wordpress’.
    2. DB_USER is ‘root’.
    3. DB_PASSWORD is ”.
    4. DB_HOST is ‘localhost’.
  10. In your browser, go to http://localhost/wordpress/wp-admin/install.php to install WordPress.
  11. Once WordPress installation is complete go to http://localhost/wordpress/ to verify the installation.
  12. To get automatic updates of WordPress and installation/updates of plugins and widgets working do the following:
    1. Make a note of your username e.g. ‘Daniel’.
    2. Open /Applications/XAMPP/etc/httpd.conf as root/admin e.g. “sudo open -e ‘/Applications/XAMPP/etc/httpd.conf'” from terminal.
    3. Find the following lines:
      User nobody
      Group admin
    4. Change the lines to the following:
      User <Your Username>
      Group staf f
    5. Save the file.  Some people are having issues with TextEdit preventing edits to the file due to file ownership, there are two possible work arounds:
      1. Use another text editor like vi to make the required edits the file: “sudo vi ‘/Applications/XAMPP/etc/httpd.conf'”.
      2. Use the chown command to change the file’s ownership: “sudo chown <Your Username> ‘/Applications/XAMPP/etc/httpd.conf'”.
  13. Restart XAMPP and visit http://localhost/wordpress/ you should now have a fully functional WordPress installation you can experiment on without effecting your live blog.

The next step is to mimic the configuration of the live blog on the test blog by:

  1. Importing the posts and comments from the live blog.
  2. Installing the same theme, widgets and plugins.
  3. Configuring the theme, widgets and plugins.

You can now start hacking away on your test blog without worrying about breaking your live site!