Laravel Herd: Quick Laravel PHP Development Environment for MacOS

Good news for Laravel Developers who use MacOS for Laravel Development! Yes, just a few days back on the 19th of July, Laracon US Beyond Code introduced “Herd”, a free native macOS app. A one-click PHP development environment that will work on your MacOS without any dependencies. Let’s dig more about Laravel Herd.

What is Herd?

Herd is a free, native macOS application that provides a blazing-fast development environment for Laravel and PHP. It includes everything you need to get started, including PHP (versions 7.4 up to 8.3 Alpha), nginx, and dnsmasq.

With Herd, you can quickly and easily create and run Laravel projects on your Mac. All requests to *.test domains will be routed to the correct site installed on your local machine. This makes it easy to test your Laravel applications locally without having to worry about setting up a web server or configuring DNS. It uses static binaries for PHP, nginx, and dnsmasq, which makes it significantly faster than other PHP development environments. This means that you can start developing Laravel applications faster and get feedback on your changes more quickly.

How to Install Herd on Your Mac?

To install Herd on your Mac visit its official website and from there you can download Herd for free.

After downloading, open the disk Image and drag the application into your /Applications folder.

Launch it to follow the setup instructions. You can setup it from scratch or you can import the configurations from Laravel Valet.

Important to Note!!

You don’t need to install Homebrew (a package manager). As we said in the beginning, Herd works fine without any dependencies. Herd supports the following versions of PHP…

  • PHP 7.4
  • PHP 8.0
  • PHP 8.1
  • PHP 8.2
  • PHP 8.3

moreover, Herd offers UI to manage your local sites (secure them via SSL and change or update the PHP version for each).

PHP Extensions Supported by Herd

Herd includes the following extensions:

  • intl
  • pdo_sqlite
  • sqlite3
  • curl
  • openssl
  • tokenizer
  • bcmath
  • bz2
  • calendar
  • dba
  • FTP
  • iconv
  • mysqli
  • mbstring
  • xml
  • simplexml
  • ctype
  • dom
  • pdo
  • filter
  • session
  • zlib
  • fileinfo
  • pdo_mysql
  • posix
  • sockets
  • shmop
  • sodium
  • sysvmsg
  • sysvsem
  • sysvshm
  • gd
  • zip
  • gmp
  • redis
  • xmlwriter
  • phar
  • exif
  • xmlreader
  • readline
  • pcntl
  • soap
  • imagick
  • ffi
  • opcache

As you can see the above list includes almost all the extensions except “Xdebug”. As Herd’s PHP binaries are compiled statically, it is not possible to install additional new extensions.

Want to Migrate from Laravel Valet?

Herd is a Laravel and PHP development environment that is built on top of Valet. This means that you can easily migrate from Valet to Herd without having to make any major changes to your configuration.

When you install Herd for the first time, it will detect if you are already running Valet. If you are, Herd will automatically migrate all of your existing Valet settings, isolated sites, and SSL certificates to Herd. This means that you can start using Herd right away without having to worry about setting up anything new.

If you ever need to switch back to Valet, you can simply quit Herd and start Valet again. Herd does not have any dependencies, so there is no need to uninstall it or make any changes to your system.

Last but not the least!!!

Strengths vs Limitations of Laravel Herd


  • Herd is a more streamlined development environment than Laravel Valet. Everything is bundled together, making it even simpler to use.
  • Laravel Herd’s PHP binaries are statically compiled to run blazingly fast on Apple silicon Macs. This means you’ll experience a significant performance boost.


Laravel Herd is a great development environment for Laravel, but it has some limitations.

  • You cannot install PHP versions before PHP 7.4
  • You cannot add any additional PHP extension out of the box

Final Words

In this article, we introduced you to Herd, a new Laravel and PHP development environment that is blazingly fast and easy to use. Also shown you how to migrate from Laravel Valet to Herd. It can be a great replacement for Valet. It is faster, more secure, and easier to use. I highly recommend giving Herd a try if you are looking for a new Laravel and PHP development environment for your Mac.


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