Xdebug on Mac

To debug PHP applications with PHP Tools for Visual Studio Code, it is necessary to install and enable Xdebug extension.

There are multiple ways how to install Xdebug on macOS:

  • Compile it from the source code. We have prepared a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to do that. Please continue here
  • Use PECL and Homebrew. The rest of the document will explain this approach.

Step-by-step guide

  1. Install Homebrew

    In the terminal enter the following command:

    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"
  2. Install PHP through Homebrew.

    Following command will get you the most recent PHP version:

    brew install php
  3. Install Xdebug with PECL

    Choose which command to run depending on your Mac architecture:

    • Intel

      pecl install xdebug
    • Apple M1

      arch -arm64 sudo pecl install xdebug

      or if PHP was compiled for x86_64 architecture, then run this command:

      arch -x86_64 sudo pecl install xdebug
  4. Verify the installation

    php -v

    You should see output like this:

    PHP 8.0.17 (cli) (built: Mar 18 2022 09:45:09) (NTS)
    Copyright (c) The PHP Group
    Zend Engine v4.0.17, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
       with Xdebug v3.1.3, Copyright (c) 2002-2022, by Derick Rethans
       with Zend OPcache v8.0.17, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies

    If the output contains Xdebug - the PECL updated your php.ini then you are done. If not, continue with Step 5.

  5. Locate php.ini and append Xdebug configuration:

    Run the following command to find the location of php.ini file

    php --ini

    The output should look similar to this:

    Configuration File (php.ini) Path: /opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0
    Loaded Configuration File:         /opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0/php.ini
    Scan for additional .ini files in: /opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0/conf.d
    Additional .ini files parsed:      /opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0/conf.d/error_log.ini,

    Open /opt/homebrew/etc/php/8.0/php.ini file and append the following lines(if not already present):


    save and verify the installation again by running php -v command.

  6. (Optional) You can turn xdebug.start_with_request=yes (in Xdebug 2 it was xdebug.remote_autostart=1). This option will activate the debugger on each request. By default, Xdebug initiates the debug session only when it's instructed to, e.g. when the URL has XDEBUG_SESSION_START query parameter, which might complicate scenarios like debugging AJAX requests.

    See Also