How to try SiteWorks on your computer using Local WP

WordPress doesn’t have to run on the Internet. If you have a 64 bit computer running MacOS, Windows or Linux (but not an iPad, Android tablet or Chrome book) you can install WordPress on your own computer. This uses a product called Local WP, or just Local.

Web Managers receiving the training run by the SiteWorks Team will need access to a computer capable of running Local. It will also be used to preview and plan migration from Site Builder. Once live, Local will be invaluable to try things out or train colleagues to be future Web Managers. We will be recommending ways to clone your live SiteWorks site to make a private copy for training or to just try things out.

The steps covered in detail below are:

  1. Install the Local WordPress software for your computer
  2. Download the latest SiteWorks demo website zip file or Site Builder zip export
  3. Start Local and import a website from the downloaded zip file
  4. Log in to WordPress and start exploring the website
  5. Troubleshooting.

Note that you cannot send emails from a contact form with Local.

1. Install Local

Note that Local requires a computer running MacOS, Windows or Linux. It will not install/run on a tablet, smartphone or Chromebook.

Download the software for your computer from and install in the usual way. Note this file is quite large – 500MB+

You will need to provide an email address to download the software, and will get a (very) few emails, but there is no need to create an account or provide your name or phone number.

Do pay particular attention to Local’s installation notes. For example the more recent Apple macOS releases require software called Rosetta 2 to be installed. The install process will also cause your computer to ask for permission to allow Local to make changes.

2. Download a demo site

The SiteWorks developers have created a demonstration WordPress site with the SiteWorks theme and plugins plus some fictional u3a example pages.

Download the demo zip file from
Do not extract the files, only the single zip file can be used.

Safari macOS users note that the default is for the zip file contents to be automatically extracted. On Safari go to Preferences > General and uncheck ‘Open safe files after downloading’. This link has screenshots to help with this.

If you have joined the SiteWorks programme and completed your SiteWorks training and study Workbook you will be allocated a member of the SiteWorks Migration team. Assuming you have a Site Builder site your migrator will arrange for a Site Builder export zip file to be made available for you to download and install on Local. This export will essentially convert the content of your Site Builder site into the foundations of a SiteWorks site.

Note that Local can host multiple sites so you can install a SiteWorks demo site and Site Builder exported site plus even a standard WordPress installation.

Save the zip file to your Downloads or similar folder on your computer. You should not extract the .zip file contents (Safari macOS users note the above to prevent automatic unpacking).

3. Start Local and import the website

One the bottom left of the Local screen click the + to create a site.

Select existing ZIP file or drag file into window to import a site

You should select or drag the file or the SiteBuilder migration zip file you downloaded in step 2.

Note that on the File menu, Import site achieves the same result. On Windows and some computers it may be on a three-bar menu.

File > Import Site selected
Drop-down menu as seen when the menu is the three-bar 'hamburger'

If you are given any choices during the software installation just go with the ‘Preferred’ default options rather than ‘Custom’.

Preferred option highlishted

Importing may take a while. You may need to restart Local to see the site you have created listed.

You can of course create a completely empty site by selecting Add new site

4. Log in to WordPress

After the website has imported you can launch the website.

Turn on ‘One-click admin’ so you will not need to log in to use the WordPress admin dashboard.

You can view the actual website (Open site button) or to log in as the Administrator (WP Admin button).

Make sure the SSL setting is set to Trust.

Local WP dashboard

As an alternative to ‘One-click admin‘ for the demo site (not a migrated site) there is a pre-set WordPress administrator username/password of admin / 112233 (Both are case sensitive).

You need to keep Local running all the time you are working on the website. When you have finished work, you can close Local. When you restart Local the website will be as you left it.

If you want to ‘start again from scratch’, delete the demo or Site Builder website (right-click the site name under the heading Local Sites) and import a fresh copy of the .zip file.

Please note that the u3a demo website is a snapshot of the theme files, plugins and content at the point the zip file was created. The zip file will be updated from time to time, so always download a fresh copy to be sure of the most recent version.

Those interested in contributing to the development work can obtain the current versions of the theme and plugins from the repositories on GitHub. For access to the repositories please contact Nick Talbott through the u3a WordPress Development Forum giving your GitHub username.

5. Troubleshooting

Local can support several sites so you can Import the same Demo file or Site Builder export multiple times if you need to start afresh or refer back to pages before they were edited.

Try re-install (but follow these instructions)

It is worth re-installing Local if things appear to get messed up or it appears to stop working after a period of not using Local. Several users have also experienced problems after Local has performed an update.

To re-install we recommend following this article that explains how to fully un-install Local first (it covers Windows and Mac-OS and Linux).


In general, most problems seem to be down to anti-malware products on Windows installed in place of standard Windows Defender e.g. often pre-installed by the supplier of your computer. They either block access to the webserver port on your computer (a bit like not having enough electrical sockets in your kitchen), or prevent the hosts file being updated (the hosts file enables your browser to find your Local site on your computer and not head off to the Internet).

The public Local Community forum can be a good source of suggestions. Take a look in their FAQ or search for your issue.

When you import a site Windows may alert you with ‘Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?’. Click Yes. Local is appending information to your ‘hosts’ file. We have had reports of updating the ‘hosts’ file fails because the file has been set to read-only by anti-virus software. The start of this article explains how to change the attribute to read-write and has notes and various anti-virus products.

If you have installed a zip file and find your get a “404” page on your site then try re-starting your computer.

If you find your site runs unacceptably slowly then try this change.
Click on the Local 3-bar menu and then Preferences > New site defaults

In the box “Domain suffix” you will see ‘.local’. Change it to something else e.g. ‘.abc’ as above and click on ‘Apply’. Now install a new or imported site. It seems the suffix ‘.local’ on Windows can slow things down dramatically as it conflicts with other services.

A couple of users have needed to install Microsoft Visual C++. If this is missing Windows will often download it. If not there is information from Microsoft on how to do this here. Look for the X64 link.

mac OS

Even though Mac OS is less common that Windows we have not had any reports of problems where Mac OS has been mentioned. Any tips we receive will be posted here.