Serve It Up! Minecraft Servers on Your Mac

I recently started hosting Minecraft games from my laptop which is a mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13" with 4gb of ram (soon to be 8gb) and a 120gb SSD. Let's just say that I couldn't find a simple inclusive tutorial of how to set this up. Mainly because Apple has updated some of the software. So, without further ado, I would like to present you with how I setup a Minecraft server on my Mac and...

How You Can Do It Too!

For the most part, you can rely on tutorials here, here, and here. But for those looking for a straight-forward tutorial just for OS X, you have come to the right place.

Download

Visit this page to download the latest Minecraft Server version for Mac. It should be at the bottom of the page listed as .jar file.

After that you will need to install the Java JDK. Visit the Java JDK download page, select the box that says "Java" and "Download" on the left, then scroll to the first box that lists downloadable files. You will need to click the "Accept License Agreement" tab at the top of the box then click on the file link (the one in blue) to the right of Mac OS X x64.

Side note: some of the tutorials recommend installing Java from here. You can do that one instead if you want to.

Install Java JDK. Go ahead. I'm sure you know how to install apps on Mac by now. Just remember to uncheck the box that says you want to make Yahoo! your new homepage.

Creating the Minecraft Server Files

Create a folder somewhere. I recommend on your desktop. Name it whatever you want to call your server: "Minecraft Server 1", "The Best Server Ever", "You Got Served". Move the .jar file you downloaded and place it in this folder. Now open the TextEdit program and change the format settings to "plain text" (this is under the Format tab at the top). Paste this code into the text file:

#!/bin/bash
cd "$(dirname "$0")"
exec java -Xms1G -Xmx1G -jar minecraft_server.jar nogui

You can either edit the command to include the version of the .jar file like minecraft_server.1.8.9.jar or you can rename the file to minecraft_server.jar. Save the file as "start.command" in the same folder as the .jar file.

If you would like your server to run more players and you are certain your computer can handle it, you can change 1 in "-Xms1G" and -Xmx1G" to a larger number where the number stands for gigabytes of ram.

Now open a new Terminal window by either going to the app (listed under "Utilities") or searching for it with Spotlight. Type "chmod a+x" into the Terminal then drag the "start.command" file into the window and press enter. This will give the necessary permissions to execute the file when you click on it.

Now you can run the "start.command" file by double clicking it. A few error messages will show in a Terminal window the first time you run your server.

Now you are ready to configure your server and start your game!

Configuring Your Server

There should be a new file in the server folder called "server.properties." If there isn't then you should create one. It's possible that the file may be empty so you can edit it with TextEdit and put these basic starting properties into the file.


spawn-protection=16
max-tick-time=60000
generator-settings=
force-gamemode=false
allow-nether=true
gamemode=0
broadcast-console-to-ops=true
enable-query=false
player-idle-timeout=0
difficulty=1
spawn-monsters=true
op-permission-level=4
resource-pack-hash=
announce-player-achievements=true
pvp=true
snooper-enabled=true
level-type=DEFAULT
hardcore=false
enable-command-block=false
max-players=20
network-compression-threshold=256
max-world-size=29999984
server-port=25565
server-ip=
spawn-npcs=true
allow-flight=false
level-name=world
view-distance=10
resource-pack=
spawn-animals=true
white-list=false
generate-structures=true
online-mode=true
max-build-height=256
level-seed=
motd=
enable-rcon=false

Most of these options are self-explanatory but if you need more information about them you can visit this page. The most important one will be the "server-port" which we will need for the next section.

Once you have edited the "server.properties" file and have gotten it to your liking, you can run the "start.command" again and your server will be up and running!

Port Forwarding

Exciting! You have your Minecraft server running. But wait! There is a problem! Only people that are on your network, which is probably just your router at your house, can access your game right now. Unless you have forwarded ports before, you will need to setup the port forward to get your server out to the real world so your friends can join you from their homes.

Most tutorials you read about setting up a Minecraft server for Mac will give you the same basic information I gave you but here is where we start to deviate. There is a good page on port forwarding but I came across a problem while I was following this and other tutorials online. Apple decided to update their Airport Utility app on OS X so we no longer have the options presented to us to make our servers work across the internet.

**This information is only for those who have a Mac and have an Apple Airport wireless router. If you have Windows, visit this page. If you have a Mac but are using a different brand router, you can visit this page. In either case, you will probably need to do a little research as different brand routers have different ways to port forward. Just remember that the server-port settings in your server.properties file needs to match the port you have decided to forward. Minecraft typically uses 25565.

To solve the Apple OS X update problem, I have found the program you need! And to make sure that we don't lose it, I have downloaded it and provide it from my own server. Download Airport Utility 5.6.1. I can't remember where I got this from originally but if you are the creator of this launcher and file, let me know and I can put your credits here (citation needed).

Install this by extracting it and adding it to your Applications folder. Now run the Airport Utility 5.6.1 Launcher and make sure you don't update the utility if it asks.

You should have a tab called "Port Mapping." This tab has been removed in the new Airport Utility app. Go here and click the "Add" button.

First, add the number 25565 to both the "Public Port" and "Private Port" fields. This number should match the one under server-port in your server.properties file. You can change it to something else, but I recommend sticking to the standard. You may have a really awesome computer and decide to run two servers from it which means you will want to add two port forwards with different numbers. This is possible and you will want to keep their ports different or else one of the servers won't turn on. If you don't understand, try it and you will see what I mean.

For the "Private Address" field, go to your Network Settings from System Preferences (it shows up when you click the Apple in the top left of your desktop screen). Make sure your main wifi is selected on the left side of the window and that on the right side the Status says "Connected." Under "Connected," you will see an ip address. Take the last numbers after the last period and put them in the "Private Address" field. You can now click "Ok" and it will add the port forward. You can save the settings to your router.

Find the Address for Your Server

**If you are only playing on your local LAN connection and not across the internet, go to System Preferences -> Network Settings and under the Connection Status in the right window pane, there should be an ip address. Give this address to players who are on your local network along with the port number that the game is running from. If you aren't in the same house then you likely will need to continue this tutorial to get your server working across the internet.

Everything should be working now! You only need your ip address to give your friends and you can either google "What's my ip address" (or just click on that link and I've already searched it for you). This will give your your external ip address, basically the one that people on the internet see and not just the people inside your home. With this number and the port number you now have the address for your server. If your ip address is 283.478.284.284 and your server is on port 25565 then the number you will tell your friends to enter when they connect to your server will be 283.478.284.284:25565

You can also test that the port is open by visiting this checker and entering the port you have selected in the "Port to Check" field. If it says it's open, then you are good to go. If you have problems, run through this tutorial again and if your problems persist you can leave a comment and I will help you out (if I am able!).

Make sure your server is up and running by clicking the start.command. After the terminal window finishes generating your world, you should be ready to give your friends you ip address and port and they can join you while you play! Remember, the server takes at least 1gb of ram for 2-4 players at most. If you play Minecraft while you run the server, you will need at least 4gb of ram and even then it will be somewhat lagging for those who play with you. I recommend at least setting the server to take 2gb of ram on a Mac that has 8gb available. This will give you better results.

I hope this tutorial was helpful. I wrote this because I just couldn't find all of the information I needed in one place. Hopefully, as technology continues to be updated, I can keep this tutorial up to date and continue to provide the necessary tools to port forward and check things like that.